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The big bang in 2007 

Rave review and a challenge for Atlanta nightlife

I was bored to death until I went to the F-in Socialites' Sloppy Seconds party at the Royal in the fall of 2006. Before then, Atlanta's nightclubs seemed passé, out of step with the rest of the country. VIPs fortified by expensive vodka and scrambling like rodents behind a velvet rope is so '90s. And MJQ's endless repeats of DFA and the Rapture chestnuts felt like some sick joke rehashed from 2002.

Sloppy Seconds was like a splash of color onto a drab black-and-white screen. Yes, DJ Klever, its resident turntablist, relied too much on a handful of familiar B-more and electro-house jams, and didn't venture far enough into the obscure recesses of popular and underground sounds. But the energy in the crowd felt vibrant and exciting. The F-in Socialites seemed to spur their imaginations, encouraging them to wear the craziest outfits and party with abandon.

Suddenly, the old Friday-night standby Decatur Social Club jettisoned its recipe of corny oldies by Michael Jackson for the latest trends in dance-music culture. And where innovators travel, MJQ follows. It quickly assembled a potent Saturday-night lineup including the indefatigable Rob Wonder and DJ DJ Dylan, who blossomed into jet-setting mixologist Le Castle Vania. The F-in Socialites' Sloppy Seconds begat other potent affairs, too, such as Broke N Boujee, the Bang Bang parties, Crew Love and many, many others.

Some people will take issue with my chronology, harangue me for omitting important names and dispute who started what, when and where. I don't care. My point is that in 2007, Atlanta nightlife was interesting again.

Still, success can breed arrogance. It wasn't long before the scene's players started dismissing promoters who didn't mesh with their vision, and ignored other vibrant trends such as the always-inventive house scene (shouts to Chris Grass, Mike Zarin and the Sweat crew), the true-school hip-hop devotees and, most importantly, the hoi polloi who partied in Buckhead and Midtown lounges. When the Buckhead clubs closed and its crowds migrated to places like MJQ, you could see the cultures clashing.

A revelatory moment arrived when DJ Drama, the pied piper of Southern hardcore rap, descended upon MJQ in late November, days before the cold winter froze Atlanta in a kind of stasis. At the end of the night, I saw a drunken woman wander out of MJQ and shout loudly, "Just another wack-ass night with DJ Drama!" Later, some friends of mine complained that DJ Drama hadn't "mixed it up" enough. What did they want, Playaz Circle's "Duffle Bag Boy" spliced with Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night"? Drama spins hardcore rap; he's not Prince Presto!

To me, the DJ Drama affair was when the irrational exuberance of the moneyed rap world and the irrational pretensions of the budding indie-dance scene bumped into one another, leaving both with a bit of a headache afterward. Atlanta definitely got fresher this year, but it needs to learn how to free its mind and party without cultural expectations before it will truly be funky enough.

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