The outside of Compound is understated, aside from the quarter-mile line of dressed-to-impress people waiting to get in. Not only is tonight billed as "the new Saturday" at the Atlanta hot spot, but inside the parted doors of the visually stunning club waits the crème de la crème of hip-hop legends -- luscious lips and perfect body included. LL Cool J is there to host, not to cause a scene; but the craze that ensues from his presence is epic.
Compound isn't playing around when it comes to feng shui. One glance inside and it's obvious it's a place someone put a lot of thought into. The main patio area has the kind of vibe that turns the unbearable August-night heat into a sultry accessory. Glowing red paper lanterns adorn the ceilings of white tents that cover a portion of the club. It's mellow, due in part to the beauty of the decor and its spacious ambiance.
In contrast to the languid charm of the outer patio, the room dubbed "MB1" is a far cry from chill. The clean-line decor, polished silver elevators and gallerylike seating are minimal, but perfect against the white backdrop ceilings, floors and walls. Bright fluorescent lights (dimmed to the beat at times) make the dance floor serve its purpose. When "Soulja Boy" starts the bass kicking, you better know how to move. Bartender du jour "Slick Rick" obviously knows what he's doing. He's a charmer. And Toya, one of his fellow Compound crew members, enjoys an avid following herself. As she struts back and forth from the bar to her guests, a line of men leans heavily on the wall to watch her petite figure pass.
As the night wanes on, another section of the club opens and quickly fills with the vibe of hot beats and camaraderie. It's the calm before the storm as the room is set to explode. More people make their way to the front, pressed uncomfortably close to the steel partition and large, ominous bodyguards. The music kicks up and several ladies try to apply gloss in the hot mess of a crowd that has formed.
Then, like a phoenix from the ashes, LL rises. Actually, it's more of a well-timed swagger under the low brim of an all-white Yankees hat and bright blue shirt. Not only is he a prodigy who forged his way into hip-hop in its infancy and hasn't stopped since, he's also beautiful – double whammy.
In fact, he's too beautiful for some of the women, who stop at nothing to touch him. The excitement of the crowd turns into an aggressive concentration of energy moving toward the man. Ankles twist in stilettos, knees are skinned and many fall casualty to the monumental mob scene to get to him. Nothing worthwhile is easy, and only the most dedicated ladies are swept away by his electric touch as he makes his way through the crowd.
Once the last corks are popped and the crowd dies down, Compound returns to normal. Outside the club, it's a ghost town. The once-heavily guarded front doors are quiet, and the street is empty. The Benzes have all been parked, and the limo drivers wait patiently for their respective parties.
Somehow, the Compound crew understands how to make Atlanta go crazy. They do it like it should be done. And they're doin' it well.
Compound. Thurs., 9 p.m.-3 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 p.m.-3 a.m. 1008 Brady Ave. 404-872-4621. Dress code strictly enforced.