You hit the "scan" button on your car radio and the machinery runs through the menu.
You want something tasty, something new and different, but all you find is "ear pizza." I mean, it's good and you like it, but you don't want it all the time!
Instead of giving up, the scanner winds back around to the low numbers at the beginning of the FM dial and pauses on 88.3.
Wait a tick. Here's something, you think, as you give it a chance.
Well, that's the scenario if you're behind the curve. All the cool kids know about WRCT-FM, the radio station run by volunteer students, staff and faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.
And tonight they're all headed to the station's annual Spring Dance Party at Shadow Lounge on Baum Boulevard in East Liberty.
You don't have to be a student to attend. All you need is $5 and an appreciation of today's best dance music.
According to the station's website, WRCT has been putting the needle on the records since 1949, when it was started "as a project by a group of engineering students and professors who had an interest in radio broadcasting." (The call letters stand for Radio Carnegie Tech.) The station's signal was able to reach all the way around the campus.
Just as with the music it plays, the station has changed. It's gone from AM to FM. It's online. The DJs play "alternatives to the mainstream commercial programming." And they've got their watts up. Today, the station can be heard 15 miles from campus!
For Eden Weingart, the station's PR director, these are points of pride. And the spring party is the perfect place to showcase what the station provides.
"We have a lot of DJs who play a lot of great music on the airwaves," said Ms. Weingart, a 20-year-old junior studying communication design at CMU. "Normally, people just get to hear them play on the radio. Tonight, everyone can see them do a live set and dance and have a good time."
There will be eight DJs playing in two areas of the Shadow Lounge. A-kaa$h, Alphonse, Eileen and Naeem will be playing in the Blue Room, which Ms. Weingart described as "more relaxed, low-key. It's where the bar is." Kraeji, Shrubs, Dave and Salem will be on the main stage.
The rooms are separate because this is an all-ages event. You won't be able to bounce from room to room with your drinks. You'll need a wristband to get into the Blue Room.
"Each of the DJs will be playing an hour-long set," Ms. Weingart said. "There will be house music, electronic, dub music, techno, that sort of thing. We try to get a wide variety of styles that we know people are fans of. The lineup represents what's going on at the station."
The station has been hosting parties each semester -- one in the fall and one in the spring -- for six years. The spring one gets a bit more bump because both CMU and the University of Pittsburgh are on break.
"Plus, spring is warmer and people are kind of ready to go. We need to let off steam, especially since CMU is known as having a pretty stressed-out crew," Ms. Weingart said.
"People love it and it has a reputation of being the best party of the semester. There aren't a lot of parties like this. Most parties are top 40 and they just press 'play.' They don't have a live DJ mixing the best dance music. Of course, I'm kind of biased."
Ms. Weingart, who will be splitting her time tonight between taking tickets and dancing like crazy, said the station's demographic trends to Pittsburgh's student community, but its goal -- as exemplified by events such as tonight's party -- is to widen its audience.
"The whole point is to bring the CMU community and the wider community together," she said. "There is that scene in Pittsburgh and this helps us expose it to what we're playing."
Another reason tonight's event is special is because it looks to be the last one at Shadow Lounge. The former coffee shop, which has hosted all forms of music, meetings and political rallies since opening in 2000, is moving out of its home at 5972 Baum Blvd. at the end of the month.
Club owner Justin Strong has been quoted in City Paper and online as saying the name will survive as a brand name ("Shadow Lounge presents ...") until it can reopen in a new venue in 2015. In the meantime, WRCT parties and other events will transition to Mr. Strong's Ava Lounge on Highland Avenue.
The dancing begins at 9 p.m.
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/