Close your eyes, and imagine a Fort Lauderdale bar off of Commercial and Federal Highway called Kaos Ultra Lounge.
You're leaning up against a curving, back-lit bar, where a tall, smiling Russian with a thick accent and a close-fitting black vest serves you the first of your three-for-one domestic draft beers. Crystal orbs of pulsating purple light glow over an intimate dance floor; three neon blue triangles project across a wall, rotating in slow motion; and you can see the dancer in leather panties and a bustier shaking her ass on a pole behind you.
Now -- keep your eyes closed -- let the dark, thumping bass of an after-hours techno track fill your ears; let each rising measure signal an intensified urge to move your hips to the beat. Anticipate the climax you know is about to come with the next laser-beaming drop.
Open your eyes.
It's 11 p.m. on a Thursday, and you're alone in a mostly empty room. The
bartender casts you a sympathetic smile as she replaces the soggy
napkin under your glass. There is no dancer on a pole -- there's no one
dancing at all.
The DJ spinning the minimal tech music is Madam
Asuka, a 28-year-old Japanese-American with spike-studded shoulders, an
assortment of metal cuff bracelets, and a dark fringe framing her round
For someone who's arranged this gig on a trial basis via a
Craigslist ad seeking local DJs, Asuka has
pretty big aspirations for her burgeoning DJ career, including a
comprehensive tour that would begin in the fall.
"This week was a
soft opening," she says of the first night of AfterGlow, the after-hours-themed dance party she plans to bring to any open-minded Broward
venues that will have it. "I invited people I knew, and my contacts. No
one's here yet, but they will be."
If this were Miami, it
wouldn't be surprising that no one's showed up yet; nothing good ever
starts before midnight, even on a week day. But this is Fort Lauderdale,
you remind yourself. What are the chances a night like this could
actually survive amidst the endless sea of Top 40s and rock
tributes-bumping Broward bar nights?
"I think if they know about
it, they'll come," Asuka says. "A lot of people love the after-hours
sound, but they're grown up now; they can't stay out 'til five
partying -- they have lives. A lot of people from the '90s, the rave kids, are
up here now, settled down. They still love electronic music, but they
have to deal with practical hours of their life. What I wanted to do was
bring this style of music to Broward, Palm Beach, Boca areas, because
nobody's doing it, and people like this stuff."
For now, says
Asuka, the plan is to continue the Thursday night AfterGlow party at
Kaos with the next event scheduled for next week. As far as Kaos
management is concerned, however, there are no guarantees. "We'll give
her a shot," says manager Tim, who's been partly in charge of booking
the bar's talent week by week. "We'll give anyone a shot."
things with Kaos don't work out, Madam Asuka still has plenty of plans
up her striped sleeves, including branching out to a grittier,
rock-infused style of electro, as well as catering to the popular fetish
party crowd that congregates at places like Fort Lauderdale Beach's Exit 66
As the sounds of underground and "after-hours"
electronic dance music continue to permeate the masses through huge,
corporate-backed outlets like Miami's Ultra Music Festival, it seems
only a matter of time before dark, minimal house and techno beats become
a more permanent fixture in the BroCo nightlife scene. Unfortunately,
in the time it takes for something different to trickle down to wider
audiences, serious music lovers will have already moved on to the next
sound in the scene.