STORY BY SARAH MATTES
Art. Food. Drinks. Music. All under the same roof. There’s only one place in central Iowa that caters to all of these different interests: the Des Moines Social Club (DSMSC).
“Our goal is to take two different people that would never otherwise socialize together and put them in the same room at the same time … help stir the cultural pot,” Zachary Mannheimer, executive director of the club, said.
The DSMSC has been stirring this pot for over seven years.
At the corner of Mulberry and 9th Street sits the old Des Moines fire station, as of May 2014, it is now a place of community and fine arts.
DSMSC renovated the station to preserve its history and create a better environment for their community programs.
Keeping the original brick structure intact, the Social Club merely added more character to the existing relic.
Sitting at the back of the old fire station embodying the ‘Old Hollywood’ style sits the Kum&Go Theater.
Draped in the classic Hollywood bulb lighting, the neon Kum&Go sign welcomes newcomers to the stage. A place where music, entertainment and fine art can call home.
Connecting the theater and the main building into one lies what use to be the firefighters’ parking lot. Now it is a wide-open courtyard where weddings, concerts and community events are held year-round.
Standing in the center of the open lot your attention is taken, not by the buzz of the downtown traffic around you, but by the striking and breathtaking graffiti art sprawled across the back wall of the courtyard.
One portraying a downtown Des Moines set in a dark and apocalyptic world, another contrasting by using at least seven bright and light colors.
The graffiti art continues from the courtyard along the back of a highway bridge wall until reaching the front door of the main building. Scenes depicting space and the universe a woman becoming one with the sea welcome you to the Des Moines Social Club.
With its dark maroon brick, rounded edges and large windows, you can’t help but stop and take a look at the stunningly unique building.
Hanging in the entryway is a grand chandelier that immediately differs with the brightly colored and striped octagon pattern that cover the walls, this sets the tone for rest of the Social Club’s quirky and welcoming atmosphere.
Malo, a restaurant and the most popular feature of the DSMSC, is one of the first parts of the club you see.
“We worked with Orchestrate Hospitality, which does a lot of restaurants in town, to open up our own,” the club’s program manager Mickey Davis explains.
“People kind of come just for dinner, because they hear about this restaurant, and then accidentally stumble into an art gallery,” Mickey said.
“After that, the one thing people like most about the Social Club is that our beer is always cheap,” Mickey said.
DSMSC focuses on bringing different people with varying personalities and interests together in one place.
They do this by offering programs and events in almost every interest possible. There is an art gallery, culinary classes, exercise classes, a basement bar— an activity for everyone.
They strive each and every day to “inspire other people to do artistic ventures … (by being) just one piece of the puzzle to move Des Moines forward!” Mannheimer said.