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COUPLE TURNS NIGHTMARE SITE INTO DREAM TEEN CLUB

Naysayers told them that an alcohol-free teen nightclub would never work, but Matt and Karen Bogosian are proving it can.

"Some people told us the kids aren't worth it," Bogosian said. "We think they are."

Bogosian, a professional songwriter and musician, and his wife, a fitness trainer, worked about a year to create the Backline, in the former Geitner movie theater.

The nightclub is a rock 'n' roll fantasy -- with some aerobics thrown in for good measure.

"We wanted a building for three businesses: a teen nightclub, aerobics and a recording studio," Bogosian said. "We saw this one and kept thinking about it."

Former owners had deemed the building worthless and wanted to tear it down.

Yet a building thought to be a nightmare beyond repair turned into the Bogosian's dream.

Bogosian took a leave of absence from his rock band, Buffalo, and his wife quit her full-time job as a travel agent. The couple spent 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, cleaning and renovating the former movie theater. Neglected since the mid-1980s, the building had sustained severe roof and water damage.

"First we had to replace the roof," said Mrs. Bogosian, noting that was accomplished with help from a general contractor. "We were in here carrying lanterns and wearing hard hats and raincoats."

The outside of the building is unchanged, and the lobby was fashioned after the theater's original design. The main area, complete with a large sound system, no-alcohol bar, dance floor, special effects and a stage filled with rock band instruments, bears no resemblance to the former theater.

But the theater's proscenium is still fairly intact behind the black walls and neon lights. The area is too small for projecting movies, but the Bogosians hope to create a lounge with large screen TVs to show music videos.

"It's like walking into another world," Mrs. Bogosian said.

Why build a teen club, when a liquor license would open the doors to bigger profits?

The couple who are in their 20s said they can remember hanging out in the village gazebo with nothing to do, and they wanted to give young people a place to go.

Every Saturday night, the Backline becomes a party spot for the under 21 set. The club has been drawing more than 100 area youths a week since it opened in July. Bogosian recently established a minimum age of 15 for admission.

"We don't ever want to have a liquor license," Bogosian said. "There have been a couple of Silver Creek kids killed in drunk driving accidents, and I just don't think it would be appropriate."

The club lets youths gather in a bar-like atmosphere with people their own age -- without alcohol.

"It's safe but still cool," said Mrs. Bogosian.

The Backline employs a security staff, and all patrons are patted down before entering. A metal detector also is used.

"We've never had any problems, and we want to prevent any from happening," Bogosian said.

Some adults have expressed interest in the smoke-free, alcohol-free club. In response, the Bogosians are scheduling several different theme nights for adults, including country western and disco. A variety of live band performances are planned for the stage, which currently features up-and-coming young musicians.

The swirling, colorful lights, 10,000-watt sound system and fog machine that pump up the 15- to-20-year-old crowd on Saturday nights also are used for motivation in the aerobics classes.

"It makes people feel like they're out dancing instead of working out," Mrs. Bogosian said.

The Bogosians say they take the greatest pride in watching the youth hit the dance floor.

"It makes all the hard work seem worthwhile," Mrs. Bogosian said. "They really enjoy it, and we enjoy watching them enjoy it."

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