Downtown Abbey: Falling for oldies-but-goodies at Heatwave

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I don’t know how I missed out on one of the best dance parties in Columbus for so long, but I won’t be making that mistake again.

Armed with an all-vinyl playlist of ’60s soul, Motown and garage-rock favorites, Heatwave has been filling Ace of Cups since 2011. Favoring vinyl records over throbbing bass, the “sock-hop-on-steroids” soiree proved a good time never goes out of style.

It was only 11:30, but there was already a line of party-goers waiting outside Ace of Cups. Despite the early hour, the spacious club was at capacity. Original Heatwave co-founder DJ Ann was making her first appearance at the party since 2013, and Columbus came out in full force for the retro-prom-themed event.

By the time we made it in, the venue was teeming with frilly taffeta dresses, tiaras and three-piece suits. Despite the sizable crowd, getting a drink was virtually painless, as most people were twisting on the dance floor instead of sulking by the bar. Even the bar staff was bopping along to Tina Turner’s cover of “Proud Mary.”

I was admittedly skeptical at first: In 2015 the concept of a theme party is almost as trite as cliché themes themselves; everything has been done — including retro proms. The success hinges on the crowd’s participation, the creativity of those throwing the party and the overall atmosphere of the event itself. Heatwave’s unpretentious “dress-up-or-don’t” vibe made the “prom” motif feel fresh, without leaving out revelers donning street clothes.

By 1:30 the air was sticking to my skin. People were peeling off clothing and throwing it along the wall. The crowd’s collective body heat hung over the bar in a damp cloud and the vague smell of body sweat was becoming more pronounced — not that anyone cared. The crowd seemed determined to soldier on into the night no matter what.

Heatwave is a testament to the staying-power of great music. The “leave your drama at the door” atmosphere coupled with a playlist you can’t help but dance to converted me. Heatwave: 1 Abernathy: 0.

Downtown Abbey is a nightlife column that covers everything from drag shows to magic shows, the club scene to fetish parties. It runs every other week.