Most Improved DJ Club - 2004
House of Shields
The House of Shields used to serve mainly as a happy hour bar for the suits and stockings crowd, a place for a quick drink before heading back to the burbs. Hell, it still does. But thanks to new owners -- who reopened the downtown joint in September 2003 -- the venue now has a bunch of great late-night events, too. Run by some of the same Burning Man theme-campers who opened Sublounge, the House of Shields leans toward hip hop- and soul-themed parties, although there's plenty of pop, house, and post-punk as well. Thursday is the best bet so far, with members of laptop collective Cat Five manning the decks for "Monkey Time." The drinks are cheap, the cover is minimal (if existent), the d?cor is Old West baroque, and the dance floor is as tight as a gnat's ass.