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Dance club Venus de Milo deserves its popularity

Venus de Milo
11 Lansdowne St.
Boston

By Ted Miguel
As my interminable wait neared its end one bitterly cold January night and my turn to enter Venus de Milo approached, I looked up and down that gaudy street behind Fenway Park and thought, "Is this half-hour in line and the ten bucks I am going to pay worth it? What is it about this place that gets people to come back again and again, packs the coat rooms every Saturday night, and makes people (like me) stand outside in the freezing cold to wait?"

The answer is simple. Venus de Milo is able to give different kinds of people what they want. In addition to good music and a large dance floor, it has the most varied clientele of any club in Boston.

The club is located behind Kenmore Square, near Axis and Julian's Billiard Hall, and is within walking distance of the Kenmore T-stop. It's a five dollar taxi ride from 77 Massachusetts Ave.

Inside, Venus de Milo is impressive. The brightly colorful, yet tasteful, interior is deceptively large. The huge lower level of the club becomes a single dancing area on Friday and Saturday nights, swarming with hundreds of hot, and tightly packed, people. Standing too close to one of the speakers is not recommended; it can really hurt your ears. There is also a stage right above the dance floor for the more daring.

The two bars are both quite large. Along with the many benches and chairs located all around both the upper and lower levels, they make the perfect places for striking up conversations and meeting other club-goers, most of whom tend to be friendly and eager to meet new people. These dark nooks are subtly illuminated by purple neon lights.

One of the most striking qualities of the club is its ability to cater successfully to various groups on different nights, something that other Kenmore Square giants -- like Narcissus -- often fail to do. Thursday, Techno Night, attracts a young and artsy, mostly college-age crowd that dances to the latest progressive dance tracks until the wee hours.

Friday nights play more mainstream dance music, although some alternative or techno is usually thrown in. The crowd on Fridays is younger than Thursday's; it appears that many in it still have several years to go in high school. However, the social, i.e. pick-up, scene on Fridays is still extremely active. A more mature audience comes on Saturdays, a kind of retro 70s and 80s night, when disco and Madonna's older stuff are the dominant fare. If you don't know who the Village People were, don't bother showing up.

I once ventured -- unknowingly -- to Venus on a Wednesday night with a female date only to find out that it was Gay Night. Not deterred, I entered and found several pleasant surprises. The cover was only three dollars, well within the budget of a poor college student like myself. The music -- house with some techno -- was to my taste, and the dance floor was not crowded at all. In terms of price and good music to dance to, I recommend Wednesday nights, although some would feel uncomfortable without a date of the opposite sex.

One of the gripes I have with Fridays and Saturdays is that by 11:30 p.m. or midnight, the club is packed. This is a good reason to plan going during the week. On weekends it is virtually impossible to leave, or get to, the middle of the dance floor without getting elbowed and stepped on many times. Those planning to go Friday or Saturday nights should get there by ten to avoid waiting in line outside in the frigid winter air for a half-hour or more and to have some time on the dance floor without worrying about personal injury.

Before closing, I want to inform the reader of a deception that Venus de Milo appears to practice in those coupon books which are given out occasionally in front of Lobby 7. They contain passes that promise the holder free admission to the club on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night. Don't be fooled! On several occasions I have attempted to use them -- once after calling in advance and being told that they were being accepted that night. However, each time I have been informed at the door that due to some special promoter or guest, or miscommunication with the front office I would have to pay the full ten dollars that night.

Also be aware that at the coat room you will not be able to put more than one jacket on a single hanger for this is against "club policy." Bring a buck fifty for each one. Drinks sell for the going rate -- about two dollars for a soda and four for an alcoholic beverage.

Venus de Milo may be too expensive for regular visits by most people. For a special treat though, pick your night, arrive early, and enjoy one of the most popular night spots in Boston.