Hot Fun in the City_lowres

Customers and staff dress up to fully enjoy the entertainment and mood of Cabaret Night at 735 Club.

Twice a year just isn't often enough for New Orleanians to don elaborate (or just clever) costumes or their ritziest clothes for an affordable night on the town. To fill in the gaps between traditional Halloween and Carnival costume opportunities is the 735 Club (735 Bourbon St., 581-6740), where every night offers a good reason for demonstrative celebration.

The multiple-format club, which opened in 1999, caters to locals looking for something different in a nightclub. The large building, which once was home to popular late-night bar and restaurant Lucky Pierre's, offers two floors of entertainment space, with a cozy bar in the front of the building and a massive main room with a stage on the first floor as well as a large party room upstairs. The French Quarter nightclub attracts a mature crowd that wants to have fun and participate in the entertainment without being rabble-rousers.

A new addition to the 735 entertainment menu this year is Cinema and Draught House (a.k.a. Movie and a Beer) Night on Sundays and Tuesdays, usually offering a double feature on a 15-foot screen and always providing cheap beer, says Tom Frese, managing partner of PM Entertainment, which operates the 735 Club and several other entertainment venues around the United States. Cinema Night is a tribute to the eclectic and now-defunct Movie Pitchers.

"I used to go (to Movie Pitchers) and really missed it, so we're elaborating on that," says Frese, who operates 735 with partners Michael Mator and Paul Yates. "We set up the main room theater-style, but with comfortable chairs. People sometimes come in their pajamas, watch a movie and have inexpensive drinks." Movies start at 8:30 p.m. and beer is $2 for well and domestic brands.

A new hit among offerings comes every Saturday with Cabaret Night, originally inspired by the movie Moulin Rouge but adapted to reflect a more varied cabaret scene due to customers' enthusiasm.

"You never know what you'll see," he says of Cabaret Night. "We're doing trapeze artists, stilt walkers, burlesque and can-can dancers. We had two Moulin Rouge parties and they went over so well we decided to do a take on that but to change it every week to keep it fresh.

"We love to have people dress up," Frese says. "The staff all dresses really, really fun, although it's not required of them. We get people with the boas, derby hats, sexy outfits. You can go really outrageous or go '40s Berlin style."

Other theme nights include '80s Night on Wednesday, a break-beat music format on Thursdays and Guest DJ Night on Fridays. The '80s night features tunes from the era that are familiar and loved but aren't what you hear on pop radio stations, Frese says. Guest DJ Night serves as a showcase for new talent, he says, but managers also book some of the top disc jockeys from across the globe to provide customers with "high-energy, always-refreshing" dance music.

The nightspot does cater to locals but also attracts an assortment of tourists and celebrities. 735 Club already played host to Madonna, who used the red-walled front bar to film her "American Pie" video some time ago, and mega-group *N Sync staged its private after-concert party at the club. In addition, Playboy has reserved the club for the second year in a row for its big Mardi Gras party. Regardless of whether customers are luminaries on a national level or just within a small group of friends, Frese says his staff tries to ensure that all who enter have a good time. The bar even invites peers to come and enjoy, offering free admission always to those who have a bar manager's license or a TAM card.

One way to help is offering free well and domestic beer on Friday and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a cover charge. After Mardi Gras, Frese says, the bar with offer $1 well and domestic beers with no cover charge from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

"Things haven't been amazingly happy for people since September (terrorist attacks)," he says. "We're trying to provide a place for people to be happy, get away from their troubles and enjoy themselves. We're trying to provide an inexpensive way for people to get out and have fun."