Lyrics versus Brasils: Bar Hopping or In the Hood
December 28, 2006
Salsa article by an Anonymous Salsero
Here’s an e-mail I received from an anonymous salsero that compares Lyrics versus Brasils. It gives a different perspective on these two salsa clubs in the Philadelphia area.
I go out all the time, so I’m beginning to have night vision and beginning to be able to see the differences of certain clubs, who they cater to, the music, the DJ’s, the politics. Going out all the time has earned me a minute bit of clout and I’m beginning to be recognized as a dancer. (No, I’m not a pro or a promoter) I’m also starting to see things I hadn’t seen before. The more people I meet, the more bits of interesting information I find out. A salsero took the time to explain neighborhoodedness to me over a beer one time. What invaluable information. I ran with it. Alfies, Lyrics, North by Northwest are neighborhood spots! Brasils, Cuba Libre, Sambas are commercial spots. Here’s my definition of Lyrics versus Brasils for what it’s worth: Ultimately comparing the two clubs is like comparing apples to oranges or Merengue to Bachata, they’re totally different!
At Lyrics (And Alfie’s, North by Northwest) there are lots of neighborhood folks and trained dancers alike having fun. People don’t smoke there anymore and I like that. Get there by 10 and there’s plenty of room to dance. It doesn’t get crowded until late and even still dancers rotate so that there’s room on the floor. There’s a big Latino sub-culture here and a certain kind of authenticity because of it. Lyrics is first and foremost about “people”. There are lots of dancers that have never been trained and just feel the music and they’re wonderful to watch. You can see what great fun they’re having. For those who don’t salsa there’s always some booty shaking reggaeton at around 12:30 -1am. Not from the neighborhood, no problem, but you’ll have to do all the asking, until you become a familiar face, even if you’re a woman. My girlfriend danced at Lyrics for 4-6 weeks before she stopped having to ask every guy to dance with her. Once you’ve paid your dues and become a familiar face, you’re ALWAYS family at this place!
Brasils couldn’t be more different from Lyrics. Brasil’s caters to UPenn students, the after work crowd, commercial music lovers, La Luna wanna-be’s, and also a core of people that just like to dance on Wednesdays. I fit into the last category. I choose Brasil’s on Wednesday because it’s close to my house, it’s safe, there’s free parking and I’m used to it. DJ Jay Rockwell plays more commercial music than the other DJ’s, which is fine because he does have good taste and he’s so damn animated! Go DJ. Go DJ: “Okay, guys you ready to dance? Work those girls!” Sometimes the DJ even plays new, never heard remixes of great salsa tunes. Brasils is definitely current and it’s a venue frequented by Philly’s finest dancers each week. On the other hand, it’s very small, sweaty and the air conditioners drip. The smoking (even after the ban) is unbearable, the beers and water are expensive and they don’t have anything delicious to drink on tap, just commercial schlock (Bud, Corona, Coors…Yuck!). How about a more creative beer selection? Chestnut b/w 2nd and Front is not a neighborhood, it’s a bar district and it attracts a lot of walk-ins and fly by nights, who will dance right into you, step on you or allow you to be stepped on! Despite this, I’m there almost every Wednesday. Most of my dancer friends do not prefer this spot!
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