Hear, Here

To ascend to total rock star around here, Royle says, you have to climb DC's rickety scenester ladder. Here are five spots that he has singled out for their role in fostering and fomenting the local rock universe:

9:30 CLUB. 815 V St. NW, 202-265-0930 www.930.com (est. 1980, current location since 1996, all ages)

Royle's take: Big stage, big lights, big bands, big bouncers. To play the 9:30 club is to be treated like royalty. If you can (bah baahh) make it here, you'll make it (bah baahh) anywhere. . . .

BLACK CAT. 1811 14th St. NW, 202-667-7960 www.blackcatdc.com (est. 1993, all ages)

Royle's take: Every band in D.C. is trying to play the Cat, so when you get big there, you feel like you've just been handed the keys to the city. The bartenders are also pretty hot.

DC 9. 1940 Ninth St. NW, 202-483-5000, www.dcnine.com (est. 2004, 21 and older)

Royle's take: The coolest after-parties, the coolest DJs, and every time I go there I'm taken out in a barrel.

VELVET LOUNGE. 915 U St. NW, 202-462-3213 www.velvetloungedc.com (est. 1997, 21 and older)

Royle's take: Oft ignored and underappreciated, the Velvet is the backbone of the whole deal. I will never again rock as hard as I have in this U Street club. They've got Pabst Blue Ribbon and real rock-and-roll.

WAREHOUSE NEXT DOOR. 1017 Seventh St. NW, 202-783-3933 www.warehousenextdoor.com (est. 2003, all ages)

Royle's take: If Brian Jonestown Massacre started a club in D.C., it would be this one. Very hipster-ish. They glare here, they pose, they have great indie bands, and the sound system could use some work.