Underground house-music clubs aren’t just party palaces; they can serve as “sacred spaces” for people who don’t fit in or feel welcome at other venues.

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AT THE ROVING, weekly party known as Love City Love, a few dozen head-bobbing, finger-snapping patrons gather around the R&B singer and spoken-word artist Olisa Enrico as she leads them in a stirring song about connection and self-exploration.

“You gotta dig a little bit deeper,” Enrico croons, working her way freestyle around an improvised melody played by a funky, jazzy quartet — she’s Billie Holiday for the hip-hop generation.

Enrico, part performer, part conjurer, invites the crowd to join in, and soon the whole blue-and-red-lit space, a former Azteca Mexican restaurant in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood that was awaiting demolition, takes on the syncopated frenzy of a back-street juke joint.

People in the crowd, some toting their own horns, spontaneously join the band’s brass section or step forward to wail a few jazzy bars alongside Enrico. One audience member takes center stage and spits a couple minutes worth of conscious-brother rhymes off the top of his head, then melts back into the circle of spectators like an apparition.

But Love City Love is real and it is electric, a living, breathing thing that fogs up the restaurant’s arched windows and leaves everyone inside bouncing, shouting and clapping like church ladies.

The all-ages jam session, spoken-word and art showcase, which costs $5 and serves only healthy juices and water, exists between the old, funky Seattle of cheap thrills and dingy clubs and a new, more polished and more expensive Seattle — a throwback to the good ol’ days in the fast-morphing cityscape.

Underground culture takes many forms and pops up in all sorts of places. There are regular club sessions and open-mike nights but also raves in drafty warehouses, under bridges and, in the case of the monthly, family-friendly DreamDance parties, at a yoga and dance studio. There are members-only societies as well as down-low foodie events and live shows whose locations aren’t revealed until you’ve bought a ticket. Sisters Kristen and Carrie Watt, for example, have hosted their Seattle Secret Shows indie-band concerts — where the tempting motto is “Are you on the list?” — everywhere from living rooms to a corporate office in a downtown skyscraper.

By the time you read this sentence, LCL’s nomadic crew of culture creators will have packed up the telltale “L-O-V-E” sign letters that beckon in-the-know revelers to its Wednesday-night parties and high-stepped to a new rented space.

The venue might be constantly changing but LCL’s ethos remains the same. The event depends heavily on — indeed can’t function without — passionate participation from guests willing to break past their inhibitions and raise the roof together.

“For that first half an hour, everyone is shaking off that casing they have around themselves all day,” LCL event co-organizer Jessica Carter says over Enrico’s siren song.

But then, longtime LCL fan Adrien Miller says, “There comes a time in all of these sessions when everyone loses themselves.”

LCL has been hosting pop-up events since 2012. Co-organizer, artist, photographer and skateboarder Lucien Pellegrin, a kinetic 30-year-old with a Pied Piper magnetism, doesn’t mince words when discussing how Seattle’s rising cost of living and gentrification make the group’s events so necessary.

“It’s cool what’s happening in the city, but how do we have more balance?” Pellegrin asks over coffee with fellow organizer and underground hip-hop/soul artist Amos Miller.

Pellegrin says Seattle’s nightlife scene seemed to be catering more and more to expensive barhopping and “alcohol consumerism” at the exclusion of what he calls “healthy nightlife alternatives.”

Unabashed idealists, Pellegrin and Miller want Love City Love’s events to be accessible to all, especially to what they see as a marginalized but culture-hungry youth community, events where affordability isn’t an issue and where showcasing underexposed talent is a major goal.

“It’s all about sharing, and it’s all about celebrating what makes a cool city,” Pellegrin says. “There’s so many people who make a city cool, but often it’s the fringe community and the working-class who that add that extra touch and give a city that ‘it’ factor.”

“NOT EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS house music. It’s a spiritual thing. A body thing. A soul thing.” Eddie Amador penned those famous lines for his pulsating 1998 club anthem “House Music.”

House draws heavily from disco, funk, spoken word, 1980s R&B and organ-heavy gospel, with relentless four-to-the-floor drum beats, slinky synthesizers and, quite often, uplifting vocals urging love, understanding and hope against all odds. The music is both minimal and maximal, robotic and raw. It’s music you put your hands, feet and butt into. It will make you sweat profusely and not even care.

Just as EDM, or electronic dance music, has taken off as a pop phenomenon, there’s been a revival in the gritty, old-school club genres that make up EDM, such as techno, trance, drum-and-bass, dubstep and, most notably, house.

On any week of the year, some of Seattle’s best clubs, from the uber-eclectic Kremwerk and Lo-Fi Performance Gallery in South Lake Union to busy Capitol Hill venues like the Baltic Room and Chop Suey to the thumping, sweaty upstairs club Monkey Loft in industrial Sodo, host parties that feature underground music.

One of Seattle’s most off-the-radar DJ events is the Train Car House Party, so called because it takes place every last Saturday of the month inside a labyrinthine network of actual vintage train cars at the Orient Express Chinese restaurant, on a lonely stretch of Fourth Avenue South.

In a curtained, carpeted, luggage-rack-lined carriage, strangers on a train dance to a lineup of DJs that isn’t posted until the last minute.

The free party has been running for three years, and somehow DJs Erin O’Connor-Drew, Patrick Hernandez and Bryan Jarr, with an assist from Christina Wright, keep things as casual as a backyard barbecue, with a deliriously friendly, straight-and-gay crowd.

O’Connor-Drew, a stenographer and mother of two, says she was initially unsure about the idea of a house-music party way down in Sodo’s no-man’s land. Legend has it that FDR conducted a whistle-stop tour from the balcony of the car next door to the house-party carriage. The whole aging complex feels like it’s teeming with ghosts. But fittingly, the party she and her crew throws there is so raucous it could raise the dead.

Like O’Connor-Drew, the always wildly attired promoter known as Anton Bomb was weaned on the underground rave culture of the 1990s. As both an underground fan and organizer, he’s determined to keep that scene alive, at least its emphasis on quality music and openness.

Anton grew up in Little Rock, Ark., working for a time at an underground gay club there. By the mid-1990s he’d migrated to San Francisco, immersing himself in that city’s underground scene. But on a visit to Seattle in late 1995, he attended a rave headlined by legendary local DJ Donald Glaude, met some of the friendly locals and fell in love with the city’s laid-back, bohemian vibe.

“There’s a magic in Seattle that is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been,” the 41-year-old says.

At the same time, he says, “I feel like there’s this weird juxtaposition happening in Seattle. There’s gentrification going on, but I see the music community being healthier than it’s ever been. There are so many little pockets and amazing crews. There’s this underlying tenacity.”

He’s still concerned about the social impact of Seattle’s transformation. Capitol Hill, a once-bohemian, now-gentrifying neighborhood, has started to attract partygoers who don’t necessarily appreciate the area’s famously LGBT-friendly, artsy atmosphere.

The flyer for a house-music party that Anton MC’d in the Capitol Hill attic space that until last year hosted the beloved Electric Tea Garden club took an explicit stand against closed minds and bad behavior.

“This is a safe place for respectful adults,” the flyer read. “No Racists. No Sexists. No Homophobes. No Hecklers. No Drunkies. No Junkies. No gropers. No thieves. No one who’s a danger to themselves or others.”

To Anton’s thinking, underground house-music clubs aren’t just party palaces; they can serve as “sacred spaces” for people who don’t fit in or feel welcome at other venues.

“It sounds cheesy and cliché but this music brings people together,” he says.

At the recent DJ party he helped put on at the old Electric Tea Garden, the crowd is a blissed-out mix of gays, straights, hipsters, skaters, artists, costumed Burning Man regulars and clean-cut office workers.

Capitol Hill might be bulldozing its way toward a more polished future, but on the cramped dance floor, which will still be throbbing the next morning as worshippers gather for Sunday services at a neighboring church, hands thrust joyfully to the ceiling seem to hold back the winds of change.

When house-music fans use the expression, “See you at church,” they’re not referring to a traditional place of worship, but a club known for great house music.

The granddaddy of house-music parties in Seattle is the Sunday-night church service known as Flammable, held at the standard-bearer among both the city’s underground dance clubs and fringe-performance venues, Re-bar.

Located on Howell Street along one of the last scruffy blocks in fast-developing South Lake Union, Re-bar celebrated its 25th anniversary in February. And for 20 of those years, original Flammable resident DJs Brian Lyons and Wesley Holmes, along with residents Eric Allen, Karl Kamakahi and Xan Lucero and a top-notch roster of invited guests, have delivered reliably hip-shaking house for devotees who can’t stand to see the weekend come to a close.

At Flammable’s anniversary-week party, the club is packed, the dance floor dimly lit. Dancers young and not-so-young get down like extras on “Soul Train” as San Francisco’s DJ Jeno spins under a hanging red light that swings wildly every time someone smacks it to show approval. This is underground clubbing stripped to its essence.

Veteran Seattle promoter, DJ and Re-bar business partner Michael Manahan, a regular at underground venues and festivals, says the club is so vital to the city’s cultural life that he and other supporters are lobbying the city for historic landmark status.

Gentrification is knocking on Re-bar’s door, too. Tilt49, a 40-story residential tower and 11-story office building, is going up steps from the entrance to the club’s low-slung, rented space, and around the corner from the basement club Kremwerk.

Without legal protections, “the days are numbered” for Re-bar’s longtime home, Manahan says. “For us to be part of the (development) process we need to get landmark status, so that we can grow with the city and not just be a faded memory.”

HERITAGE ALSO IS on the minds of the close-knit group of 30-somethings who opened the literary society Purlieu Hall in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood a year and a half ago.

Set in the network of below-surface-grade storefronts that made up the original Pioneer Square area before wily turn-of-the-century urban planners built the streetscape we see today on top of it, the unmarked, members-only club is underground in both senses.

The previous occupant was beloved Bud’s Jazz Records, which shuttered in 2008. Shoppers could always count on jazz playing on the speaker system as they browsed for music.

The Purlieu Hall co-founder who goes by the nom de plume Elias Cotez used to shop there himself.

During one visit to the club, Cotez, a dapper, 31-year-old man about town who favors vintage threads and wide-brimmed hats, spun vinyl jazz records to set a noirish, nostalgic mood in the book- and antique-filled series of parlors.

Cotez says Purlieu Hall’s evocative, enchanted atmosphere is not an attempt at cheeky historical appropriation but a sincere homage to and continuation of Seattle’s literary, artistic and intellectual legacy.

“We are the burial site of irony,” Cotez says proudly.

The club, a lamp-lit cultural speak-easy with a no-social-media policy and no Wi-Fi, is also a celebration of the idea that simply hanging out, in person, with other thoughtful people can lead the creative mind to great heights.

When it’s open Wednesday through Friday night, members, known as “fellows,” along with invited guests, chat about everything from books to music to philosophy to films until the wee hours.

Club co-founder Andrew Johnson, a merchant marine by profession, showed a series of “devastating postwar Italian dramas” recently.

“Where else are you going to get that?” he says with a smile.

Cotez, a poet, says the club also functions as a writers studio, “a time away from time” that’s sheltered from outside distractions yet piped in to a wellspring of creative energy that goes back generations.

“I think we have this sort of longing in Seattle to touch roots,” he says. “It feels really good to be here and to be searching for things that are lasting.”

Culture and connectedness keep us grounded even in a time of transition.

At Morning Star Café, an underground brunch party thrown by local DJ and pop-up restaurateur Tarik Abdullah, the connection is twofold.

Every month or so, the 41-year-old and his team of guest cooks take over a restaurant’s kitchen in South Seattle and mix up African-inspired breakfast ingredients the way a DJ mixes records. Pancakes might be coriander-spiced with star anise apple compote and rose syrup drizzled on top. The biscuits might come with Syrian-spiced lamb gravy.

Each event, usually announced only days in advance, will also feature a different local music act or DJ doing everything from loungey R&B to fiddle tunes.

Abdullah, a recent contestant on ABC’s cooking show “The Taste,” says he’s inspired by childhood memories of his parents playing music while cooking.

At the Morning Star Café in March, Huarachito’s Mexican restaurant in Rainier Valley buzzes with conversations among a diverse crowd of friends, relatives and total strangers.

“What a great way to bring people together — through food and music,” Abdullah says. “It’s a beautiful marriage.”

In reaching back to touch his own roots, Abdullah keeps us rooted to each other, but also to an alternate world that flourishes just beneath Seattle’s surface.