Trouble came to 14th Street Wednesday night but left peacefully early yesterday.
For five hours, about 3,000 teenagers from throughout the District of Columbia converged on a dirt lot at 14th and Irving streets NW to rock to the pulsating disco beat of a Southeast Washington band a group known by the improbable name of Trouble.
The youths took over the cool night air, filling it with the sounds of whoops, loud radios and the aroma of marijuana.
Then they took over the streets, halting traffic with their gyrating bodies until D.C. police in riot gear moved in to detour traffic and cordon off the area between Harvard Street and Park Road.
"That's Trouble. They're from down my way in Southeast," said one teen -- age girl, rocking to the beat and flickering strobe lights from the soundstage. a
"I just heard about the concert and decided to see what was going on. It gives you something to do," she said.
The street disco performances, now in their third year, are organized by two 14th Street residents, Michael Taylor, a D.C. school teacher, and Danny Edmonds, a city recreation department worker. Local bands play for free and an auto body shop has donated the electricity. But the cost has risen to the extent that Taylor said he occasionally collects donations from friends and sponsors sports tournaments to help raise money to pay the electric bills.
Taylor said the discos are held from spring to fall. In the summer, two or three are held each week until the wee hours of the morning.
The youths don't have no center, they don't have no jobs and situations," he said. "Our whole thing is to keep the tension down."
But when Wednesday's crowd swelled from the usual 800 to 3,000, Taylor admitted he welcomed having the police control traffic and be on standby a ghost distance away.
"We felt as though it was getting beyound control," Taylor said. "We didn't know we would have that many kids. There could have been a lighted fuse. Luckily there wasn't."
D.C. police officer Larry Moss, the liason officer for the area, said that over the years, neighbors have complained about sporadic vandalism, noise and the crowds at the discos. Last July, a man was killed at a disco in an incident unrelated to the street party, Moss said.
Because of the crowd's size, Wednesday night's disco was a potentially explosive situation, he said, Still, incidents were minor. Occasionally, someone would smash a bottle or reel drunkenly down the street. But in general the crowd was orderly.
At 2 a.m., the youths were still jamming. A few danced on the yellow hulk of an abandoned bus. Others maneuvered mopeds in and out of the crowd.
Asked why they were there, the youths' answers were always the same: "It's something to do. I came to see what was going on."
And when the band stopped playing at 3 a.m., a sea of youths in cars, on mopeds, bicycles and foot obediently swept down 14th Street, heading home.