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Spin the Casbah 

by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & "D & lt;/span & id you guys bring the money?" Dennis Henderson asks when photographer Ben Tobin and I reached the top of the dogleg staircase that leads to the Casbah. He means the money he needs to finish the place in time for the first show on Oct. 17. "Ten grand should cut it."

Henderson has transformed the former VFW hall and ballet studio into a multi-room club. Originally slated to open for Hoopfest weekend, the remodel has been more expensive than expected and has taken longer. It's a dream space for Henderson, though, so he's not rushing it. "I had no plans to open a club," he says, "then I saw this place."

Here's our first look.

The Game Room has two pool tables, a love seat and an as-yet-unknown number of flat-screen televisions.

Sixteen tracks off the venue's mixing board will also feed into a recording studio behind the sound room, allowing the Casbah to record live performances in relatively high quality. The recordings will then be downloadable by concert-goers and bands. Henderson hopes it will attract both fans -- by giving fans "a little sound souvenir" -- and bands, by giving them a near-instant live recording.

The Ballroom is long, narrow and -- judging by the pre-opening party this summer featuring Giant Panda -- has good acoustics. The room alone could easily accommodate the space's entire 299-person capacity. Depending on demand, terraced seating in back may one day be VIP-only areas.

The Chill Room is designed to have a more mellow vibe. It has soundproofing in the walls to keep it acoustically isolated from the rest of the venue, allowing a DJ to spin Marvin while the Ballroom hosts the Saturday Knights, or whatever.

Casbah (416 W. Sprague, second floor) opens Friday, Oct. 17, at 10 pm, with Ohmega Watts spinning a DJ set in the Ballroom and with Cheddar Chad in the Chill Room. Free. Call 747-1600.
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