The Big Easy Social & Pleasure Club We tip our feathered felt hats to the dearly departed Miss Ann's Playpen, which closed last summer. The sweaty Third Ward mecca of all things blues was the kind of eternally legit joint that a real blues town like ours needs. But there's a blues club still keepin' it real, and it ain't in one of the wards. Nestled on the outskirts of Rice Village, of all places, the Big Easy welcomes blues hounds, college kids, yuppies in khakis and just about everyone in between. Ditch the pretension percolating at other spots and nurse a brew on Mondays for Jukebox Appreciation Night, or check out regular giggers Luther & the Healers on Wednesdays. And on Sundays you can get your Cajun on with a dose of live zydeco.

The Big Easy Social & Pleasure Club We tip our feathered felt hats to the dearly departed Miss Ann's Playpen, which closed last summer. The sweaty Third Ward mecca of all things blues was the kind of eternally legit joint that a real blues town like ours needs. But there's a blues club still keepin' it real, and it ain't in one of the wards. Nestled on the outskirts of Rice Village, of all places, the Big Easy welcomes blues hounds, college kids, yuppies in khakis and just about everyone in between. Ditch the pretension percolating at other spots and nurse a brew on Mondays for Jukebox Appreciation Night, or check out regular giggers Luther & the Healers on Wednesdays. And on Sundays you can get your Cajun on with a dose of live zydeco.

South Beach Call it "DJs' choice," because this Montrose hot spot garners rave reviews from the high priests of Houston clubbing. Now in its third year of existence, the venue (known in its previous life as Heaven) has more than 10,000 square feet of room to work with -- and a dance floor that fits hundreds. Decknicians drool over its EAW Avalon Series sound system, and the sweaty ladies and gents under their spell love the liquid-nitrogen ice vents that can cool the room by 20 degrees in ten seconds. Perhaps that's why South Beach has been attracting gay and straight crowds alike -- for the boogie-bound, this is the local gold standard.

South Beach
South Beach Call it "DJs' choice," because this Montrose hot spot garners rave reviews from the high priests of Houston clubbing. Now in its third year of existence, the venue (known in its previous life as Heaven) has more than 10,000 square feet of room to work with -- and a dance floor that fits hundreds. Decknicians drool over its EAW Avalon Series sound system, and the sweaty ladies and gents under their spell love the liquid-nitrogen ice vents that can cool the room by 20 degrees in ten seconds. Perhaps that's why South Beach has been attracting gay and straight crowds alike -- for the boogie-bound, this is the local gold standard.

Michael DeGrace These are tough times for house DJs, scrapping to have their signature sound heard above the ubiquitous din of Top 40 and hip-hop. (As if there were much difference between the two nowadays.) If anyone has earned the respect that comes with longevity, though, it's local spinster veteran Michael DeGrace. The venerable resident turntablist at the Habitat after-hours party has kept dance floors hot for more than 20 years, which in DJ years is actually something like 487 years.

Michael DeGrace These are tough times for house DJs, scrapping to have their signature sound heard above the ubiquitous din of Top 40 and hip-hop. (As if there were much difference between the two nowadays.) If anyone has earned the respect that comes with longevity, though, it's local spinster veteran Michael DeGrace. The venerable resident turntablist at the Habitat after-hours party has kept dance floors hot for more than 20 years, which in DJ years is actually something like 487 years.

Masquerade Theatre Musical theater doesn't get too adventurous in Houston. TUTS revives the usual suspects of Broadway warhorses; Broadway in Houston tours the safest current hits; and most of the smaller troupes in town, ever on the edge of financial ruin, can't afford to take too many chances. But for seven years, Masquerade Theatre, near the Heights, has consistently put on terrific, low-budget productions of risky but rewarding shows such as City of Angels, Sweeney Todd, Floyd Collins and A New Brain. The resident acting company all have fine voices, and director Phillip Duggan tends to make the most out of the cramped space that serves as home. The only drawback is the sparse musical accompaniment -- there's no swelling of strings or blasting horn sections here -- but if Masquerade had to pay for a large orchestra, they'd compromise the edgy shows we admire.

Masquerade Theatre Musical theater doesn't get too adventurous in Houston. TUTS revives the usual suspects of Broadway warhorses; Broadway in Houston tours the safest current hits; and most of the smaller troupes in town, ever on the edge of financial ruin, can't afford to take too many chances. But for seven years, Masquerade Theatre, near the Heights, has consistently put on terrific, low-budget productions of risky but rewarding shows such as City of Angels, Sweeney Todd, Floyd Collins and A New Brain. The resident acting company all have fine voices, and director Phillip Duggan tends to make the most out of the cramped space that serves as home. The only drawback is the sparse musical accompaniment -- there's no swelling of strings or blasting horn sections here -- but if Masquerade had to pay for a large orchestra, they'd compromise the edgy shows we admire.

The Men's Club You can go to any club and get rejected by that sweaty college girl with the limp hair in her eyes. You know the routine: The drinks will make you broke and the DJ will play techno that was old last year. So why not try a club where no girl will reject you for a dance and there's also a killer late-night breakfast buffet? As for the techno, that will be replaced by even older and lamer Lynyrd Skynyrd, but if you're in a place like this and you're actually listening to the music, then maybe you're in the wrong joint. At The Men's Club, dances will cost you 20 bucks a pop, but the girl will be topless (and probably not in college) and your lap will get a workout. The Men's Club is the real deal: late hours (until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), cheap drinks, girls aplenty, rock and roll, sweat and boobs. Who could ask for anything more?

The Men's Club of Houston
The Men's Club You can go to any club and get rejected by that sweaty college girl with the limp hair in her eyes. You know the routine: The drinks will make you broke and the DJ will play techno that was old last year. So why not try a club where no girl will reject you for a dance and there's also a killer late-night breakfast buffet? As for the techno, that will be replaced by even older and lamer Lynyrd Skynyrd, but if you're in a place like this and you're actually listening to the music, then maybe you're in the wrong joint. At The Men's Club, dances will cost you 20 bucks a pop, but the girl will be topless (and probably not in college) and your lap will get a workout. The Men's Club is the real deal: late hours (until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), cheap drinks, girls aplenty, rock and roll, sweat and boobs. Who could ask for anything more?

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