A Night in the Tropics
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By MONICA CORCORAN
Published: July 17, 2005
Culver City, Calif.
Culver City, Calif.
METEOROLOGISTS call it the calm before the storm. For a bartender, it’s that hour or so of eerie tranquillity when the scrape of a stool squeaks loudly. “It doesn’t get going until later, and then it gets really crazy,” Brittany Istre said as she swabbed the bar at Carbon, a gritty club on a dejected stretch of boulevard in a suburb of Los Angeles. Only three people hunched over their drinks on this Tuesday night. It didn’t look promising.
Stephanie Diani for The New York Times
Then, at 11, two leggy women rolled in like thunderclouds, and the forecast changed. These women did not primp for nothing. Tuesday is reggae night at Carbon, and some of the city’s best dance D.J.’s – Benji Brotha, Phers 1 and Suckapunch – spin here. Within 15 minutes, the bar was half full with a crowd mostly Ethiopian, Jamaican and Latino. “It’s not fancy, but the music is cutting edge,” said Gabrielle Arana, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I have been to lots of expensive clubs in Hollywood that aren’t half as cool and intimate. The dance floor has a real pulse.”
Come midnight the tiny dance floor had spread like a spilled drink. When limber people move to reggae, they shimmy and sway like seasoned sailors rolling to a boat’s rhythm. “You don’t come here to talk about work,” said Benji Brotha, 37, who took the first watch at the turntable. “You come to dance.” Expect to sweat, too. Carbon is windowless and heats up faster than a George Foreman grill once it fills up.
Lots of the men had white towels snaked around their necks or peaking from their back pockets. One woman seductively dabbed between her breasts with an ice cube and pretended not to notice that a group of guys had encircled her. When she popped the melting cube into her mouth, one man feigned collapse. She didn’t blink.
“Reggae is very sexy music, and the men on the dance floor are definitely ready to pounce on you,” Yvette Boudry, 24, said. “You just have to give him that look that says, ‘Look all you want, but hands off, baby.’ ”
9300 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, Calif.; (310) 558-9302.
GETTING IN No cover.
DRESS CODE Wedge heels, cleavage and gold bangle bracelets for women; Puma sweat suits and flip-flops for men.
SIGHTINGS Gavin Rossdale, Kid Rock, Pamela Anderson.
D.J. PICKS “One Thing” by Amerie; Marcia Griffiths’s cover of “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”
SIGNATURE DRINK The Incredible Hulk, a shot of Hennessy and a shot of Hpnotiq liqueur over ice, $10. Yes, it’s neon green.