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The view from Soul Tree’s balcony allows partygoers to keep an eye on its dance floor.

The view from Soul Tree’s balcony allows partygoers to keep an eye on its dance floor. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

The view from Soul Tree’s balcony allows partygoers to keep an eye on its dance floor.

The view from Soul Tree’s balcony allows partygoers to keep an eye on its dance floor. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Soul Tree in Cambridge plays a mix of hip-hop, R&B, funk, reggae, and soul music.

Soul Tree in Cambridge plays a mix of hip-hop, R&B, funk, reggae, and soul music. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

CAMBRIDGE — In a city full of bars and clubs that often pump pulsating dance beats into the ears of partygoers, the Soul Tree’s playlist can be sort of a sanctuary.

It’s perhaps the only venue in this academic city that actually plays hip-hop music on a regular basis.

Although its customer flow can vary from jam-packed to an empty dance floor, the club’s music usually includes a mixture of hip-hop, R&B, funk, reggae, and of course, soul.

“We focus ourselves on the music,” said Andy Clark, the marketing and branding manager of La Raza Ltd., the club’s owner.

Clark said he often sees Americans flocking to the club, especially on Friday nights. That’s when resident DJ Joe2Grand spins a raft of hip-hop tracks, more popular in the States than in this country.

The club also doesn’t have a dress code, which allows partygoers to let loose and enjoy themselves.

“It’s more of a laid-back environment,” he said.

One of the club’s best parts is a balcony that gives partygoers a view of the dance floor. This is perhaps the first place to go after arriving.

The balcony, made out of clear-glass railings, surrounds the dance floor and allows you to watch everyone get down — or at least try. Some nights, this can be a humorous sight. Also, the balcony gives you the option to check out any clubbers that may have caught your eye.

On the same floor as the balcony is plenty of seating on leather sofas and a bar. There is also a huge sign that lights up into a palette of flickering colors, presumably matching each song played.

The atmosphere upstairs is a bit more relaxed. Downstairs, partygoers tend to flock to the dance floor, in front of a small stage.

Occasionally the club hosts live bands. Other nights, clubbers — usually intoxicated and full of themselves — hold impromptu dance-off competitions. This usually includes break dancing, some friendly trash talk and a small group watching on.

To the other side of the dance floor is another bar. If the wait at this bar is too long, then head to the upstairs bar; it tends to see fewer customers.

For a change of scenery, venture up some more stairs to the club’s penthouse. The penthouse, which usually plays different music than the club’s main area, is a room with a collection of sofas, a small bar and another dance floor.

The penthouse is frequently closed for private parties. It costs 200 pounds to rent it out for a party of up to 100 people.

See previous After Hours reviews here.

Location: 1-6 Guildhall Chambers, Corn Exchange St., Cambridge CB2 3QF. It’s next to the Corn Exchange theater and the Grand Arcade parking lot, which has plenty of parking spaces.

Drinks: Standard mixed drinks and beers cost 3.50 pounds.

Food: None, but the Cambridge Waffle Company is in the same building.

Entertainment: DJs play a mixture of hip-hop, R&B, funk, soul, reggae and dance music. Live bands perform about once a month.

Cover: From 2 to 8 pounds, depending on the night.

Hours: Open until 3 a.m.

Clientele: Students to young adults. Live music events can draw in older clients.

Web site:www.soultree.co.uk


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