After wearing many hats in the public service field, Eric Winters has seen firsthand how one wrong decision can change a young person's life forever.
So Winters wanted to give teens and college students a place where they can hang out, without being influenced by drugs and alcohol.
After a year of planning and renovations, Winters's dream finally came true, and on Aug. 25 he opened Synergy, 416 W. Third St. The club is open from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. to people 18 years and older on Thursday and Saturday nights and 16 years and older on Friday nights.
CRAIG S. MCKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette Correspondent
"Two nights per week we cater to an 18 and over crowd without the emphasis on alcohol, which to my knowledge, we are the only one around," Winters said.
Winters said the club was born from his experience in the nightclub industry, after he worked locally at a club that used to offer a teen night before it became too much of a liability because that club also served alcohol.
"There is no liquor at all here," Winters said. "And no smoking inside the building. We don't want that in here."
Winters went to great detail to ensure the safety and security of the club's guests. There is a strict dress code, all clubgoers must have identification and the club has a state-of-the-art security system that records all areas of the building, including the exterior.
With a cover charge of $7 from 9 to 11 p.m. and $10 after 11, Winters hopes that will keep people from making poor decisions before coming to the club.
"It helps deter trouble and the troublemakers," he said.
During the opening weekend, Winters said he had more than 1,300 people show up at the club. He hopes the club will give teens and young adults an alternative to other expensive forms of entertainment.
To show his support for the local community members who patronize his club, Winters and his employees often go to local sporting events. During a recent Friday night, he and his staff supported the Williamsport and South Williamsport Area High School football teams by going to their games and giving away T-shirts and other merchandise.
"We do a lot of stuff with the [Pennsylvania College of Technology and Lycoming College] campuses," he said. "We also have done promotions at Lock Haven University, Mansfield University and Bloomsburg University."
For parents who are concerned about the safety of their teens coming downtown, Winters said not to worry. There is ample on-street parking and other spots available in the YMCA parking lot on Elmira Street. He also blocks off the first three parking spots in front of the club for parents who are picking up their teens. And, he has 14 security personnel on staff to make sure there are no problems.
He stressed that the dress code is enforced - which bans bandanas, do-rags, sunglasses, jerseys, plain white T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, sweatpants, mesh shorts, excessively baggy clothing and athletic wear - and anyone who enters the building will be checked by a metal detector and all bags will be inspected because weapons, pepper spray and knives are not permitted.
Anyone who acts intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be allowed in the building, Winters said.
Inside the club, Rock Star energy drinks, Pepsi products, slushies, pizza, chips and pretzels are for sale. Glow sticks also are available.
The large club features two pool tables, a digital gaming system, a lounge area with three large flat-screen televisions and black leather couches, a large dance floor, stage and DJ area with a 17-foot TV projector screen. The extensive audio and LED lighting system allows the DJ to also be a "VJ" and play videos to accompany the music. The walls are painted with granite paint that sparkles with glitter when the lights shine on it and the overhead lights are fitted with black lights.
"It's a touch we've never seen before at other nightclubs," Winters said. "It gives the room so much character."
Smokers can use a gated outdoor courtyard area that also is under surveillance. The building still is undergoing renovations, and Winters is outfitting the upstairs for use as a VIP area and for private events, such as Sweet 16 birthday parties.
"Kids are going to be out, this gives them a place to be safe," Winters said.
For more information, call 567-7274 or visit SynergyWilliamsport Pennsylvania on Facebook.