I'm sure many of you have come rambling along Capitol Hill's Pine Street corridor on a Tuesday night--to get your rat's nest trimmed "just below the lobes" at Rudy's, or maybe to pawn jewelry at Capitol Loans so you have enough cash for another round of Long Islands at R Place--and you've walked past the swelling congregation in front of Aurafice Internet and Coffee Bar. Out front is a motley array of people who look like a group of high-school antiheroes who've been rounded up and taken out for a night of lattes, Italian sodas, board games, and Internet access.

I've been by Aurafice's Tuesday-night event, Polygraphic, in the past, and caught DJs and live PA sets from people like Jerry Abstract and DJ Cloe, playing music ranging from ambient, downtempo, and IDM to experimental electronic. On a recent Tuesday I stopped in to chat with the evening's organizer, a man who goes by the name "Waater." Waater looks the way you might imagine an introverted prober of electronic crevices would look: functional, tidy tech-geek clothing; spectacles; and an ornate silver ring on one finger. Waater started the weekly event last May to provide an all-ages space for the type of music found more commonly in experimental chill-out rooms at raves, or in secluded basements. Electronic music that evolved out of warehouses and parties has now arrived in safe cafe environments. Aurafice's candlelit, teched-out, Seattle-style coffee bar is a perfect symbiotic match for the music and the space.

Michael Maricle is a San Francisco transplant doing a live PA set the night I visit. He says he's 33, but he looks about 22. He's behind a mound of rack effects, a keyboard, drum machines, and a mixer, tweaking knobs and programming beats over ambient loops. The tones are warm and subdued enough for people to check e-mail, play Doom, converse, and relax. A young girl in the corner listens to the music while a guy in his thirties reads some ridiculously thick book. A few people in the crowd could pass for Christopher Lambert's MacLeod character from Highlander. The most heated moment of the evening comes when an older man, who seems to be the undisputed pimp of the chess table, starts representing his mad skills on the chessboard, and everyone scoots in for a closer look.

I felt surprisingly at home here; the place reminded me of how much time I used to spend in coffee shops when I was younger (before I fell victim to the lure of the demon drink and my innocence was all but washed away in some beer garden at a House of Blues event). NICOLAE WHITE

Polygraphic, every Tuesday at Aurafice Internet and Coffee Bar, 616 E Pine St, 860-9977, 9 pm-2 am, all ages, free.


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