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GOTH 'N' ROLL
LIVE MUSIC OR A DANCE FLOOR? THE CONTINENTAL COVERS BOTH SIDES OF THE DIVIDE

The Continental

212 Franklin St.

Scene: Industrial Goth

Dress code: Black

Best time to go: Way after midnight

Nights: Thursday through Saturday

Drinks: No frills. Or limes.

Black is the worst color to wear beneath a black light. It betrays every trace of lint or dust. Go figure.

My bondage pants and corset were in the wash, so a grommeted black sweater would have to suffice for Gothic industrial dance night in the Continental. I arrived at the cautious hour of 1 a.m., hoping enough alcohol would have flowed by then to distract from my intrusion.

House of Pain reverberated off the walls of the cavernous club as I paid the $5 entrance fee. Peering inside, I saw that the main room was populated only by a handful of people seated at the bar. I returned to the front booth, where the man behind the desk pointed knowingly to the stairwell off to the right side of the club.

I ascended the stairs and arrived in a gloomy lounge. Disinterested 20-somethings reclined on castoff leather couches while a half-dozen brave souls writhed along to the sounds of Ministry, KMFDM and Duran Duran. They were bathed from above by squares of red, blue and green.

A moment's observation revealed that there is no great difference between dancing to Goth music and, say, dancing to Gloria Estefan. Some swayed, others convulsed. The emphasis was on personal interpretation -- the more outrageous, the better. With the right attitude, you could do the conga.

To my surprise, instead of facing each other, the dancers gravitated toward mirrors flanking the three walls, apparently more intent on perfecting their moves than painting the town. It was a spectacle that would have made Billy Idol proud, but it would take some liquid ambition before I joined in.

The bar was bare-bones, with dust accumulating on the top shelf. An inquiry into the draft beer selection was met with another pointed finger, this time drawing my attention to the rows of bottles in the fridge. I opted for a Corona, which was reasonably priced. My protest at the lack of lime was met with a shrug.

I was gazing half-heartedly at lesbian vampires on the fuzzy television when two new arrivals, wearing white dress shirts and khakis, appeared at the head of the stairs. Emboldened by cerveza and the presence of people less cool than myself, I moseyed onto the dance floor.

With ambivalence, I bopped along to the beat, surprised at the gyrating hips in the reflection before me. Too much Gloria, I thought. I strived to emulate the mechanic, angular moves of the couple next to me, with little success.

Suddenly, the speakers eschewed the familiar industrial clanging, jangly piano and howl of Robert Smith launching into "Love Cats." (An unlikely friendship with the Goth kid in high school homeroom sowed the seeds of my boundless affection for the Cure.) Finally grounded in a familiar song, I swung my hips and flailed my arms with abandon, heedless of spectators.

Exhilarated, yet exhausted, I made my retreat as "Love Cats" faded into Marilyn Manson's "The Dope Show." Uh huh. No matter. The actual song playing as I descended the stairs and drifted into the early morning was of the new wave variety.

"Well there's nothing to lose, and there's nothing to prove. I'll be dancing with myself."

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