Same As It Never Was

A former Nightfly wanders north downtown Houston one last time

 Editor's note: The Nightfly column is undergoing a bit of a face-lift. As befits any true fly, we have decided to adopt a "compound eye" approach: Starting now, the central Nightfly will receive reports from several rotating agents, each of whom will don the cape of the Nightfly before hitting the streets. This week's column gives a seasoned agent a chance to provide his unique perspective on the changing face of Houston nightlife. -- Scott Faingold

Hi, kids, remember me?

From 2000 to 2003, it was my job to canvass the streets of Houston at its darkest hours, looking for the most exemplary places to provide me with great drinks, fine ambience and stimulating conversation. Anyone who read my columns back then will remember I had a bitch of a time doing this, especially as I often ventured to that brutally trendy part of town known as north downtown Houston (or NoDo, for all you Envy/002/PaperCity readers).

NoDo: You either hate it or slightly tolerate it.
Daniel Kramer
NoDo: You either hate it or slightly tolerate it.

I've been gone for quite a while now. (I've become a reputable member of the daily-newspaper establishment up in North Carolina -- can you believe that shit!?) But, as I recently was back down here for a time, I took a chance and spent one Saturday night in NoDo to see how things have progressed since I gave up the nightlife beat.

It all began when I visited the Alden Hotel (1117 Prairie) and its fancy-schmancy lounge, a+, to see one of my good friends (and one of the few Houston DJs who doesn't think I'm an asshole), Gracie Chavez Cardenas. I had on one of those George Foreman suits I recently bought to give the impression I was dapper. As Gracie was in the back, spinning her little housed-up heart out, I was trying to get toasted on the lounge's expensive, not-so-potent drinks. Candace, this gorgeous sista sitting at the bar, was drinking a vodka and pineapple juice; I proceeded to down two. Still no buzz.

Candace was nice and quite open to conversation. Sadly, she was with some big-time sports-agent cat named Aaron, who was out in the lobby schmoozing with some folks while this tall glass of goddamn was left all alone at the bar. (He must be on that stuff!) He eventually finished schmoozing and headed back to the bar, where he immediately began putting his arms around Candace and jokingly asking me what I was doing pushing up on his woman, something Candace hardly believed herself. After that, Aaron scooped up Candace, and they headed over to The Mercury Room (1008 Prairie). Bye-bye, Candace. We could've had something, baby!

I spent a few more moments at a+, guzzling a Bloody Mary (I finally got a little buzz) before I decided to head out and see what else was going on in the neighborhood my damn self. As I hit the pavement and looked around, there was one thing I just couldn't help wondering: Where did all these black people come from? Did Coco Loco (3700 Hillcroft) finally shut down or something? As I walked down Prairie, I saw that young black folk were all over Mercury, Boaka Bar (1010 Prairie) and Suede (1000 Prairie). This was amazing to me, since back when I was Nightflying, I was often the only black person in a five-block radius. According to some of my former inside contacts, the original owners of Mercury and Boaka sold the club over to some black investors, who have turned the joints into the spot for urban (read: Hennessy-chugging) clubgoers. I'm glad to see the Richmond-Westheimer crowd has finally infiltrated NoDo.

I walked down another crowded block of Prairie and made my way toward Frank's Pizza (417 Travis), always a fun place to see drunk people gorge on pies. And boy, was I in for a treat! After a brief washup in the restroom, a traveling bachelorette party (or "bachelorette caravan," as I like to call them) entered Frank's, creating quite the ruckus. As always, the gal who was stirring the most noise was the bride, a tall, drunk-as-fuck gal named Deann who had tighty-whities over her jeans with the words "Whistle If You Want to Blow It" on the back.

"You wanna blow my whistle?" she asked, while I ordered a large supreme slice. As she reached between her legs to grab a dangling whistle, she realized it was gone and started to panic. But she quickly calmed down when she found that her mother had it. She connected it back to her drawers and proceeded to ask the other brothas if they wanted to blow it. Now, this is what I miss about Houston nightlife: hammered white women approaching black men, whom they probably would be afraid to speak to in broad daylight, and asking them to do some silly shit. Oh, the joys of alcohol!

After I finished my slice, I approached Deann, who was straight-up caveman-ravaging her lone slice, and told her she owed me a whistle. Without hesitation, she hopped up on her chair and made me reach for that whistle. "Now, you better really blow," she told me -- words I thought I would never hear until my inevitable stay in a Mexican prison. Anyway, I blew. She got rowdy. The employees ate it up. On my way out, I helped her off the chair before she could fall and bust her ass.

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