Boogie Nights

The STUFF crew sounded like a gang of valley girls in this year's first editorial meeting about the nightlife issue. "There's absolutely nowhere to dance in this city," cried one editor, ripping gulps off her imported bottled water. "Tell me about it," bemoaned a lifestyle contributor. "It's all the same places with the same electro grooves. It's like A Night at the Roxbury every night. So unfortunate."

About five minutes into the discussion - after we nearly unanimously agreed that Beantown nightlife was hopelessly monotonous - some of us realized how close-minded we were being. Like so many Bostonians, we were mentally confined to a few go-to retreats, those reliable "second homes" where we seem to unconsciously wind up jamming regularly.

In order to atone for our late-night sins (or at least for some of them), we sketched a round-up of parties ranging from such renowned Boston nightlife staples as Status at District to such eclectic, lesser-known shindigs as Fresh Produce at Good Life and the monthly Bodega Girls bash at Middlesex. Boston may seem like a mere mini-metropolis sometimes, but you should never judge a carnival until you've screamed on all the rides.

 

Spot: Formerly The Squealing Pig (stay tuned for the new location)

Party: Underground Control

When: Every Saturday

Longtime Boston party instigator Martin Doyle built this night on rock and roll. Underground Control is the newest of these featured fiestas. At press time, this '80s tribute dance party was between venues, but it's well worth tracking down (look out for an update on our website). On the ones and twos, Underground Control is currently fueled by DJ Dan Riti (of Local 121 fame in Providence) and DJ Slick Hair, who strictly spins cheesy and regrettable billboard toppers from the likes of Michael McDonald, Wings, Hall & Oates, and a mess of one-hit wonders. "We call it ‘yacht rock,' " says Doyle, who will soon be augmenting Underground Control by screening zombie flicks and indie-film snippets. "That's the joke - music that you imagine rich people listening to on a boat - but that's what's fun about it."

 

Spot: Wonder Bar (Allston)

Party: Humpday Wednesdays

When: Every Wednesday

We know what you're thinking - Wonder Bar (186 Harvard Avenue, Allston, 617.351.2665) is for college students, and anyone who defies that notion could wind up looking like the dirty old man or woman in the club. You're probably right, but here's the catch: DJ Hevan rocks the booth there every Wednesday, and Boston's undeniable mixmaster party pleaser has an arsenal of hot joints that are sure to get just about everybody high. Known for reading his dance floor more carefully than he does noise violation complaints, Hevan slices no more than 60 seconds of any track before segueing into more excitement. And while his rep as the go-to DJ for the ADD generation has earned him frequent gigs at such esteemed venues as Estate and Shrine at MGM Foxwoods, the UMass-Amherst grad holds down his Wednesday residency for the type of crowd that he started his career serenading: sweaty college dudes and high-energy co-eds.

 

Spot: ZuZu (Central Square, Cambridge)

Party: Soul-Le-Lu-Jah

When: Every Saturday

If there really is a "soul revival" going down in Boston - a suggestion that repeatedly pops up in the local music pages - then the weekly Soul-Le-Lu-Jah jam at ZuZu (474 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.864.3278) is largely responsible. Started in 2003 by Carrie D'Amour (who's better known as Miss Firecracker of La Gata Negra League of Masked Lady Wrestlers), the small but always-brimming soiree is the heart and, um, soul of a scene grounded in affection for rare and ancient 45s and long nights of rug cutting. Though D'Amour no longer runs the show, DJs PJ Gray and Claude Money hold it down with more wax than Madame Tussaud. While they and the night's guest DJs are all hopeless and admitted vinyl-philes, the Soul-Le-Lu-Jah clan is not about playing highbrow rarities that impress a nerdy few. You might hear some obscure gems that inspire moves you never knew you had, but Curtis, Michael, James, Stevie, and Aretha are known to make quite a few appearances.

 

Spot: Estate (The Alley)

Music: International House / Latin

When: Every Friday

It's not easy keeping one of Boston's biggest, best-known clubs classy on a Friday night. But C Entertainment and MKE Entertainment - both of which
were largely responsible for luring well-dressed partygoers from Lansdowne to the Theater District in the first place - have kept the space within the luxuriously padded walls at Estate (1 Boylston Place, Boston, 617.351.7000) stuffed with impeccable panache every Friday since their party kicked off this past January. In addition to the suave dudes and high-heeled women who routinely show, promoter Cameron Grob promises contemporary house hits for pop sensibilities, as well as remix action that gets asses swinging from the ornate chandeliers. "It's the best house night in Boston," says Grob, who relies on the Vinyl Disciples and DJ Matos to bring a vibrant yet accessible crossfire of domestic and international vocal house. "We like to say it's mixed - not stirred."

 

Spot: Phoenix Landing (Central Square, Cambridge)

Party: Makka Mondays

When: Every Monday

There's an argument to be made that Central Square's Phoenix Landing (512 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.576.6260) is the best-kept secret in Boston-Cambridge when it comes to intense late-night dancing. Then again, such a claim could be compromised by the fact that such parties as Mid-Week Techno on Wednesdays and Drum n' Bass Thursdays have been swelled to the walls for a straight decade. Assisting the Landing in its mission to keep the floor smoking every night but Tuesday (when they have Wii karaoke), DJs Voyager: 01 and Uppercut fill Makka Mondays with a raging spread of roots and dancehall. Guest-wise, expect appearances from the region's top selectors; Junior Rodigan and DJ Gold Finger are hardly strangers. In short, this is not your daddy's reggae show - if you want to sway side to side and puff spliffs to classic Bob Marley slow jams, then you might try the Western Front down the street.

 

Spot: Good Life (Downtown Crossing)

Party: Fresh Produce

When: Last Saturday of Every Month

The list of celebrated rap artists and producers who have manned the downstairs decks at Good Life (28 Kingston Street, Boston, 617.451.2622) could literally double as an abridged hip-hop hall of fame roster. From Jeru the Damaja and Stretch Armstrong to Peanut Butter Wolf, Dr. Claw, and DJ Benzi, host vinyl jockeys DJ Knife and DJ Tommee spare no expense to bring the planet's top urban-minded turntablists to Downtown Crossing's subterranean boom bap bunker. As for the crowd, Fresh Produce is one of the few hip-hop parties in the Northeast that attracts females who don't pack razors in their cheeks; the night draws one of the most diverse crowds in Boston, with all shades of tight asses represented. As you might have noticed, retro-fitted tunes and hipster-hop acts like M.I.A. and Kid Cudi have officially penetrated mainstream consciousness, making nights like this draw much more than just a standard head-nodding b-boy crowd (though breakers often do show up). The result: a bash that looks a lot like House Party and sounds like an electro-smacked old-school and Golden Era upgrade.

 

Spot: District (Leather District)

Party: Status

When: Every Saturday

District (180 Lincoln Street, Boston, 617.426.0180) is one of Boston nightlife's most visually titillating attractions - and not just because of the lounge's refined natural brick and wood styling. The Saturday crowd at this aesthetically wondrous alcove would make for one hell of a hot-body contest; the majority of women in the room are tan and tone, and the men tend to be the same. That said, club promoter Frankie Stavrianopoulos of 6one7 Productions says Status lures a "mature" crowd and serves downtown as the perfect club-bar-lounge hybrid for everything from philandering to mega birthday and bachelorette parties. DJ Matty D regularly spins dance classics from every era, and, to keep the two-and-a-half-years-running event interesting, 6one7 throws the occasional themed gala; recently they hosted a Le Cirque night and a Ducati fashion show. If the name Status sounds a tad elitist, it's because the night's promotion squad has more than earned that right. If you don't get there by 10 p.m., you're not getting in unless you're Ray and Shannon Allen.

 

Spot: Middlesex (Central Square, Cambridge)

Party: Bodega Girls

When: Last Wednesday of Every Month

When a band names Vincent Gallo as an influence, then its audience had better wear waterproof attire. Moderation is a foreign word to the Boston dance-rock troupe Bodega Girls, who in the last year have quickly graduated from underground phenomenon to East Coast icons of sweaty parquet mayhem. Their songs - take, for example, "She's Into Black Guys" - demonstrate the group's credo that absolutely nothing is sacred, and their monthly bangout at Middlesex (315 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.868.6739) proves just the same. At their "Lo-Fi Hedonistic Dance Party," the Bodega Girls deliver pants-down live sets with hot and heavy DJs in between. And what would such a night be without visuals? You never know what might show up on the overhead projector, but you're likely to catch the crotch-stiffening video for their remix of the Sean Bones track "Dancehall" (if you dig naughty '80s workout tapes, then YouTube it immediately). Long story short: you know those party pics you've seen where bearded perspiring animals in vintage tees are getting sandwiched by hipster chicks with no underwear and hoop earrings? Chances are more than a few of them were taken here.

 

Spot: Alchemist Lounge (Jamaica Plain)

Party: This Is Why They Hate Us

When: Every Fourth Saturday

In case you haven't figured it out yet, the "They" in "This Is Why They Hate Us" is code for straight people. That doesn't mean that heteros aren't invited to this post-punk indie-dance throwdown at the Alchemist Lounge (435 South Huntington Avenue, Jamaica Plain, 617.477.5741), but it does mean that right-wing Alabama senators and bigoted Miss USA contestants would likely be offended. In designing TIWTHU, promoter David Dancer jokingly claims that he asked around the Fens and other homo hangouts what gay dudes might want in a party, and the answer was a resounding "Free, loud, and fresh." He also writes that anyone who attends is sure to catch the H1 GAY1 dance virus, so watch out. On a side note - if you're asking yourself "Where is this Alchemist Lounge anyway?" it's time to lace up your candy-colored kicks and ride the Orange Line to JP for some hipster pandemonium.