It seems like a typical college students' bar.
The band pounds out "White Wedding" as lights flash around the crowded dance floor. In one corner, students huddle around a television set and cheer as the University of Maryland Terrapins basketball team pounds its way to victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.
But if anybody downing drinks here is hung over next morning, it will be from overindulgence in pizza.
The Dry Dock, a bar that serves no alcohol, debuted last week as an experiment at the University of Maryland's College Park campus, where nearly three-fourths of the 30,000 undergraduates are under 21 and therefore forbidden by Maryland law to buy alcohol.
"If you're 21 and you have underaged friends, it's hard to get together," said Michael Tock, a 20-year-old junior. "Here (at The Dry Dock) you are not separated because of your age."
About 500 students attended the opening last week, which featured WWDC disc jockey Adam Smasher and his group, The Smash Band. Smasher said he was surprised at the turnout.
"I didn't know what to expect. But as an outsider I can say it proves one fact -- that you can party with or without the booze," Smasher said.
The Dry Dock operates in the Maryland Ballroom of the South Campus Dining Hall, which, before the drinking age was raised in 1982, was "The Pub," a campus bar that served alcoholic beverages. The Dry Dock will be open again tonight and for the next two Thursdays.
Many students at the opening said they were pleased with the bar, but skeptical about its future.
Pedro Merill, a 22-year-old senior, assessed the sober crowd in front of him as he leaned against the bar and stirred his pink "mocktail."
"This would be great if it caught on," Merill said. "But for college students, I'm not sure. Some people who who regularly go The Vous (a popular local bar) are not going to come here."
Other students said they were happy not to face peer pressure to get drunk.
"There are some people on campus who don't drink. If you go to other places in the Washington area you have to drink or you feel like an outcast," said freshman Bruce Corfield, 18.
"Since the univerity is such a large place, we need a central gathering place like this on campus," said Nancy Rhyne, a 19-year-old sophomore. "You can't go to The Vous or The Cellar unless you're over 21 or have a fake ID -- and that's just to get in the door, not necessarily to drink."
The Residence Halls Association, the organizer of The Dry Dock, will decide in three weeks whether it should be a permanent fixture. The bar also is being sponsored by the campus Commuters Association, Dining Services, Health Center, Record Co-op and the campus radio station.
The bar's "mocktails" include such offerings as Um and Coke (Coke and lime juice), Maryland Sunset (orange juice and Grenadine) and Terappin Passion (cranberry juice and Sprite). Food and nonalcoholic wine and beer also are available.
"This is showing that you can go out and have fun without drinking. People are up there dancing -- it's not like you have to drink to go dancing," said Karen Kushner, a 22-year-old senior who was tending bar as part of an alcohol and drug abuse peer education program run by the campus health center.
"I like this atmosphere better without drinking," said Barbara Weber, 19. "Things get out of hand when people drink too much."