Swelter

From the beginning, owner Abdon Grau - one of the more likable club owners in town ("Everybody come here, never no trouble") - has aimed to keep things cheap and to touch all bases. Sunday is family day, with the main dance club closed. Tuesday is American black night, with a lip-synch contest and a half-gay/half-straight crowd. Wednesday is a straight salsa contest. Thursday is a salsa competition for gays. Friday is straight, and there's usually live music - a truly jumping night. Saturday is predominantly gay, with occasional big bands from Santo Domingo and acts like Gloria Gaynor. (On gay nights, the room is called, appropriately enough, On the Waterfront.)

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the boat was jammed with madly salsa-ing Latins, as a few regulars hung out on the riverside deck. Even in the harsh light of day, it is still an oddly irresistible club: the mirrored bathroom stalls with the warning signs "Prohibido entrar 2 personas en un bano"; Grau's furnitureless office, crammed with inscribed publicity stills from Johnny Ventura, Celia Cruz, and Ronald Reagan; the shrine to his father, with an oil portrait, fountain, and an Astroturf-accented garden.

Every bit of it is absolutely wonderful. And best of all, the yuppie ethnic culture voyeurs are not out in force. Yet. A place this great can't go unrecognized, or remain untainted, much longer.

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