A CURIOUS FRIEND and I waddled into the Soiree des Femmes at the Backdoor Ultra Lounge, ready to throw off our coats and the evening cold. We sat ourselves down on the first set of uncomfortable stools and gawked. It seemed we had landed in the Brady basement--the one, we joked, whose bar Greg and Marcia might have opened to friends while the parents were away.

Under the lava-lamp glow and swirling disco lights, we found our second set of uncomfortable seats (a '50s hair-salon chair for me, a wooden dining-room chair for my friend), and attempted to listen to the music over the drunken shouts of three frat boys in the corner.

Lounge and neo-lounge ditties filtered through the air, DJ Dean linking together Stereolab, Cibo Matto, Momus, and '60s TV show soundtracks. But too much French and retro-sampling turned things uncomfortably surreal: On the dance floor, a video camera recorded early risers; a man in 18th-century costume glided between them; overhead, Age of Exploration ships loomed on felt canvasses.

I was relieved when house music began to roar over the Lounge, a Lighthouse Family tune finally delivering a jolt of electronic jubilation. People were piling onto the dance floor. My friend and I followed suit, joining the coifed boys and halter-topped girls to form a bouncing net of bodies. A few hard-stepping songs later, DJ Special K began slowing it down with Masters at Work's "To Be in Love," soothing our ears and aching feet.

Exhausted, I went over the evening in my mind, trying to locate the effects of the music, people, and atmosphere. It was like we had spent the whole night sampling cocktails we had never tried before: discovering some bombs (lounge retro-vivalism and second-hand seats), a few favorites (heart-thumping house, a female DJ), and all the while questioning whether we should stay or go.

We shouldered and elbowed our way through the tangle of people and shot out of the place like cannonballs. Into the street and cold, we headed for home, rest, and some comfortable seating.

[Editor's note: As of press time, Soiree des Femmes has ended at the Backdoor; no word on when or if it will reappear.]

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