'Music is like the ultimate way to connect with people': Vinyl record listening lounge opens in Bay View

NOW: ’Music is like the ultimate way to connect with people’: Vinyl record listening lounge opens in Bay View

BAY VIEW, Wis. (CBS 58) -- It is often said that some trends always come back in style. Over the past decade, vinyl records have made a major comeback. A new bar with a record listening lounge has recently opened its doors in the Bay View neighborhood.

"To me, music's like the ultimate way to connect with people," said John Dykstra.

"Almost everything that is good has come to me because I was in a band; I met my wife, my business partner, all of these different opportunities," added Jim McCann.

"1983, so like, 8 years old, that's when I can really, really remember being into music," said Chris Schulist. "I always really liked records just for like the artwork of it and just to be able to sit and hold it."

These three friends recently became business partners, opening up a vinyl record lounge in the Bay view neighborhood.

"At a very young age, I collected records, and my uncle is kind of the reason I got into it," Schulist said. "That's what these all are, he left me his collection when he passed away right before COVID."

He told CBS 58 that about 5,000 records line the walls of The Wiggle Room, 75% of which came from his uncle Gene.

"I have a lot of records at my house, and I didn't want to put all of these also in my house and was like, 'what if we did the vinyl bar like my dream bar,'" Schulist explained.

The concept of a listening lounge comes from Japan, and has thrived in big cities across the U.S. The three amigos thought to bring a similar idea to Milwaukee.

"I always DJ'd in bars, I loved DJing in bars but sometimes it's kind of an afterthought where, you know, there's not a specific area for that to happen…a lot of times it doesn't sound very good," Schulist said. "And then you have people in there fighting over that to talk."

Schulist met McCan years ago, touring the country with their respective bands.

"We wanted kind of a playful name," McCan said. "I was just looking at old records and there was a song called 'The Wiggle, ' and I was like 'oh, The Wiggle,' that's pretty fun' and I said it to my wife, and she came by, she's like 'The Wiggle Room,' and I was like, 'oh man, that is better."

When they settled down in Milwaukee they became business partners, running a successful bar in Bay View known as 'Vanguard.'

"I asked them, 'what are you guys going to call the place?' And Jim kind of sheepishly was like, 'I don't know, we've been kicking around this idea of 'The Wiggle Room,' and I just laughed, it's so silly," Dykstra recalled.

Dykstra mostly worked at record stores back in the day.

"Going into that I was like, you know, the punky/emo kid but leaving that I was like really into jazz and world music," he explained. "I went to school for recording and then at some point I did end up being in a band and that led to us needing to build a recording studio or practice space in one of my bandmate's basements."

Now, as a sound engineer, Dykstra helps others, like his co-owners, design rooms to sound better.

Jim McCan handles the beverages--specializing in Japanese whiskeys and beers.

"We think it would be kind of fun if we had the biggest collection of Japanese whiskey in Milwaukee," McCan said.

'The Wiggle Room' accommodates to those who, like Schulist, don't drink alcohol.

"About five years ago, I stopped drinking, so we have a large NA (non-alcoholic) program," Schulist said. "Just didn't want to be that person that's just getting a seltzer refilled."

They hope the lounge can be a safe and comforting place for anyone.

"I'm always worried someone's just going to be like, 'oh here's another hipster bar,' or whatever, but it's not like that," Schulist added.

It's a place they hope many visitors have moments of discovery and are even transported back in time to a distant memory.

"There's going to be a lot of nights here, where I think people might not recognize a song for 20 or 30 minutes and, on an emotional level, that can kind of get weird for people sometimes," added Dykstra. "And then, all of a sudden, there's that song, right? Where it's like, 'oh man, this is my jam.'"

Share this article: