When you've gotta dance

UP FRONT

July 13, 2000|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to The Sun

Whatever your dance, be it salsa, the tootsie-roll or a more free-form style, there are plenty of hip-shaking hotspots to choose from in the Baltimore area.

With more nightclubs than ever these days, you'll find plenty of music and dance floors to go around. Many of these dance clubs are clustered near the Inner Harbor, either on Market Place near Port Discovery or on nearby cross streets. Boston Street in Canton and Broadway in Fells Point are other favorite clubbing spots in the city.

The counties also have their fair share of great dance clubs, with enough parking that even if you live in the city it's worth the trip on a Friday or Saturday night.

To uncover exactly where people are showing off their moves in and around Charm City, we strapped on our dancin' shoes and ventured out. We found clubs of all varieties, from small, dark and subtle to over-the-top glamour and glitter. Some cater to teen-agers, others to a more mature crowd. At a few there was no cover, at others it was as much as $15. Dress codes and drink prices also vary, so call first to find out exactly what's what on the night you plan to visit.

Read on for a sampling of the area's dancing headquarters.

Attitudes 3000, 11445 Pulaski Highway, White Marsh, 410-335-7111.

Head for Attitudes 3000 after a movie at the White Marsh Theaters. It's right up the street, and you can go in your jeans; the atmosphere is casual and relaxed, as is the dress code. The two biggest perks here are the ample parking in the huge side lot and the full bar, which has a number of draft beers - a rarity for a dance club. The music is upbeat and easy to dance to (you'll know the words), and the colored lighting and oversize disco ball make the atmosphere a festive one. The crowd is a bit older than the college-age clubbers who frequent many of these dance spots, and many were dancing in couples rather than in groups. Expect plenty of seating: Attitudes 3000 is a restaurant in the daylight hours.

Baja Beach Club, 55 Market Place, 410-727-0468.

With its laid-back style and tiki-thatched bars, this Caribbean-theme club nurtures a friendly atmosphere that rivals that of the Bahamas. In fact, the accumulation of patrons' bras suspended from the ceiling rivals the collection at the island of Bimini's End of the World Saloon. Although there were no calypso or reggae tunes - not even a Jimmy Buffet number thrown in for good measure - the Top-40 dance music seemed to please the crowd, and everyone sang along. You'll find that the bartenders are about as scantily clad as is legally possible. The floor was packed with dancers who ranged in age from 21 to 30. Baja is perhaps most famed for its Wednesday ladies' nights. Not only is there no cover charge, but women also drink free all night.

Bar Baltimore, 34 Market Place, 410-385-2992.

The newest of the bunch, Bar Baltimore promises a wild time. With locations in a number of cities across the United States, Bar has become renowned for the women it entices to dance on its wide bars. This is not a myth; periodic requests by the DJ for ladies (paying customers as well as Bar employees) to get up on the bar and dance meet with an enthusiastic response by the crowd. No stripping, just good ol' lighthearted dancing, makes this a fun-spirited rather than bawdy experience. The enormous central bar and super-high ceiling (the club is in the old Brokerage building) give Bar Baltimore a colossal feel, but the atmosphere is neighborly rather than grandiose.

Cancun Cantina, 7501 Old Telegraph Road, Hanover, 410-761-6188.

Live bull riding every other Friday at 8 p.m. - professionals only. We kid you not. This huge nightclub draws crowds not only for its great dancing (country Tuesdays and Saturdays, Top-40 Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and Latin Sundays) but also for the chance to see this unusual spectacle out on the sand behind the club. Located on the south side of Baltimore-Washington International Airport (the parking's great - there's a large, well-lit lot), the club is a spectacle in its own right. Indoors you'll find three bars and a massive wood dance floor, and four pool tables to keep you entertained between songs. The outside space is divided between a covered area (enclosed in the winter) and more than 1,000 uncovered square feet of sand and palm trees, perfect for summer nights. With shooter and beer-tap girls around every corner, getting a drink is never a problem.

China Room, 44 South St., corner of East Pratt and South streets, 410-625-4600.

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