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April 6, 2010

John Waters, '50s jams and cutting a rug at Lithuanian Hall

the imposing outer facade of lithuanian hall scares away everyone  except the fearless. the fearless come to dance. Like clockwork, every couple months, someone e-mails me asking for suggestions on cool places to go dancing.

Baltimore doesn't have enough clubs and dance halls, but there are a few places where you can cut a rug -- if you know where to look.

Last Friday, jmgiordano and I hit up Lithuanian Hall, which has long been a mainstay for hipster dance nights. Pablo Fiasco has been holding Tighten Up! there on the last Friday of every month forever.

One of the newer dance nights at Lith Hall is called Save Your Soul. It's held on the first Friday of every month, with '50s and early '60s music from the local DJ collective Charm City Summit.

If you want to get a parking spot near Lith Hall, you have to get there at 10 p.m. If you've never been before, you'll be required to buy a yearly membership (since Lith Hall is technically a private club), which costs $5, and then pay $5 to get in.

Lith Hall will be practically deserted until 11 p.m., when a stream of hipsters, art students and dance maniacs will pour in ...

Last Friday, we were sitting at the bar when John Waters walked in and grabbed a bar stool near me. How cool is that? He's pushing 65, and splits his time between Baltimore and New York, but Waters still knows where to party.

DJs Pietro, Action Pat and King Gilbert were spinning obscure '50s and early '60s vinyl. I'm talking about stuff like Otis Redding's "Shout Bamalama," The Nobleman's "Dragon Walk," Elmore James' "Stranger Blues," Gene & the Jeanette's "Hey Lover" and King Coleman's "Down in the Basement."

Whew. Just hearing those tunes makes me sweat. When you get parched, you can moisten up with a few big bottles of Lithuanian beer, which costs $3.50. Since it's a private clubs, all the drinks are cheap cheap cheap.

By midnight, the dance floor was chock full of kids, grooving old school style. And there was Waters, holding court from his bar stool in the thick of it. I felt like I was part of something special, one of those rare scenes I'll tell my children about some day.

(The imposing outer facade of Lithuanian Hall scares away everyone except the fearless. the fearless come to dance. Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:40 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I feel like hijacking your comments section for two, slightly off-topic things:

1. If you're going to the Lith Hall for dancing and drinks, why not hit up Baltimore Pho or Zella's Pizza right around the corner for some grub first?

2. One of my favorite John Waters stories. My best friend was photographing him at his house for a magazine story. He was showing off some of the weird stuff he has in his office, when he pulled out a small wooden box full of pills. Pointing to two almost metalic looking pills, he said, "These here cost me $200 a pop." Playing along, of course she asked if they were any good. He replied that he hadn't tried them yet because he was waiting until the right time, as they would, "turn my sh** f'ing GOLD!"

So if you were ever wondering what a Baltimore weirdo with more money than you'll ever see likes to do for fun...well, he poops gold

The time is now, John. Take the pills.

my friend turned me onto zellas, and i was susprised to find out they delivered all the way up in mt. vernon. really good stuff.

re: lith hall, i went there last month for the first time and instantly loved the place. i plan on heading there the first rainy saturday there is, and slingin back cheap beers with the regulars.

Haven't been to Lithuanian Hall in forever, but good times for sure. I'm too old for that on any kind of regular basis, but then again there's Mr. Waters who has a few years on me. Good on 'im.
[But, Sam - you mentioned hipsters, haven't you forgotten the obligatory comment on how bad they smell? (Just kidding, and I'll take the opportunity to sincerely apologize for a drunken, idiotic comment on the subject long ago. Not that you'd remember, but now I feel a bit better.)]

Meh, this place used to be ok, I suppose, but it's been taken over by (just as you say) MICA students and other hipsters. When it was relatively unknown (save for folks who weren't there to get scene points) and you could actually walk to the bathroom without having to say 'excuse me' 8,000 times and/or push or get pushed, then it was fun. But that was a long time ago, and I guess there's always some jerk that's got to say "it was better/cooler back in the day..." This time, that jerk is me.

He loves The Sidebar, as well!!!!!!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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