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Aug 21, 2014
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The pros and cons of intimacy are on display at M Lounge
By By Sean Hixson and Julie Lay • Photo by Josh Monken
Posted On: 03/01/2007   

Guy's perspective

There is something to be said for making out in public. Now by making out, I don’t mean a fleeting goodbye kiss. And by public, I don’t mean on her front stoop. By making out, I am talking about full-on teenage face time, and by public, I mean within 5 feet of other people. You have to have some guts to pull that off. Guts or a total inability to control yourself with your date.

Of course, if “public” constitutes an intimate lounge above a trendy restaurant – a lounge that’s dimly lit like a harvest-moon autumn night and filled with love seats so soft you sink into them – perhaps the making out can be forgiven, if not expected. So on my first visit to the new M Lounge above Moxy Bistro, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to see three couples making out throughout the evening. M[ake Out City] Lounge, you fit in well with the Central West End nightlife trend of opening a slick tavern upstairs. First Maryland House, then Mandarin, now you.

While walking up the carpeted stairs to the lounge, you’d swear you’re simply going to someone’s off-campus apartment – until you actually open the door you’re never fully sure you should.

Inside, the small shotgun space of one room fits 49 people. The coat room is the closet beside the bar. There’s a single bathroom. In the rear, a smoking lounge has spontaneously erupted behind a thin red drape in a tiny out-of-commission kitchen. Save three muted amber ceiling lamps, the only lighting is candles, which are everywhere. Windows and bricks are the only things on the walls.

The entire staff consists of two incredibly friendly bartenders. I believe said bartenders also DJ via iPod, so when things get busy, at worst be prepared to hear the same song many times or at best every last track on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” “P.Y.T.” is great make-out music.

The crowd is pretty, polished, 25 to 45 years old and diverse in race and sexual orientation. It’s a great mix, but in such a small space, with so few staff and one bathroom – unless management takes preemptive action by limiting entries, which has happened – things can get ridiculously crowded, loud and cluttered with empty glasses/bottles. I enjoyed it most when the room was half-filled with patrons and smoothly filled with the floating alto sax of jazz.

M Lounge is for rent as a party/meeting space, so call before hitting it up and arrive early for a seat.

Moxy and M Lounge owner-chef-proprietor Eric Brenner constantly works the room, asking patrons if things are cool and picking up empties. Expectedly, his cocktail and wine list is a virtual facsimile of the bistro’s downstairs: original and unoriginal, sweet and colorful $8-plus martinis; a respectable wine list with more than a dozen by-the-glass selections; and a beer list that needs improvement. Red Stripe and Heineken are crappy imports, man. Do better.

The straight 411 …
To potentially witness intimate candlelit make-out sessions or impress a date for later making out, head to the M Lounge.

Gal’s perspective

Ever walk into a house party and feel both fabulous and relaxed at the same time? Hard to do, but that is the vibe at M Lounge, above Moxy Bistro in the Central West End. I felt like I had just walked into a private party at a minimalist loft space in SoHo in New York, decorated in brick and wood with a trendy seating area in front of a fireplace. The single room that houses the lounge is small – capacity is only 49 people – yet provides ample room to move about.

With friends in town who traveled without dress shoes, I was worried about making it into the lounge based on the usual arrogance about dress at most CWE clubs. So I called up M Lounge and was greeted by the nicest person. She told me that M Lounge had no dress code and that people were comfortable in anything from a tuxedo to gym shoes. The helpful staff did not stop there. Everyone from the bouncers to the bartenders at M Lounge is friendly and fun.

The crowd at M Lounge is slightly older than most CWE locales. It caters to the thirtysomethings, rather than the normal twentysomethings at other clubs. The patrons seem to reflect a crowd that is transitioning from loud, techno-pumping, beer-guzzling college parties to sipping martinis and waxing poetic about politics. It is refreshing to find a spot where one can talk about something outside of the latest drama on “Lost” and not feel like a total heel.

Food has yet to be offered at M Lounge, but there’s a fairly robust wine selection, as well as a signature drink list that includes Moxy Marys (Absolut Peppar vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, celery salt, dill and lemon juice) and the Bloody Shame (same as the Moxy Mary but without the good stuff –
booze). So if you didn’t hit Moxy Bistro downstairs beforehand, at least you can drink your dinner.

The two big drawbacks at M Lounge are the maximum capacity and the bathroom. Being able to hold only 49 people is not really enough for a bar in such a bustling location. I myself brought in nine people one night, accounting for almost 20 percent of the patrons. A few in our party arrived late and had to wait for people to leave in order to gain entry. And even though not many people can patronize M Lounge at the same time, one unisex bathroom is still a problem. A line starts to form throughout the night as both sexes wait for admission into the solitary stall.

As a whole, M Lounge is great for a night on the town when you don’t want to step into the same scene you have since college. It is a nice change from the hustle and bustle of other clubs in the CWE – that is, if you can get in.

The straight 411 …
A good place to spend a Friday night when all you want to do is relax and hang out with your friends.

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