"Almost 10 years ago, I remember hearing about big raves in England, and seeing videos of these enormous parties over there," recalls Scott Henry. "Ever since then, I've waited for this to happen in America, and just in the past year it feels like it's finally happened."

Henry speaks too passively. It didn't just happen. He helped make it happen. As the prime mover of the Friday night dance party called Buzz, held in the Nation nightclub (1015 Half St. SE; 202/554-1500), Henry has brought those big dance parties to the region, introducing thousands of clubgoers to new sounds in techno, house, drum 'n' bass and more. He's spun these records himself as well as having hosted the biggest DJs in the world -- Paul Oakenfold, Sacha and Digweed, Fatboy Slim, Boy George, Bad Boy Bill, Deep Dish, Dieselboy -- and helped put Washington on the modern dance music map.

Almost every Friday since 1995 between 2,000 and 2,500 people have filed into Buzz, dancing from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. But things didn't start so successfully. The first attempt at Buzz was at the East Side club on the water in southwest D.C. "We held it there on Fridays for a year and a half," Henry says. "But the place was such a mess, we had to bring in two sound systems and two light systems and install them every week on the two floors there. We never made any money, and I found I was subsidizing it with the money I made DJing out of town."

He and then-partner Lieven (another DJ and owner of the now-defunct record store Music Now) approached John Boyle, owner of the Capital Ballroom, about moving Buzz there. They'd found a new home. When the Ballroom was remodeled into Nation, Boyle worked with Buzz on the design, making sure to accommodate this most successful of weekly events, consulting on lighting and sound design, DJ booth layout and other features.

"We couldn't do Buzz -- be Buzz -- without Nation," Henry says. "It's just an incredible space to do our parties." The loose partnership has been so successful that Henry and Boyle joined to create Primacy, a company that also includes the promoters of Nation's successful Saturday night dance party, Velvet, a primarily gay affair that attracts numbers similar to Buzz. "What we're doing is really launching a brand name of Buzz and Velvet," Henry says. "We're getting ready to go into Denver, into Baltimore and into Charlottesville with a Friday and Saturday night Buzz and Velvet combination." (Henry is also part owner of3 Boyle's downtown dance club, 5.)

Another part of the national expansion will be the launch of a Buzzlife record label next year, and a nine-hour Buzzlife radio show on Friday nights on the soon-to-launch satellite radio company XM. These are all huge leaps forward for Buzz, which was in danger of disappearing completely after a local television news report on drug use in nightclubs chose Buzz as its locale.

"We've never tolerated drug use," Henry says, "and I think we were running a very tight ship at the time of the Fox Five fiasco, but after that, we worked very closely with the police on how we should be doing things, and we search everyone coming into the club." That news report led to Buzz shutting down for a month and returning temporarily under a different name. But soon Buzz returned under its old name, and hasn't looked back.

This Friday, Henry will be spinning, something he does at Buzz just twice a month, celebrating the release of his new CD, "Scott Henry Presents Buzz: The Politics of Sound." His second for the Ultra label, the CD isn't original music, but rather a mix of the music of others. "It sounds like what you'd hear me do at a club, but it's just a single CD and it's hard to take what you'd do in three hours and tell that same story in 70 or 80 minutes."

It's a long way from the Depeche Mode and Gap Band records Henry played in the mid-'80s in Baltimore bars as an 18-year-old. (Though he plays some of those "old school" records when he spins on the outside deck of Buzz, something he does the first Friday of every month weather permitting). Now he's a master of break beats, techno, trance, 2 step, and other dance music genres whose distinctions might be too subtle for most non-club-goers.

Henry stays on top of such styles by listening to other DJs and his audience. "Dance music is the youth culture in America right now, whether you want to admit it or not," he says. So if anyone should know what's coming around the next bend, it's Henry, right? "Cha Cha Break Beat?" he posits with a laugh.

You heard it here first.

You can ask Henry questions of your own on Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. by clicking onto the LiveOnline page at www.washingtonpost.com.

* To hear a free Sound Bite from Scott Henry, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8132. (Prince William residents, call 703/690-4110.) SKI SOUNDS

The cover of Ski Johnson's latest CD, "Ski's Supreme," is a tight closeup of Johnson. Sunglasses hide his eyes as he leans in toward the camera. He's bald as can be, not a hint of a smile, and there's a tattoo visible on his neck. Is he trying to intimidate you into buying the CD? Or maybe he's just leaning in to whisper some of the lyrics from the CD, lyrics that are more intimate than intimidating. Sexy, not scary.

Ski Johnson is inviting you into his world, a world where his smooth jazz alto saxophone quiets any storms on your personal horizon. It's a world that began 20 years ago at McFarland Junior High in Washington, D.C.

"I was teased a lot because I lost my hair when I was young," Johnson says. "I was the only bald kid walking around." The diagnosis was either nerves or the hair-loss disease alopecia, Johnson says. "One day at McFarland -- that was a rough school, man -- I got in a real bad fight," remembers Johnson. "I came home crying, and my mother went into a closet and pulled out a clarinet that her father had played and handed it to me. Right away, I knew I wanted to play it. Honestly, it gave me something to live for."

Johnson says the rest of his teens were spent practicing as much as 10 hours a day, attending the Duke Ellington School for the Arts and planning for a life as a professional musician. "I didn't do anything but practice," he said. "I didn't hang out. I didn't even start dating 'til I was like 20."

After switching from clarinet to alto sax and studying music at both Virginia Commonwealth University and Howard University, Johnson put together a band and started the grueling work of the club circuit, slowly becoming known for his dynamic stage act. "It's not just a jazz show," he says. "It's got a lot of movement. I run all across the stage, into the audience, and jump around a lot."

He got a break in 1993 when he was asked to open a tour for soul crooner Brian McKnight. The exposure and the money enabled Johnson to record the first of his two CDs on the Laurel-based label Wide-A-Wake Records. More touring followed that release, more airplay, growing exposure, the slow build of a long-term music career. Last year Johnson released "Ski's Supreme," the immodestly titled CD that features singers Tony Terry and Alyson Williams as well as vibes master Roy Ayers.

It's moving up the Billboard Smooth Jazz charts, boosted by a recent appearance on "Good Morning America," and Johnson is touring endlessly to support it. He's back in his hometown Friday and Saturday evenings for concerts at Fort Dupont Park, where Johnson opens for Norman Connors.

And what of the name "Ski"? "It's what they called me in school, on account of my bald head," he explains. "They called me 'Skiball,' but I turned the name around into something positive. It's grown with me, and now it's become me, my personality. And you know what's great? Now I look around and everyone's shaving their heads, trying to be bald. I guess I was ahead of my time."

* To hear a free Sound Bite from Ski Johnson, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8131. (Prince William residents, call 703/690-4110.) Ski Johnson's CD offers intimate jazz.Scott Henry mixing it up. He'll be spinning again for the crowd at Buzz on Friday.