Shanae Harris, Howard University News Service
Tuesday nights at the Chi Cha Lounge bring bright lights, a pinch of Salsa, and fine flamenco dancers twirling and swirling to the melodies of their great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers.
The energy starts rising in the lounge around 9 p.m. and stays up high for hours. But when the music stops, the lights come up, and people head for the exit. The partying is over, totally over. The dancers just minutes before were too excited to be still, calmly walk out of the door, get in their cars and leave.
“The let-out,” the popular pastime of loitering outside of clubs and lounges after hours to socialize and experience free fun does not seem to be as much of a craze for those of Latin descent and the lovers of Latin partying.
“We start at happy hour and continue on well into the night,” said Jessica Gibson, a spokeswoman for a chain of clubs called Latin Concepts. “Our big crowds, of course, come out on the weekend nights, but we still don’t have problems with too much loitering.”
Azurra Flores, 22, who frequently attends Zanzibar’s Latin Night on Wednesdays, is one of the people who doesn’t linger. “When I go out I’m usually ready to just go home once it’s over. Everyone knows it’s going to be hectic and crowded once the club lets out so I don’t stick around too much.”
Nor does tourist from New York April Rodriguez stick around. “I really don’t stand outside the club,” said Rodriguez, “It’s annoying and I hate when other people do it, what’s the point?”
For security reasons, Republic Gardens on U Street, a popular strip for night-lifers, discourages loiterers outside the club on Latin nights as well as any other night, according to co-owner Gretta Jameson.
“Security doesn’t let people stand outside. They tell them they have to move along to avoid problems with crowdedness and people getting injured due to the closeness of the club to the street,” Jameson said.
Jameson added that there is not too much hesitation on the guests’ part to keep the pace as they leave. “With all of the food places around Republic Gardens, usually people are so hungry after dancing and partying so much that they shoot straight there.”
That’s exactly what Stephanie Ogando, a 20-year old student, does when she leaves the clubs.
“After I leave salsa, I’d rather go and eat than stand outside. You burn up so much energy in there and quite frankly I get the munchies,” Ogando said. “Also, people tend to fight when they get in big groups, too much tension in the air and it’s not my scene.”
Park Police Sgt. Craigory Green, said “the let out” is a prime time for trouble. “It’s mainly alcohol and guys trying to impress girls,” Green said, “but the key issue is the alcohol.”
Nurys Anzina has discovered a safe way avoid the crowds and stay around for the after party. “When the party is over, me and ‘me citas’ like to sit in the car outside the building. It’s the best way to see what’s going on for after hours.” For information on Latin Clubs in the DC area, go to www.salsaclubs.com.