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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 07/21/2005

Ups and Downs on the Club Scene

By Rhome Anderson

For 4 1/2 years at Aroma, DJ Dredd brought an infusion of funk to Cleveland Park residents and more than a few carpetbaggers who traveled across town to dance to his sets of hip-hop and soul classics. Differences with the management have led him to finally end his run on Connecticut Avenue. It's a great loss indeed, as his regular Friday night gigs provided an important venue to not only dance to hip-hop outside of the mega-club environment, but to party somewhere outside of the usual crowded nightlife districts. You can still catch him at The Blue Room, and his Vegetate restaurant should be opening in late August after battling numerous delays.

Meanwhile, the New York Avenue corridor just might be experiencing the turn-around that has long been hoped for. Huge craters in the ground will soon turn into more office buildings and condos, and now there's a new upscale nightclub joining Dream and Avenue. It's too early to stamp a definitive rating on the spot, but Mirrors shows a lot of promise. The main level is roomy without being cavernous -- the large space is broken up with islands of couches, some sectioned off with drapery. The upper room is smaller and more loft-like, with less of the increasingly common Ikea, swank-style touches from downstairs.

I'm not saying that the place doesn't look good, but more important than its style is the owners' plan for its use. They've already brought in a few promoters in the usual clubbing vein -- a lively Caribbean party was happening on Saturday with a great DJ -- but Mirrors is eventually slated to be a live music spot for progressive urban artists who have the talent but not the fan base to fill the big venues. MN8 has done well bringing those acts to the Black Cat, but the prospect of that caliber of talent in a less-grimy environment with equally great sound would be a huge win for the scene. While Fur, Five and Dream have worked this niche to some success, none of them has permanently installed a live performance infrastructure. If they don't bring in staging and sound for special events, most dance clubs run live sound through systems tuned for pre-recorded music. But Mirrors actually has an impressive live-music PA system that sounds good with DJs; management also is planning to beef up the main stage for better sight lines.

Julie Dexter and Leelah James have already played at Mirrors and future shows include local hip-hop superhero Priest da Nomad and R&B veterans Tony, Toni, Toné.

-- Rhome

By Rhome Anderson  | July 21, 2005; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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