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Surely you've heard of Classic Numbers night at Numbers nightclub (300 Westheimer). What? You haven't?
Well, I guess most people refer to it as '80s night at Numbers. But Numbers calls it Classic Numbers night, and says it's "the original & most authentic & attended '80s night in town." I don't know why, since very little music from said decade is ever played.
I love Numbers, I do. It's deliciously decrepit and dirty. One of my favorite feelings in the world is taking a hot shower at 3 a.m. after a night at Numbers. But Classic Numbers isn't an '80s night. I know that, and still I go back week after week. I'm either hopeful or stupid, I don't know. At least I'm not alone -- my friend Caitlin is with me. We hop into my air condition-lacking, gas-guzzling ride and head eastbound from suburbia to our favorite gayborhood.
The crowd at Numbers is always...diverse. You have the leftovers from the industrial nights in all their chained, corseted, pleathered and fishnetted glory. There are the recovering ravers, although tonight, I'm glad to say, I see only one glowstick. You've also got the teens, who can be separated into two different categories: the yuppies-in-training who are too afraid to get fake IDs, and the MySpacers who don't bother.
I scope the crowd looking for familiar faces. Caitlin spots the Numbers Holy Trinity. We don't know their names, but we've honored each with endearing monikers (well, we think they're endearing): Dancing Cowboy, White Shoes and Happy Dancer. I've been watching Dancing Cowboy, always dressed in all black, since 2002. Returning favorite Happy Dancer, who looks to be in his mid-thirties, is dressed in his white T-shirt, unbuttoned red plaid shirt, jeans and worn-out sneaks. His favorite accessory always seems to be an ice-cold longneck.
The newest addition to the bunch is White Shoes, which is now something of a misnomer. He made his debut at Numbers' Danseparc night a few months back when he matched a white T-shirt tucked into above-knee shorts with a pair of all-white formal shoes. He has since adopted a pair of Chucks as his footwear of choice. Anyway, it's not the shoes that make the man; it's the dance moves. An unusually large number of female fans are consistently drawn to his robotic technique. It seems he's been experimenting, though, because lately he's been doing a new, completely down-to-the-floor move. He hasn't got it perfectly figured out, and he usually gets stuck halfway back up, but the ladies love it anyway.
They sit on the Numbers bleachers, our handsome threesome, drinking their assorted beverages, each one seemingly oblivious of the other two. Then the music starts. In a flash, all three are immediately at their spots on the dance floor and making sweet, sweet dance love to it.
DJ Wes Wallace, the mastermind behind Classic Numbers, is doing his best to keep the crowd happy. That seems to mean less '80s and more techno/trance. I don't blame him, though. I wouldn't want to get this crowd pissed off either. Being quite inexperienced when it comes to electro music, I defer to Caitlin as to what we should call it.
"Shit," she says darkly. She's just come back from dancing to the first '80s song we recognized. "They play '80s stuff and nobody dances, so then they play this shit."
I've been loath to abandon my post in the Ivory Tower (actually just my spot on the bleachers), but as soon as I hear hand-claps and Robert Smith's little gasps, I'm out on the floor. Pay attention: Everyone who steps foot into Numbers is required to dance to "Close to Me." It doesn't matter if you don't know it, if you don't like it, if you can't understand it, you have to dance. That's the rule.
Much to our delight, a Ramones song is played next. That induces the first slam-dancing circle Caitlin and I had ever seen at Numbers. But, uh-oh, it's not going well, and DJ Wes has to tell everyone to play nice. The crowd settles down and somebody pulls White Shoes up off the floor (he didn't even get halfway back up this time, poor guy), but one girl's still pissed and looking to get back at some of the slammers.
"They hit my boob," she complains. Caitlin suggests she calm down, which she does, sort of. Eventually she agrees with us that it isn't unreasonable to expect a boob slam in the midst of moshing. In fact, it might make for a pretty good battle scar.
It's almost the end of the night. I've just danced to a Joy Division song and am in the middle of something that sounds like a remixed version of "Blue Monday." I'm watching White Shoes work on his recovery (he's getting almost three-fourths of the way up now), and then it happens. I've been praying that it wouldn't, but it does. On other Friday nights, it happened before 1 a.m., so at this late hour, I figured we were safe.
But no, no one is safe from Fischerspooner's "Emerge." (Can we please, please agree that "Emerge" is over? Please?) Caitlin escapes before I can -- I'm trapped. Not an inch of the floor is empty. White Shoes is down again, I can't see him. (Didn't he learn anything from the moshing?) All I can do is stand there, not dancing, and stare at the horrific mass of grinding bodies as the now 300-plus crowd goes demented to the most overplayed song in Numbers history. (And before you start, there is no such thing as overplaying "Close to Me.")
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