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UK weekly edition, Wednesday, May 2, 2007

CAMBRIDGE — Every once in a while on a weekend excursion, there comes a moment when time suddenly slows down, the clouds of inebriation part and you form this thought with painful, acute clarity: Oh my god, this woman is trying to kiss me.

There have been perhaps 10 minutes of congenial conversation with the portly, long-haired 30-something in the low-cut clubbing shirt, shouted over the music. And then somehow, out of the flashing lights of Club 22, it emerges — The Lean-In.

Her neck cranes. Her eyes droop, and you can see with terrible lucidity every detail of her jowls as she stretches toward you, lips slightly apart. The choices are clear: allow inevitability to take its course or counter the offensive with the harsh, but effective, Cheek Turn.

Such moments can be rare for clubgoers out on the town for a night, but a good place to run into them is TwentyTwo The Nightclub, the deuce-deuce, known to locals as Club 22, a basement disco in Cambridge’s downtown core.

Intended to be a late-night haven for the city’s over-25 crowd, it can be a welcome change from many of the other clubs in the city, where university freshmen and house beats rule.

Instead of heavy, thundering techno mixes, the DJs in Club 22 frequently mix a selection of house party standards into their set list, pumping out favorites such as Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” and the occasional Notorious B.I.G. throwback.

Situated in one long, rectangular room, Club 22 has a central, oval-shaped dance floor abutting the DJ’s island, about midway between the club’s two bars. At any point past midnight, the floor is generally overflowing with dancers of all ages and persuasions, happy to have a cut of “Billie Jean” to dance along with. Though it tends to attract a slightly older clientele, the only age group generally underrepresented is the 18-22 set, who have no shortage of other late-night options in the city, and it doesn’t truly have the feel of an over-30-only venue.

That said, however, Club 22 could easily be described as a “singles bar,” where clubgoers often seem to be actively looking for dating possibilities in an atmosphere that can range from enticing to desperate. It makes meeting people relatively easy, but is a formula that can, at times, backfire.

For instance, you might occasionally find yourself hiding — literally hiding — among a group of strangers near the men’s room while an amorous blonde from out of town hunts you like a battleship on a mission to acquire and subdue. Feeling safe, you eventually emerge and wander into the throng next to the dance floor, only to find her in front of you, out of nowhere, saying something inaudible and drawing you in like the Death Star.

And then here it comes, unavoidable this time because she has you by the lapels, and lands it on you, mercifully brief but uncomfortably intimate, and runs a finger across your cheek before she turns to leave, wading through the crowd. It’s a puzzling moment, but it passes quickly, and it isn’t even midnight yet.

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