Plenty of jaded scenesters gave El Torreon little chance of avoiding the curse that seemed to plague all-ages clubs in Kansas City, but this venue weathered a silly anti-dancing ordinance and the shutdown of an after-hours dance club that operated within its walls to become a steady addition to midtown's live-music menu. Besides giving punk/ska acts a reason not to skip the city (as they had been since the Daily Grind shut its doors), El Torreon has provided a space for benefit shows and activist forums, the type of events that can revitalize and unite a scene. By opening a second room, this cavernous club created an intimate feel for smaller shows, but it also proved it can handle major events by packing in several capacity crowds. El Torreon adds an underage presence to its increasingly hip 31st Street neighborhood, which is anchored by such drinking establishments as the Velvet Dog and the Empire Room.
Honorable mentions for neighborhood renovation go to Trago and Life, two new clubs that have funneled at least part of the nightlife crowd into downtown.