Dance Fever

Where to shake it like you mean it
By ABIGAIL CROCKER  |  September 3, 2009

THE MAIN EVENT Raising the roof with the AfroSonic Collective at Providence Black Rep

Those with a hankering for slick riffs and dirty break beats look no further.

Veteran DJs say the Providence dance scene was livelier a decade ago. But the Creative Capital and surrounding environs still offer plenty of possibilities for the rhythmically inclined.

For a spicy mid-week option, check out the Providence Black Repertory Company on Wednesdays for Latin Jazz and Salsa night.

Dance instructors teach Latin fusion, salsa, cumbia and jazz from 8 to 9 pm — then the music kicks up, drawing dancers from across the social spectrum.

And they look sharp. This place requires proper dress. Women wear strapless dresses kicked up with three-inch heels and men don shiny shoes to match brightly colored suits. Red lights give a warm feel to the space and there are balcony seats for those who want to watch the action.

But ladies, consider yourself warned: wallflowers are not allowed. Men take a friendly but forward role in asking partners to dance.

There are live performances by DJ Papo every week. Jazz musician Carlos DeLeon and the UN Band play every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. On Fridays, its the AfroSonic Collective, soulful house music with live drum beats.

To get to the Black Rep, at 276 Westmin-ster Street, look for the canopy of lights that decorate the swankiest part of the street and aim for the red banner.

LOT 401
Lot 401 on Hospital Street is one of the Jewelry District's hotspots, the name a shout-out to the state's area code.

It hosts Goosebumps on Wednesdays, a hipster-centric dance event held down by DJs Micah Jackson and Morgan Louis that's set to kick off again September 16. LED lights change hues in time to the music as arty kids get down. The dress code is skinny denim and greased hair.

Make sure you show up on the right night unless you're looking for something, well, a little different. On Saturdays, Lot 401 holds a swinger night for older couples.

Local 121's Lovelife, a regular upbeat dance party, has been a staple for college kids and young professionals for over a year.

Resident DJs often run the mix tables Fridays in the Speakeasy, the downstairs bar/performance area, or in the first-floor dance space. Remixes feature Kanye West, Justice, Michael Jackson, and Nirvana.

The bar is in the heart of downtown Providence at 121 Washington Street, a stone's throw away from the Convention Center and downcity college campuses.

The beer selection is good and it's a reliable fall back plan when other venues disappoint. It's a popular refrain: "Ah, that party fell through? Want to go to Local?"

It requires a hike over the Henderson Bridge, but East Providence's Merrill Cocktail Lounge on North Broadway offers big band swing that draws out the silver foxes — and those who just like a good jazz combo.

Many of the patrons (aged 55 and over) have been going there for years and have dance steps that put most in the Generation Y camp to shame. A tight house band that plays on Thursdays is a favorite for the tight-knit clientele.

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