Redeye - Band together September 02 2004

Say what you will about dance clubs in Atlanta — and throw in a couple of cuss words for me — but venues such as eleven50 still serve as amazing special events facilities. For a Camel cigarettes soiree held Thurs., Aug. 26, eleven50 was recast as an eclectic playground for hedonistic flappers and dandies. With red velvet curtains and wandering groups of folks who seemed not so much like characters than caricatures, it was like David Lynchian Kabarett. Odder still was the musical mix, putting the bristling Brill Building '60s bubblegum pop-meets-'80s post-punk of Denmark's the Raveonettes with bass 'n' breaks DJs Baby Anne and Rennie Pilgrem.

At the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center on Sat., Aug. 28, an equal amount of chaotic contrast reigned. After a flirty performance from North Carolina burlesque troupe the Rebelles, New York multi-culti contortionists Gogol Bordello took to the stage. While a freak show of sorts, the gypsy cabaret punks made music — not just bodies — knot and writhe, and howled through a set of polyrhythmic jigs. Some of the well-heeled and coifed crowd looked like they were playing a game of musical chairs that got yanked out from under them, while others shook and shrieked as if swept up in the rapture.

Good sportsmanship

To the right of the Clermont Motor Hotel on Ponce de Leon, Dugan's' neon-littered windows end in a covered patio, like a scenic overlook surveying a raging river of traffic cascading into a golden pond of sunset. I've meant for nearly a decade to just stop in and check it out. Of course, last time I said that it was about the Phoenix, the most unholy of holies in terms of crusty cruising grounds. And then I actually did. Shudder.

I'm not comparing Dugan's directly to the Phoenix in any respect, mind you. Dugan's has always looked inviting, though not necessarily enticing. It's the general concept of stopping anywhere while barreling down Ponce toward a far-off finish line that stopped me.

However, for those times when it's about someone else racing, or making that three-point conversion, or that three-point shot, Dugan's is a safe bet. Yet the evening of Sun., Aug. 29, it felt more like a neighborhood bar than a sports bar. The long rectangular bar near the entrance was crowded by upper 20s to mid-30s brothas lounging comfortably, whether in oversize jerseys, linen suits or khakis and a backward-bent Kangol. Signs advertised karaoke Mondays, where you can "get your song on."

Loud hip-hop, blues and R&B alternated over the speakers inside, while outside the friendly servers crowded around a big-screen TV and shrieked not because of any sports team, but because the A-Town team — Usher, Lil Jon, Ludacris and OutKast — was dominating the MTV Video Music Awards. "Hey Ya" met hell yeah! What?!? OK!?!

I was too busy eating to shriek. If you stop by Dugan's, you gotta try the wings and onion rings, and as even the medium sauce has sizzle, wash 'em down with a frozen margarita or daiquiri. Best thing is the kitchen stays open till around 1-1:30 a.m., so Dugan's can be the jump-off or the drop-off, no matter if it's about a baseball wind-up or just winding down.

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.