Puddles dot the concrete floor as drenched twentysomethings shuffle out of the pouring rain and down MJQ's dimly lit corridor. The horrendous weather outside gives the underground club the feel of a clandestine bunker. The aesthetic of scuffed concrete and neon lights is reminiscent of the cyberpunk bars of William Gibson novels.
A lone figure in a Hawaiian shirt graces the empty dance floor. He slowly writhes to the Pixies' "Gouge Away," like something out of a Lynchian nightmare. The TV in the corner plays "Family Guy" reruns with closed captions. A few couples line the neon-lit bar. They shoot the shit while nursing $2 PBRs. "Don't get me wrong. I like No Age. I just hate it when they get noisy."
"Isn't that the point?" the scruffy-faced boyfriend responds condescendingly.
MJQ is not your typical Atlanta club – a fact upon which it prides itself. It may share its grimy, bare-bones decor with Lenny's, but its crowds are a bit less homogenized than the average Lenny's clientele. Tonight, the place is a mix of hip-hoppers, average Joes, hipper-than-thou indie kids and young punks.
Around midnight, the crowd begins to thicken. As the din rises, the music shifts from American indie rock to Brit-pop classics. The Smiths' "Big Mouth Strikes Again" hits like a visit from an old friend. "This is my song!" a pale-faced girl shouts to her friend as they head to the dance floor. There's not much dancing going on at the moment. Instead, onlookers line the floor, sipping Red Stripes and sizing up the scene.
The wall next to the DJ booth is adorned with a mural of two stick figures engaging in canine-style lovemaking. By 1 a.m., the crowd seems to reflect the nearby mural, bumping and grinding to anything with a four-on-the-floor beat. A crew of break-dancers soon commandeers the floor, offering the damp crowd a welcomed spectacle. The flashy acrobatics give the crowd its second wind. The DJ senses the spike in the energy level. He puts on Primal Scream's "Loaded," and suddenly everything feels all right. In some ways MJQ is a bunker, offering a retreat from the boredom of a rainy Wednesday night.