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Come Together

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One of the cofounders of the event, who introduced himself only as Alan, a 38-year-old financier from Boca, was just a few chairs over. I talked to him long enough to discover that he and his co-conspirator Aaron (AKA DJ Sentry, who was now spinning) had driven all over Palm Beach County looking for this, "the perfect venue," for what started out as a heavy industrial night called Rapture. Now solely in the hands of DJ Sentry, the event was dubbed Unity, offering a mélange of music that includes new wave, synth pop, industrial, goth, electroclash, and EBM (electronic body music).

"You have to dance to this!" a woman in a red plaid miniskirt interjected, pointing commandingly toward the dance floor.

Alan obeyed, explaining as he left, "I promised I'd dance if he [DJ Sentry] played this song."

The commando was his wife, Christine, who had proven she could be direct.

"Goths and pirates? How's that working out?" I asked, wondering if there'd been any conflict between the two crowds.

"Actually, quite well. The owners are really supportive. The regulars dip out around 11," she explained, though a half-dozen stragglers still claimed the stools at the north end of the bar.

The new owners, Doc Morrow and Sean Lee, whose day jobs are in real estate and computers, respectively, opened the bar "to try something new," as Sean put it. What was old was new, I guess, for them. Far from edgy, the scene had a sort of homey feel. It was a crowd brought together by music, and it was a community that cohered through the resulting friendships. As a result, no one was trying too hard. Only one of the clan continued the tradition of openly contorting the gender norms.

With Orgy's glam pretty boy Jay Gordon as his role model, Greg boasted that his goal was to be "disgustingly pretty." He was achieving his goal. With expertly applied makeup, including black-rimmed eyes and silvery eyelids, he was perhaps the prettiest person in the bar. His blond-highlighted hair stood up in more than a dozen little meringue-inspired spikes. I asked about his other ambitions.

"I'm a senior this year, but next year, I'll be a super-senior," he laughed, explaining that he'd moved down from Connecticut on a whim, knowing nothing about the university he'd applied to. He'd simply filled out some forms a roommate had lying around the apartment. "I'm the only one of my type at my university. I usually wear makeup even if I'm just going to regular clubs."

Unwilling to be pigeonholed as one-dimensional, Greg shared a lot about himself — his sun sign (Sagittarius), his religious pursuits (Urantia, which he admitted is a cult but "not a bad cult"), and his interest in string theory, cheerleading, and cyber-fetish.

"That's my fetish. If I see a girl with those neon extensions in her hair and those big boots..." He shook his head, as if the mere image had evacuated the vocabulary from his head. "Hopefully, I'll bridge the gap between man and machine."

Well, it's good to have goals.

Dominique, a regular fixture on the goth scene, could speak firsthand to the importance of both human/machine and human/human relationships.

"I'm alive," she said in raspy voice. "I flatlined during surgery, and they had to give me a tracheotomy." When I asked how she was doing now, she showed me the silvery line across her neck, almost a fashion statement in this crowd.

Introducing me to the two guys with her — Arthur and Ian — Dom had a big smile on her face and was slurring her words a little, which I initially attributed to the throat surgery.

"This is my third one," she said after several raspy sentences had escaped her lips, holding up her plastic pail, making it clear that alcohol rather than surgery was responsible for the speech impediment. "Sorry, I'm a little drunk. This is my last night as a single woman."

Her true love was returning to South Florida after ten years in Michigan with his parents, who were "escaping the Krishna cult they were in." In just a few hours, they'd be reunited.

By 2 a.m., when the crowd finally got around to discovering the purpose of the dance floor, I got to talk to the man behind the music as his wife, Monica, took over and began to play some Morrissey. To show how cohesive the Palm Beach scene can be, DJ Sentry (known by day as Aaron Powery, an environmentalist for an aquatic vegetation company) got his start guest-DJ'ing during Respectables' Wednesday industrial night, Kollectiv.

"Respectables will always be home, but I'm trying to do something a little different than what they are doing now," he explained as people poured in from the mothership to take advantage of Scallywag's 4 a.m. closing time. "Respectables plays a lot of indie and electroclash, but my soul is really in what I used to hear — Depeche Mode, Flock of Seagulls, the Cure. My goal is to provide a merger of what is and what was. That's why I call it 'Unity,' because it unites all these different genres of music."

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Marya Summers

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