How Hailey’s got its groove back
Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer
Hailey’s changed owners for the fifth time two weeks ago. This change is the first of many to come to the Denton bar and music venue located at 122 W. Mulberry St.
Jennifer Gibbs, owner of neighboring Dusty’s Bar & Grill for almost 12 years, is the newest owner of Hailey’s as of Oct. 9. While the bar has been a live music venue for nearly 10 years, Gibbs plans to overhaul its identity and turn it into a dance club.
“I want to create a party every night for Denton,” Gibbs said. “We want to throw the best party in town.”
Currently, Gibbs and her staff are creating themes for each night of the week.
Thus far, they have started “Service Industry Night” on Mondays. Starting Oct. 30, the club will have “OUTrageous Wednesdays” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The club will be keeping “‘90s Night” as well as bringing in the original “‘90s Night” DJ Yeahdef. Yeahdef, the current DJ, Questionmark, and Gibbs are working together on the details of who will play which theme on what days.
Denton has many great lounge and patio bars, such as Oak St. Drafthouse and the bars on Fry Street, but it doesn’t have much for dance music, Yeahdef said.
“They’re all awesome places to go,” he said. “But sometimes you just want to blast music in your face and dance.”
Ray Gill Jr., who was the third owner as well as partial fourth owner when landlord Jerry Taylor became co-owner of Hailey’s, is still helping with booking and the overall transition of the club. He said he wishes to stay involved with it.
“I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in there,” Gill said. “It means a lot to me.”
Gill started as a bartender at Hailey’s in 2003 and eventually became manager, then general manager until he bought the venue in 2010.
“It’s been a heck of a journey but every time it looks like the journey is over, [life] begins another one,” Gill said.
Hailey’s was what was missing from Denton for Gill in his college years, he said. While he has an affinity for Dan’s Silverleaf and Rubber Gloves Recording Studios – both live music venues in Denton – they didn’t offer the space or crowd Gill was looking for, he said.
Gill said he has seen many attempts by owners to change the venue, but the live music always reenters the picture, though.
“There’s something about that aspect of it that tends to be the heartbeat that doesn’t go away,” he said. “As long as it does have quality live music, it will still feel like the Hailey’s I remember and helped build.”
Hailey’s will predominantly be a dance club, however it will still have live music on Saturdays, Gibbs said. The performances will also include more well-known acts rather than local ones.
“The kind of shows Hailey’s used to have when it first opened up,” Gibbs said.
But Gibbs and her staff are also thinking about having a monthly Battle of the Bands for local or lesser-known musicians, she said.
Hailey’s is now accessible through a back door in Dusty’s. Gibbs said she sees more foot traffic through this entrance than through the main door of Hailey’s.
While Hailey’s will remain a nonsmoking bar, smoking customers will be able to go into Dusty’s with their drink, light up a cigarette and smoke it there.
Hailey’s crowd can now order food from Dusty’s through the Hailey’s bar. Food will be served until 2 a.m.
There will also be a name change for the venue, Gibbs said. Gibbs will be waiting until the 10-year anniversary on Oct. 31 passes before changing the name.
“We are going in a different direction,” she said. “Even though people in and around this scene are going to know it’s changing, people that are not will not understand there’s been a major change if we don’t rebrand.”
General studies sophomore Joseph Morgan played in a band that has played several shows at Hailey’s. The last time he went to the venue was to see a live show, he said.
“[A dance club is] a little bit more marketable,” Morgan said. “It’s hard to bring out people to see a local band on a random week night.”
However, Hailey’s was synonymous with live music, he said.
“I didn’t really think of it as a bar or a club or a place where you do anything else,” Morgan said. “Just go see live music.”
Morgan said Hailey’s was a staple in Denton for the music scene. Gibbs agrees to a certain degree.
“It has been in sentiment, but I don’t feel like it has lately in attendance,” Gibbs said. “People are nostalgic about it. They care, but not enough to come in.”
Gibbs plans to bring business back with the themed nights. There is also an opportunity for live music during the week when the theme and the music genre of a band or musician line up.
This will help artists, Gibbs said. Not only will the band’s fans be there, but the band will also have exposure to that genre-centric crowd.
Gibbs is collaborating with her staff as well as her DJs on the direction the club will be taking.
Yeahdef said she has consulted him on some matters.
“She’s asked a number of questions on how I feel the formatting should be placed and different ideas on the direction of the bar,” Yeahdef said. “I feel like it’s not going to be like I’m just a DJ coming in.”
He said he is looking forward to having a residency at the club again as opposed to having monthly gigs in random places.
Hailey’s Club, located at 122 W. Mulberry St, is under new ownership and will be undergoing some renovations to the bar area and dance floor area. The renovations will allow the club to offer more seating for a broader range of events. Feature photo by Fey Sandoval / Staff Photographer
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