DO YOU wanna dance? Then Washington has something for you in the mix. Like everything else, D.C.'s dance clubs have become increasingly specialized, and from the high-tech throb of Tracks to the tribal thump of Kilimanjaro, the city moves to the beats of many different drummers.
And though we've lost some of the high-visibility dance clubs like Tramps and Elan, the Washington dance scene is "flourishing," says Wresch Dawidjan, the Music Man of the area's dance club/DJ scene.
For the past five years, Dawidjan has been monitoring the fe apulse of the dance club scene for Believers in the Beat, putting out a bimonthly list of the Top 25 area dance hits and serving on the board of directors of the Mid-Atlantic Record Pool, which probably supplies the records to your favorite nightspot. And he's seen and heard some changes.
"Things have gone back underground, the way it was years ago," says Dawidjan, adding that the splintering and "club" format have led to more diversity of sound.
Along with the mainstream rock clubs, D.C. specializes in three types of dance places, Dawidjan says: the big, primarily gay clubs like Tracks and the Lost and Found (both attract very mixed crowds) which thrive on high-energy/disco; the new wave/rock clubs with the pulsing guitar or synthesizer sound; and the "underground" black clubs like The Buck Stops Here and the members-only Clubhouse that play the slow funk and imported tracks that won't make it onto the radio waves.
Each club revolves around its own idiosyncratic sound, and the top DJs are the tastemakers, the centers of their own sonic universes, like Archie Lucas of Tracks, Greg Diggs of the Classics, and Tito Robinson of the Clubhouse.
To help you find your own kind of music in Washington After Dark, here's a comprehensive list of D.C.'s commercial dance clubs, plus a sampling of some of the best from Virginia and Maryland. Choose your attitude and go to it.