By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Ray Downs
Eventually Terrence and his crew started to figure out how to sheriff their wild, wild West. They had no choice; it was as much survival instinct as business decision. "I've been shot at more than once," says Terrence. "We've all been shot at. Some of the incidents over nothing, some people had too much alcohol in their system, some people just say, 'Fuck security, fuck the Monastery.' They might not like the way they were treated, and they get to shooting."
The decision to create two rooms, to physically separate the drinkers from the nondrinkers, made the situation easier to control. The bigger of the two rooms is for the youngsters; those over the legal age are welcome to go where the main action is but can't carry their drinks. The smaller room contains a bar (where the lovely Yodi serves up drinks), a pool table and a big dance floor that holds maybe 500 people.
As Terrence hired more security, he began to understand the psychology of his crowd. One of the first things he learned was how to spot the ringleaders. "You have to be able to stand back," he says, "before a fight even starts, and observe. Let's say it's twenty people. Observe the group leader and the group agitator. You get one of those people, and, guess what? You just controlled twenty people with one person. And you don't need to put airs on -- just say, 'Excuse me, let me talk to you for a second,' and you'll notice, everybody will start to follow you. The first thing you do is say, 'Stop. One second. All we are going to do is talk. I'm not going to do anything to him. I'll bring him right back.'
If that doesn't work, the staff relies on a solution that's worked well throughout the history of man and his booze: Grab 'em, pick 'em up and throw 'em out.
Terrence also started cracking down on parking-lot loitering and figured out specific strategies for dealing with trouble, one of which is an alarm system involving panic lights: "We see the red lights going on," says Terrence, "that means that we've got a situation that's about to get out of hand -- we need everybody here."
In addition to increasing the number of bouncers, he created a plan for protecting them: "If you got four out there, you gotta have four watching. You got four on the floor, four behind them, because you don't have eyes in the back of your head, and you will, every now and again, have that one individual that's not feeling what's going on. It's no different than anywhere else. That person is over 21 and has alcohol in his system, so they don't understand. They're not comprehending as they would if they were sober, so you have to go to that next level, and you have to have patience."
The first time you visit the Monastery -- if this isn't your particular scene -- chances are you'll get a jolt of new. The emotion and energy roar into your reality, a heavenly sensory overload: the fury of the dancing, the vision of passion and celebration -- the sheer happiness you're witnessing on the dance floor.
This is the biggest weekly party in St. Louis. "Hands down," says Staci Static, on-air personality for The Beat and a club MC, "the biggest party, where you see people sweating their hair out dancing. They don't care about hair, they don't care about outfits. You get some people that come there who try and wear stiletto boots or whatever, but for the most part everybody's dressed comfortably, they're laid-back and they are strictly coming to party."
Before 2 a.m., there's as much standing around as there is dancing, at least in the big room, where the party is simulcast on The Beat every Saturday. People nod their heads with the rhythms, do a little shuffle-shake to get the juices flowing, to get the knees, knuckles and neck rubbery enough to move the way they need to move.
Before 2, people are hooking up, flirting, gossiping, arguing, getting their pictures taken in one of two makeshift photo studios at opposite ends of the club. Backdrops hang, and for a fee, you and your lady or your posse can mug for a portraitist.
On one backdrop, a huge golden cross is airbrushed on a blue background -- a medallion, a shining royal beacon. Above it, in blue, Old English script reads, "Monastery." Stretching down one side of the cross is the word "Thug"; down the other, "Style."
A guy in his mid-twenties, clad in a deep-blue velour sweatsuit, glares at the camera, tough and cool and sexy, his arm around his girl. She doesn't smile, either, but her expression is much softer and her eyes twinkle more brightly than her diamond necklace.
As you walk into the packed 21-and-over room, the joy is evident, but the vibe is nothing compared to that of the big room. It's no fault of DJ Voodoo's, who plays some killer bounce -- E-40, Petey Pablo (who's got a growl to rival Howlin' Wolf's), Goodie Mob, 8-Ball and MJG, the great Three-6 Mafia out of Memphis.