Serving Love

It's a new game on the local scene, and we love the racket

Displaced nightcrawlers of morbid style, your inheritance has come through. The Edge is calling you home. Same address; it's just called Revolution now.

Slightly more macabre was what sprang to life a couple of weeks ago after the Hollywood City Council stupidly dropped the ax on Club Sonar.

If DJ Godfather's Thursday-night party at Revolution is not a bat cave, Abusement Park's recently revamped Friday-night Vamp party in the Safari Room behind Coliseum nightclub certainly is. I made my way 'round the back of the club at midnight last week to Joseph Bonilla's party. The room was pounding with enough electro, new wave, and EBM to keep the dancers winding wildly. Onstage, two hot females in lingerie were leading the erotic dance. I was surprised at how the space lent even greater intensity to the party that raged for more than a year at Sonar until it was exterminated by the out-of-touch City Council's ban on DJs past midnight.

His party suddenly homeless, Bonilla fortuitously bumped into Coliseum owner Brett Tannenbaum at the City Council meeting, and a new partnership blossomed.

I, meanwhile, bumped into someone myself. Mike, a scary-looking, dark-haired six-foot-five man in three-inch heels was standing next to a girl who was giving me the evil eye and stroking his leg. On the scene for 20 years, Mike recalls the days when Coliseum hosted a similar party when Safari Lounge was called Venus Room. "This space has always been good, but the drinks are expensive," he uttered. As for the goth parties of the mid-decade, he observed: "There's a new, hot crowd that looks like they bought their look at the mall, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There's a lot more people here than at other places."

Another turn of fate took me to Karma Lounge, formerly the home of house and weekly D'n'B parties, which has incorporated hip-hop and rock under the ownership of Dave Gaudiana. Saturday is still house with DJ Paul Head. Friday nights feature local bands. And most recently, DJ B-Side has brought his old-school hip-hop party, Sunday School, to the club. The forever-mellow, dance-if-you-want-to vibe of Karma lends itself to a night that slowly unfolds to the sounds of the Beastie Boys, De La Soul, and Run D.M.C.

Danny Christiano, a 23-year-old breaker who spent the night spinning on his head, offered: "This is the best night for hip-hop. The old school is not commercial. This goes back into the roots."

DJ B-Side, a gentle-eyed spinster with calm demeanor and braids that go well past his shoulders who has been DJing for 18 years, explains the concept: "The Sunday School party started when I lived in Texas catering to groups who needed an outlet. It's a little retro, funk, and reggae. Here, everybody is doing commercial, mainstream stuff downtown. I cater to the 28-to-32 crowd that remembers this stuff. I try to keep it between genres so the kids can get into it too."

Still, something's been missing from Broward's night scene, and that's a self-aware dive bar, a place for low-brow culture tourists to get a cheap drink on. It's every 20-something's dirty secret desire, and finally, we have our wish. The newly opened Mental Ward's got it down to a science with its beer-pong Wednesdays and drink specials like Tuesday night's $5 all-you-can-drink drafts, aimed at the thin wallets of local college students.

Owner Keith Chiaverini, who also owns local shop Costumes Etc., has given the formerly rundown Alexander's Tavern a makeover and maintains a weekly schedule of live bands like Phoenix Down, Just Joe, and Fate of Cain on the small stage in the club's back room. Mental Ward's laid-back environment and cheap drinks merit a looksee.

Well, now we're getting somewhere. Reggaeton, hip-hop, booty classics, deep house, and now alt- and goth-rockers get their own nights and a cheap dive to chill in after the party. In the end, of course, it remains all about ass. But if I'm going to keep buying beers for boys dressed like Guillermo Vilas and acting like Ilie "Nasty" Nastase, at least I can shake my moneymaker to something worthwhile.

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