STEVE BLOOM, whose energetic percussion has set feet dancing in nightclubs and modern dance showcases (he's husband and partner to choreographer Carla Perlo in the Dance Place), has something new to dance to: Crux, a band that draws its inspiration from contemporary African, Cuban and Brazilian music styles. The group will give its premiere concerts Saturday and Sunday at the Dance Place (2424 18th St. NW).

"It's been in the works since last year," says Bloom, "and then the right people showed up from Seattle and Baltimore." The contingent from Washington state included percussionist/vocalists Julian Gerstin and Kathy Chen, both well trained in various Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. Betsi Melvin, who had played in Wooden Hands and Tangent, two popular progressive Baltimore bands, is in the process of moving here. Like Gerstin, she has a master's degree in anthropology with intensive work in ethno-musicology, reflecting Crux's serious approach to its ethnic influences.

Crux is filled out by experimental guitarist Brad Allen (also a member of the new rock band Popular Secret--he played with Bloom in Thunderhead), bassist Kevin Campbell and saxophonist Bobby Reed, "one of underground people in town." Alberto Gaytan will do light projections. The first part of each night's performance will be a concert, and the second part will have some dancing. Bloom describes the sound as "Sunny Ade meets Laurie Anderson, ethnic pop. It brings together African juju sounds and a real strong Cuban and Brazilian influence."

"Dance to the throb of the new montuno," is Bloom's new slogan, montuno being "that moment in salsawhen the piano hits a groove and stays with it, and there's a conga or timbale solo and the horns are playing a pretty fixed figure and it just starts to heat up and the band just holds it while the dancers go nuts. Our contemporary sounds--synthesizers, tape-processing, contemporary lyrics--give it a modern flavor and a cutting edge."