No one was surprised when the Old Town club Banana Joe's closed earlier this year. The club, a 15,000-square-foot tropically themed meat market, was a place where dancing on tables and OLCC troublemaking seemed like favorite pastimes.

But what could take its place? An indoor waterpark? A paintball warzone?

Of course not--it had to be another club.

Earlier this month, Banana Joe's replacement, Barracuda, was born. Though operated by different owners, a tropical theme remains. So does the aim to pack the bump-and-grind set inside the enormous space. Just as Banana Joe's weekend lines wrapped around Northwest 2nd Avenue, spilling onto Burnside, so too will Barracuda's.

Scenesters, beware: This club will never be hip. Spring-breakers, take note: This is your kind of place. There's the Golden Tee arcade game on the first floor. There are also rentable VIP rooms and cabanas, where, for a few hundred bucks, you and your friends will be "taken care of." And witness the first promotion: Maxim magazine's "Girl Search."

For the next few Thursdays, dozens of brave women will take the stage in a quest to become the next Maxim cover model. On the contest's inaugural night, the contestants took the stage, answered inane questions ("Who's the Vice President?") and then donned bikinis while dodging dollar bills thrown from the balcony above the dance floor. It'll all be over after the final contest in mid-December. Unfortunately for the Maxim wannabes, bad lighting is inescapable. From the upstairs pool hall's fluorescent glow to the dance floor's moving spotlights, the terrible illumination casts an unfortunate hue upon the skin.

There are, however, two beacons of good light at Barracuda. The first is the coat-check room. Every club should have one, though not many do. The second saving grace is an exceptionally happy bar staff. This army of men and women is perhaps the cheeriest bunch in a town full of disgruntled servers.

And, if you close your eyes, the lighting problem disappears.

Barracuda, 9 NW 2nd Ave., 228-6900. Open from 4 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 8 pm Sunday. Cover charge varies. 21+.