For eight years, Lodge Entertainment has thrown the biggest, most insane parties in Nashville, continually outdoing themselves and making a few thousand dollars from each event. Lodge soirees were the stuff of hangover agony. Party after party was packed with beautiful boys and girls, kids for whom life comes easy, all getting completely wasted. Former prom queens with their skirts above their heads. Class clowns with recreational drug habits. Hundreds of the young and the feckless, gurgling keg beer through pot grins that pulled past their ears. At lodge parties, BYOB meant bring your own balloonfor the laughing gas.
But this New Year’s Eve was Lodge Entertainment’s last party. The boys, er, men of Lodge are calling it quits.
“I think it’s just time to move on,” said Taylor Shults, who is 29 years old and one of three guys who founded Lodge. “We’re getting up in age. When we pass out flyers for our parties at bars now, younger people don’t know what to think.”
Anybody can buy a keg, hire a DJ and call it a party. But these were not just parties. They were the manifestation of a highly organized system of beliefs. For the men of LodgeTaylor Shults, Dick Nord and Todd Lewisa party is an art form, a carefully orchestrated occasion for which there can never be enough planning. More than once, they spent six months planning a single party.
Lodge began in 1996 in a house the three rented on the corner of Woodmont Boulevard and Estes Road in Green Hills. It was host to parties that drew as many as 1,000 people.
“Did the cops come? Sure. We’ve never gotten in any real trouble, but it wouldn’t be a party if the cops didn’t show up at least once,” Nord says. “We blocked off like two streets with cars, we pissed off all our neighbors. That’s the sign of a good party.”
In 1998, after the landlord refused to renew their lease, the three moved to another house in Green Hills. “It looked similar to a piece-of-shit ski lodge on the inside,” Shults says, explaining how they settled on the name for their company.
When the Titans went to the Super Bowl, the roommates built stadium seats into the Lodge den and put Astroturf over the carpetjust for the Super Bowl party. “Everywhere we’ve lived has definitely been wreckable,” Shults says. “That’s worked to our advantage.” The three lived and planned parties together until Lewis got married and moved out in May 2001.
Lewis says he thinks the parties were fun because each of the hosts had a different circle of friends. “Each party became bigger and bigger since more people would come,” he says. “Some of us had no idea who the people were, but they were friends of friends of friends of Dick, Taylor or myself.”
After Lewis left, Nord and Shults planned more big parties, renting out venues like 328 Performance Hall and charging $10 at the door. After costs, they usually made more than $1,500 each. But they’re grown-ups now, and they say it’s time for the party to end, or at least for their planning efforts to stop.
“I’m 30, and I’m not really after 24-year-olds anymore,” Nord says. “It’s time to do the next thing.”
These days, Shults works in artist management in the music industry, Nord sells surgical equipment, and Lewis sells real estate. All three are Nashville natives. In high school, they were the guys whose parents seemed to be perpetually out of town. They left Nashville for college, but later returned and began having these legendary parties.
Hardly wallflowers, the Lodge guys could often be found in the center of the dance floor. “We had fun,” Nord says. “We weren’t event planners standing in the back of the room with headsets on.”
They once hired a midget to dress like Cupid and run around a Valentine’s Day party shooting guests with toy arrows. They drove to Indianapolis to convince the girl from the Watson’s Pool commercials to come to their millennium New Year’s Eve party, just to amuse the guests. Their parties caught the attention of others, and soon they were being paid to plan parties for bar owners, Titans cheerleaders, Sawyer Brown and even the Scene.
All three guys say their favorites were the GNOTS parties in 1998 and 1999. Pronounced “gee-knots,” the name is an abbreviation for the Greatest Night of the Summer. These events were deliberately small scale. They invited only 24 people. Guests were carefully selected, sworn to secrecy and forced to leave their cell phones and pagers at the door. No one was allowed to leave until 8 a.m., and no one wanted to leave. The first half of the night was a scavenger hunt with clues scattered around town. The second half was a disco party back at the Lodge house.
“We wanted to do something different from the big parties,” Shults says.
The guests were divided into three teams of eight, with four men and four women on each team. No one knew what the evening would entail, but guests were told to dress in cocktail attire. The Lodge guys would later explain that people are less likely to get caught when they’re dressed up. Shults, Nord and Lewis each rode in a limo with a team, to act as judges.
Each limo had a video camera, a still camera, a boom box and a TV and VCR in it. Many of the clues were videotaped, in the form of a fake television show called Bob Faggot’s Pornos and Practical Jokes, which featured Nord doing an impersonation of Bob Saget. Between each clue segment, they showed scenes from low-budget pornographic movies.
Of the extra details, Nord says: “Taylor is an anal guy. We’d think about how every single minute of the party would flow, and we’d make sure we had everything we needed to make it go right.”
The scavenger hunt challenges included having all eight team members sing on stage at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, visit Dawn’s Whirlpool, crash a party, take over Second Avenue on a Saturday night to film a fake music video, race go-carts at Snooker’s, waitress at Waffle House and consume lots of alcohol. By the time it ende, no one really cared who won.
But most of their parties were bigger, though no less particular, affairs. For Def Leprechaun, a St. Patrick’s Day party at the Greenhouse Bar in Green Hills, they brought in tents, a stage and a DJ but decided the crowd needed more. So they came up with the idea of “Temptation Ireland,” a game where male and female audience members were lined up, paired up at random and told to make out. The couple who got the loudest applause won. None of the couples bothered to ask what the prize was.
“I think it was a good combination, a good team they had,” says Daniel Hardin, the owner of the Greenhouse Bar. “They were kind of crazy and responsible and I won’t say which was which. But it was always fun working with them.”
Nord says some of the best times he had were cleaning up after the parties the next day, remembering everything that happened and waiting for people to show up looking for lost items.
“One time, after one of the Greenhouse parties, a guy came back looking for his tooth,” Nord remembers. “We were like 'Man, we’re in a pea gravel parking lot. We’d never find it.’ ”
Shults and Nord moved out of the Lodge house shortly after Lewis got married in 2001, but they didn’t move far. Each bought a condo in the same Green Hills development.
They insist that even though their party planning days are over for now, they’re far from settled down. They say they’re looking forward to going to other people’s parties and having a good time without doing all the work. They’re ready to pass the torch to some of the younger party planners who they say have come along since Lodge started.
“We did what we wanted to do just because we could,” Nord says. “I’m proud of what we did. Nashville needed something like Lodge to get young people thinking about partying on a big level.”
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