By day, Ivan Makuve works at a bank. His night jobs aren’t quite so buttoned down.
“People don’t recognize me when I’m actually at the bank,” he said with a laugh.
Makuve, 31, spends weekends as the disc jockey at Captain Freddy’s. He also promotes hip-hop acts. And, most recenly, he opened Bismarck’s only dance club for people 18 and older.
The dance club, located in Gateway Mall, does not serve alcohol and is open to anyone 18 years old or older. It’s not the first such effort in Bismarck but Makuve hopes it will be a longterm venture that spreads to other North Dakota cities.
Makuve’s not-quite North Dakotan accent give away that he’s not from around here. The South Africa native landed in Bismarck by way of the United Kingdom and East Texas. It was in the Lone Star State that he began DJing — as a “club” DJ, not a wedding DJ, he makes sure to clarify.
From Texas, he followed his brother, whose wife is from here, to North Dakota. He began doing promotions and bringing artists to the area to perform. Most of the people who showed up were 18 and older, and many were in the 18 to 20 age group. He realized there weren’t a lot of that type of entertainment options for people not old enough to get into bars.
“I felt there was a need to have an 18 and up dance club,” he said, noting he formerly operated a similar venue in Minot.
Makuve named his venture Palm Beach Club in hopes that he could provide a feeling of warmth to the cold northern region.
“It’s winter all the time, so we might as well give it something warm,” he said laughing.
Palm Beach Club began before summer this year and started out in Mandan’s Mysteria Theater. The facility wasn’t set up in a way conducive for a dance club venue, so Makuve moved his project to Gateway Mall. The dances, mostly held on Thursday nights, so far have been held in the old CVS location but will move to the old Hansen’s Men’s Wear location.
While the club is a business, Makuve believes it also can serve an important service to the community: providing a place for adults not old enough for the bars to go and have a good time without drinking. Makuve also may DJ at a bar, but his focus is the music, not the alcohol.
“It doesn’t mean you have to drink. You can have a good time without being drunk,” he said.
Bismarck Police Deputy Chief Dan Donlin supports Makuve’s efforts. He said complaints of “nothing to do” for young adults in Bismarck have persisted since his own childhood, and it’s good to see someone try to do something about it.
“I think it’s a great alcohol-free opportunity for that age group to have something else to do,” he said.
Many events in the Bismarck area seem to revolve around the ability to sell and consume alcohol, Donlin said. He said alcohol is a contributing factor to many crimes in the area, so having events that don’t cater to alcohol seems like a positive step.
Makuve has contracted the Bismarck Police Department at the rate of $43 an hour per officer to provide police for the dances along with his security, as is allowed by law, Donlin said. At first, only one officer would work the dances, but as crowds grew, police and Makuve decided to add a second officer. On two occasions, plainclothes officers have patrolled the parking lot in an effort to cut down on the drinking and urinating that have been the most common complaints, Donlin said.
Officers working at the dances have applauded Makuve’s efforts to keep trouble out, Donlin said. He said there have been few problems inside, and most issues revolve around people in the parking lot before, after and during the dances.
“It’s a pretty peaceful environment,” Makuve said.
He mostly has played Top 40 selections at the Thursday night dances. However, he hopes to find DJs who specialize in other genres, such as hip hop or techno, and offer dances on more nights.
Makuve said people who come to the club usually dress up for a night on the town. Though the majority of his clientele is in the target range of 18 to 20 years old, that hasn’t stopped some people above the legal drinking age from checking out the events. He’s had people come from as far as Dickinson to check out the dances, and he hopes someday he or another DJ will be able to put similar businesses in other North Dakota cities.
“They can come out and just party and get tired and go home,” Makuve said.
(Reach reporter Jenny Michael at 250-8225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)