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Two for one, part two: Lava Lounge 

(Having just left Cosmopolitan ...) Once inside Lava, my girlfriends and I started at the top and worked our way down. Lava is far more "clubby" than Cosmopolitan, in the usual sense. Rooms have different decor schemes and the music is louder, making chitchat more of a struggle. The people are a little prettier and more standoffish.

The upstairs lounge sometimes functions as a VIP space. Its gauzy drapes create conversation spaces, and skylights reveal striking views of neighboring office towers. This is my room of choice. Breezy thanks to open doors, its soft lighting actually allows you to see the person you are talking to (or would like to be talking to). Sound-wise, DJ J-Luv was breaking out some excellent oldskool hits. (How often do you hear "Freaks Come Out at Night" by Whodini?)

Down a big flight of stairs to the main floor at Lava, it's all about posing and cruising. The barroom's dark purple/blue interior and gorgeous mosaic accents -- plus scattered plush furnishings -- create a mysterious and exotic mood that gives even the most ordinary suburbanite an air of glamour. This is even truer of the vaguely gothic side room, with its fireplace filled with candles and Beetlejuice-inspired furnishings.

Downstairs, in the dance-dedicated basement, the floor was packed, but its low ceiling and border of columns and stone walls made me feel claustrophobic. Adding to the discomfort was the sense that it was a swordfight set to house music down there. Many men were still searching for prey as the clock ticked closer to closing time, and my girls and I felt uncomfortable with the glassy-eyed scrutiny.

But that didn't mean we wanted to go home yet, so we headed back over to twin club Cosmopolitan, where DJ Roberto Torreggiani was closing the night with progressively harder house.

As this was January, the early closing time still came as a bit of a surprise. Those on the dancefloor were quite disoriented when the lights suddenly came on and the music shut off quite unceremoniously.

The verdict: If you prefer an edgy, eclectic or underground crowd, you're in for a disappointment. But overall, the variety of spaces and the number of people make Cosmo/Lava a nice destination for the usual Atlanta singles looking to score a phone number or two.

Lava Lounge. Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.-3 a.m. 57 13th St., 404-873-4202.

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