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Inside Cloak+Daggar and Smoke+Mirrors, two of Tampa Bay's most unique party nights

A long, dark room, filled with dense fog, illuminated only by sparse red lights. Angular, bass-heavy dance music emanating from a hallway leading to the back. Sharply dressed 20- and 30-somethings wearing all black, sipping Champagne and exotic cocktails with mysterious names: "The Cloak" and "The Dagger."

It's a scene you might expect in an über-hip underground club in Paris, New York or Berlin. In reality, it's a local monthly event called Cloak+Dagger, the brainchild of DJ, designer and promoter Elias Théroux. The party — held on the first Tuesday of each month — takes place at the Bends, a downtown St. Pete hotspot that's virtually unrecognizable once Théroux and company take over. A sister party called Smoke+Mirrors has branched off from the original, taking place every Thursday night at Anise Global Gastrobar in downtown Tampa.

"I'm trying to facilitate a new kind of partying experience for people in the Tampa Bay area," Théroux said.

The music matches the aesthetic. It's forward-thinking, slick and maybe a little dark. Chopped-up, indecipherable vocal samples stab between piano chords and a thumping bass drum. Crisp high-hats form a syncopated pattern over a shoegaze-esque wave of sound. It's sexy, challenging, and futuristic. No one is playing top-40 crowd-pleasers. And somehow, it works.

For more on Smoke+Mirrors and Cloak+Daggar -- which celebrates its first anniversary with a party on Saturday at the Bends -- click here for Justin Grant's story.

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