The Island Nightclub staff had their last hurrah Saturday.
After two years of progressing toward becoming a dedicated dance club and event venue, the Billings nightclub had to pack it in.
The Wyoming Avenue building has shifted into a pool hall.
Club General Manager Kyle Palmer doesn’t begrudge the course reversal. The closing of Billings’ night clubs isn’t new for the promoter.
The Island will join names like Club Carlin, NV Nightclub and 12th Planet. Dance clubs that primarily appealed to youth, and ultimately closed their doors.
Night life in Billings has expanded over the past 10 years, with the growth of Montana Avenue, the popularity of the Loft Dance Club and the opening of the Pub Station.
However, Palmer has a special vision that hasn’t yet been realized. He wants to build a place for the diverse youth culture to gather. Palmer threw LGBTQ pride events, booked Latin artists and had country nights.
Palmer planned to host hip-hop artist Carl Terrell Mitchell, better known as Twista, as the Island's last event. Nine days before the performance, Palmer had to make a venue change.
Railyard Ale House and Casino agreed to the host the event. By 10 p.m. Saturday night, loyal Twista fans packed the club.
With the venue change, it wasn’t how Palmer wanted to end the Island’s legacy, but he said he wanted to look forward, not backward.
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Palmer has worked for about seven years to bring musical talent and sports icons to town. Through his promotion company, playHard Entertainment, Palmer wants to keep encouraging diversification of youth culture in Billings.
Billy Johnson, who was at the Twista concert, described the loss of the Island as a missed opportunity for the city.
“Look around this place,” Johnson said of the crowded venue. “You tell me if there is a market for this type of entertainment.”
It was a place to dance and have fun, Sandra Short said, who joined Johnson at the concert.
Twista’s manager, Jim Moses, said he promotes across the country and sees the message of hip-hop helping youth in local communities. The music speaks to them, Moses said.
Cities need a youth culture in order to grow and be successful, Palmer said. The lessons he learned at the Island are essential to one day opening his own place.
Fleetwood Gaming, which owned the Island venue and its liquor license, said it appreciated the partnership with Palmer. As they continued to be inundated with requests for the return of the pink pool tables that filled the building before, they decided to return to what the company does best. The building reopened Monday as a Bullwhackers pool hall.
Twista took the stage Saturday night and Palmer smiled wide as the crowd grew raucous.
"Our following will continue to be there," Palmer said. "Saturday gave me hope for the future."