Edit ModuleShow Tags

Nothing sacrificed

St. Vitus beseeches us to drink well and play often

Batched cocktails, stunning décor, and killer acoustics make St. Vitus the dance club Tulsa didn’t know it needed.

Greg Bollinger

You know the tired club scene all too well. Bass thumps loudly from the inside as you wait in line to get in. Finally, the bouncer checks your ID and accepts your cover fee—a small toll paid to be seen at such a trendy spot. Once inside the dark chasm, you’re presented with mediocre drink options, sold on bottle service, and forced to dance to a spasmodic playlist because you’d rather not think about the time and money wasted if you’d just leave.

Fortunately, Tulsa’s latest dance club fits none of these stereotypes. St. Vitus is the dance club the city didn’t know it needed.

The concept is something Aaron Post and Darku Jarmola discussed on the patio of Vintage 1740 over three years ago. “We both travel quite a bit,” Jarmola said. “We were seeing this whole niche that wasn’t being represented in Tulsa but had potential.”

Post and Jarmola agreed that a proper dance club must meet three requirements: be welcoming to all guests, feature high-quality audio and lighting with a top-notch DJ to back it, and offer a drink program to please even the most discerning of imbibers. Every detail at St. Vitus has been meticulously planned and carefully executed with these benchmarks in mind.

St. Vitus’ interior decor is a dark, modern dystopic theme with inspiration drawn from classical religious iconography. Church pew-like benches upholstered in velvety blue cloth mark the perimeter of the dance floor—above which is a large, custom-built array of LED tube lights. These fixtures are infinitely programmable and change throughout the course of the night. Pay close attention and you may see patterns or words hidden in them—one of the bar’s many Easter eggs.

Just as you wouldn’t order a top-shelf whiskey and use Coke as a mixer, having the best audio system means nothing unless the space is designed for acoustics. For this task, they consulted with a local company, Big Canyon Acoustic Solutions, to make the acoustic treatments a priority rather than an afterthought. The result is a sound system that bumps without sacrificing the ability to discern the music on the dance floor or the conversation in front of you.

Large stained glass window scenes, illustrated by Jeremy Luther, flank each side of the DJ’s pulpit. For St. Vitus, the religious-inspired iconography is more than simply an aesthetic. After all, the early club scene began in abandoned churches and warehouses. The four scenes depicted on the stained glass include Latin phrases like Frui Vita Nocere Non (Live Your Life, But Harm No One) and other worthwhile meditations for bar patrons on their path towards sainthood.

However, a dance club can’t survive on dark motifs and acoustic vibes alone. Vitus’ focus is on dance music, which can mean anything from house, to disco, or techno. Jarmola (Darku J) is the resident DJ, and during his live sets you won’t find any dramatic builds associated with EDM music, rather, each set is a curated experience where he reads the audience and helps them find their groove.

“There’s a big world of dance music out there, that’s been an outlier,” Post said. “We’re not saying that it needs to be mainstream, but we’re saying that you can come here for something experiential, something new.”

The third element of St. Vitus’ triune foundation is their drink program. St. Vitus offers a selection of beer and wine by the can, but it’s what they have on draft that sets them apart. After extensive research and testing, general manager Tanner Scarborough created a menu of classic cocktail riffs that are batched and available on tap.

These draft cocktails provide the speed of service needed for a dance club, and, impressively, make no sacrifice on quality. Their Negroni riff which features gin, mezcal, Campari, vermouth, apricot, and cardamom, is one of the best I’ve ever had. Other notable riffs include their cosmopolitan, daiquiri, and gimlet. At only $9 each, it would be hard to find a better-priced craft cocktail in town.

St. Vitus operates as an intimate draft cocktail bar on weekdays and lets loose with their dance club vibes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. “For a lot of people, this can be the place to get draft cocktails, or it can be the place that has the best dance parties in town,” Post said.

Services are held seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. No dress code. No cover. Come as you are.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from this author 

Museums and martinis

A conversation with cocktail writer and MIX guest judge Robert Simonson

More mingling, less mixing

How to batch cocktails and host like a pro