In nightlife, most people look for a place to call their home away from home, a place where they can mingle with peers and fellow enthusiasts of whatever it is they call their bag. On a walk through Midtown on any given weeknight, you might see groups of similar-seeming folks chatting each other up in and around haunts like the Rubicon Brewing Co. or Zócalo or Java City. Club 21, at 1119 21st Street, is another such place, especially on Thursday nights (the weekend, after all, begins on Thursday) when it hosts the Rapture, a goth dance night.
This isn’t your average yuppie thumpa-thumpa dance club. There are no valets parking Escalades with spinning rims, no Louis Vuitton handbags or ready-to-wear Jimmy Choos. Take a casual stroll past Club 21 on goth night, as I did not long ago, and you might think for a moment that it’s Halloween. Certainly, as I entered the venue, it seemed that the evening’s dress code had specified black hair and some combination of black leather and eyeliner. But to say so is, unfairly, to indulge a stereotype. Yes, the crowd was filled with folks dressed to the goth nines, but not always did they appear born to play the part. On one side of the room stood a woman who looked just like the dark dominatrix Bettie Page; on the other side, a woman who could have been my kindergarten teacher.
Actually, it’s just such a mix that promoter Andrew Ramsey likes to draw. With the Rapture, Ramsey has created a venue for goth purists—the old-school crowd, in it for the music. Up to 150 of these devotees show up here on a given Thursday night, he said.
For the occasion, Ramsey employs some of the best DJs in town: Jovan Loveless, Love Under Will, Illogical Beats and Das 00ntz. They spin goth and glam classics from the ’70s and ’80s, including choice cuts of the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, the Cult and—wait a second—the Cars? That’s right, I heard it myself. The DJs take requests, and patrons can bring their own CDs—as long as the music fits the program. In other words, no Mel Tormé, please. The place starts poppin’ around 10:30. Fueled by a few drinks, the crowd invades the dance floor, moving to the music gracefully, sans gyration or shaking hips. It’s more like everybody’s doing tai chi in fast-forward. Tattoos come alive in the strobe lights.
Ramsey wants to see the event grow. The Rapture was once an 18-and-older venue, but “certain circumstances” forced a change to 21-and-older, he said. As a result, he’ll be moving the Rapture from Club 21 to Country Club Lanes, at 2600 Watt Avenue, on March 16. The move allows longer hours of operation and a return—presumably more somber than triumphant—of the 18-plus crowd.