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Sounds of Science

Clubbers at the Pink on Sunday nights know the No. 1 priority is the beat.

June 19, 1997|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Say goodbye to your eardrums and equilibrium, and so long to any semblance of clubland ennui, because it's time to dive into Science, an empirically electric dance club schooling its students in drum-and-bass theory.

Science, which takes place at the Pink in Santa Monica every Sunday night, isn't for the rave of heart. It's a lean and loud pulsating machine, with promoters intentionally keeping the small club very dark, offering no distracting light shows or swirling video screens.

Science is all about the music, and for those unfamiliar with the drum-and-bass, or jungle, genre--it's exactly what it sounds like. It's a thumping and rapid, almost tribal sound, composed of a menagerie of beats. Imagine if you loaded a blender with a jigger of ska, a dash of reggae, a chunk of hip-hop and a pinch of techno, then cranked the dial up to the highest setting possible. Voila, you've got some idea of the fast and furious, sonic temperament of drum-and-bass.

"It's a 21st century sound in a 20th century time frame," says MC ?, one of Science's resident emcees and a drum-and-bass diehard since '91. "It's totally futuristic."

One of Science's strengths is its uniqueness. "We're one of the premier drum-and-bass clubs in America at this point in time," says Chris Vargas, a 22-year-old club promoter, who teamed with Urb magazine to launch Science 4 1/2 months ago. "The music's so dope, it replaces drugs."

He's not off the mark. A lot of local dance scenes seem to require a bit of synthetic stimulation from its audience, but this crowd seems blissed-out exclusively on the music. Among the resident deejays are DJ Jun, an Aron's records employee by day and poetic vinyl waxer by night, and Urb magazine's Raymond Roker. Nearly every week, guest deejays are brought in to add to the mix. This Sunday's visiting deejays, Fierce and Nico, are pioneers of Tek-step--a techno-oriented drum-and-bass--and are coming to Science straight outta the U.K.

But no matter who's at the helm doing the turntable tweaking, the bodies stay in motion. One of the most interesting elements of Science is dissecting the dance floor--a veritable people-watching heaven. It seems that every groover is dancing to a different song. What seems to occur is, the dancers may be listening to the same song but they're interpreting it completely differently.

Because of the layers of sound, someone might be "catching a ride"--MC ?'s line for latching onto a grooveable beat--to the bassline, while another person focuses only on the drums. Like boogie-down drill sergeants, MC ? and Cokni O' Dire--the club's other house MC--take turns barking out freestyle raps over the swift beats, offering verbal guidance for anyone clinging to an aural edge.

It's a blast to watch, but observing the scene isn't easy. Not only is the music so infectious it's nearly impossible to stand still, but the club's positive energy makes you just want to dive in and catch a ride yourself.

Because it's a still-breaking genre, the scene feels young and raw, like the early days of hip-hop, and those already converted make newcomers feel welcome rather than invasive of their turf. The coolest thing is, there's no need to fight the feeling, this is one Science test no one fails.

BE THERE

Science at the Pink on Sundays, 2810 Main St., Santa Monica, (213) 960-1006 or (310) 392-1077. 21 & over, $5 to $10 cover.

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