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Houston

This began as a story about one of the best-conceived club nights to grace this city in a long time. The night turned a spotlight on Seattle's unsung techno talent, illuminating acts otherwise hidden in bedrooms and basements across town. Upon realizing that the night had folded already (due to poor attendance), I was forced to turn to plan B: Write about a notable recent addition to the slate of drum 'n' bass nights in town... then I remembered that night had fallen prey to a similar fate.

It's more than a little disappointing when the finest local-artist club nights go virtually unnoticed while big meat-market events get all the glory. Pressure, the Thursday night drum 'n' bass feature at ARO.space, had enjoyed years of success before moving to its new digs. Now the only time it's successful is when a big-name out-of-town act is on the bill -- never mind that Eva, one of the night's organizers and resident DJs, can spin some of the meanest jungle in town. Pressure and Eva deserve Seattle's attention. But people want big names, or else they want a scene. Without either of those, you can kiss your crowd draw good-bye.

"Unsung" often translates to "short-lived" in this town. John Lemmon -- who promotes house-music nights when he's not buying for Platinum Records (915 E. Pike) or heading up his own label, ¡Viva! -- has had his share of failed club ventures. Bar and club owners "tend to grow impatient very quickly," he says. Just when word-of-mouth begins to take hold, the backers pull the plug. By his estimate, it takes three to four months for a night to garner enough attention to draw capacity crowds, which is far too long for club owners who need to make rent not quarterly but every damn month.

The odd thing is, raves often book the big-name DJs to ensure a sizable crowd draw. Judging by the size of most ravers' pupils, though, it's clear they don't really give a damn who's behind the decks. They're just happy to be among like-minded, dance-friendly kids. As long as there's beats and pills, they'll keep comin' back.

Call me crazy, but isn't it possible to have sexy, sweaty club nights where music isn't an afterthought but a main concern? If we support those nights that are doing it for the right reasons, like Pressure, then we can have the best of both worlds.

HOW TO SPOT A GOOD CLUB NIGHT

Good: DJs are billed on the flyer.

Bad: Drink specials are billed on the flyer.

Good: Everyone gets a reduced cover before a certain hour.

Bad: It's promoted as a "ladies' night."

Good: The flyer features classy artwork.

Bad: The flyer looks as though it was produced at Kinko's.

Good: It received a shout-out in The Stranger.

Bad: It purchased ad space at the back of all the local rags.