Sunday nights at Re-bar, $6.
The best time to indulge is on a school night, because the act of indulgence feels that much more taboo. Getting silly-drunk and dancing one's way into the morning is usually well worth the subsequent hangover, especially when good friends are involved. Flammable, a club night that happens every Sunday night at the Re-bar (1114 Howell St), is just the occasion for such indulgence. The event has been going on for a long time now; the crowds are large and upbeat; and while Flammable is considered a gay night, it's usually very mixed.
Mixed is a good thing. Put too many gay men in one room with alcohol, and libidos begin to go apeshit. Throw in dancing, and everyone's shirt comes off. By 1:30 a.m. at a gay club like, say, Arena, all erotic potential becomes squishy, flaccid, and depressing. Desperation becomes borderline physically intrusive. Women bring good energy to a dance floor: their bodies move differently, and they are an aesthetic complement to men; plus, women are usually more subtle in their cruising. Add smiling, limber straight men to the mix, and you have the sort of desirable balance that Re-bar manages to achieve on Sunday nights.
Tonight I have given myself permission to drink without worry, and to dance until the lights come up. This is an easy task, because Flammable doesn't actually get going until 11:30 or midnight, and the bar shuts down punctually at two. Prior to heading down there I have three drinks, which gear me up adequately for dancing. Re-bar serves beer and wine, so I order a Rolling Rock, which I will end up setting aside and eventually forgetting about once I get my groove on.
Flammable's resident DJ, Brian Lyons, is spinning a fine set of house music. The atmosphere is just right for feeling good and dancing. People smile and move freely here, and the Re-bar's excellent interior is dim and unpretentious. The vibe is one of a happy house party: not tacky like a gay disco, or pathetic and hammy like a straight one. Several good friends are here: K., likely Detroit's finest booty-shaking export, is in the house to bitch about the vocals in the mix. "I wish they'd just shut the bitch up!" she screams, referring to whatever diva Lyons is infusing into his set, but the diva doesn't bother me at all. Lyons' house is pretty deep, and the voice of the diva in question is full and soothing. Detroit K. dances like a motherfucker regardless, pounding back a beer in her fake fur coat and horn-rimmed glasses. Detroit K. is the kind of beautiful freak you sadly miss if you're a fag who dances only at fag bars.
Lyons finishes up shortly after we arrive, and this week's guest DJ takes the stage. It's Reuben Mancias, from San Francisco. According to the little flier I've grabbed, Mancias is a regular at San Francisco's Endup and Devotion. I've been to Endup twice, and Mancias' high-energy mix is the kind of house set I remember hearing there. As Mancias gets busy, a breakdancing circle opens up. This is the night's treat. Several of the dancers are outstanding, and while the circle isn't as spectacular as the one that will open up at Nation's Broken Beats tomorrow night, it lends this party a great dynamic. It's also unintimidating: I, myself, am easily talked into doing the worm, which I have probably done about three or four times since my days as a prepubescent breakdancer. I am grateful to the Percocet I took earlier for enabling a pain-free breakdancing execution.
As the party continues, I am inspired by my friends, and even total strangers: the smiles they wear on their handsome faces, their unique beauty and movements as they succumb to a couple good DJs, each of them lavishing unspoken acts of praise upon a truly great dance night in Seattle.