All in la Familia at Azteca's Bar and Grill
It's a scientific fact that old white people love "Mustang Sally," claims Rich Latimer, of Houston's conveniently named Rich Latimer Band.
"It's a party song — people know it," says Latimer, whose band touches down at Azteca's Bar and Grill (2207 Richmond) when not outside the Loop at Outrigger's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar in Seabrook, Q's Sports Bar & Grill in Katy, or Papas on the Lake in Conroe. Latimer ought to know — his oldies/R&B cover band has probably played "Mustang Sally" hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
"Everybody grew up around a version of it, like 'Brick House' or 'Play That Funky Music,'" Latimer says. "It's just fun to dance to."
To the bare dance floor at Azteca's, Sir Mack Rice's 1965 hit — recorded by Wilson Pickett, Buddy Guy and Los Lobos, among others — serves as the equivalent of the Pied Piper's flute, magically drawing out what's left of a late-Friday-evening crowd.
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Usually around the time the bar-and-grill-downstairs part of Azteca's begins to empty out, its upstairs dance club starts to fill up. Not tonight, though, as employee William Martinez has rented out the club for his birthday party.
"I have my parties here every year," says the clearly unbiased Martinez, who's been on Azteca's payroll about three years. "It's a bad-ass atmosphere, and they have cheap drinks and good food."
Typically, most Thursday-through-Saturday evenings offer plenty of potential dance partners, as babyfaced bartender (and the owner's son) Oscar Visoso serves up his special potent drink to thick crowds of predominantly Hispanics in their twenties.
There's no official name for Oscar's drink — honestly, "Get You Laid" seems to work just fine — a Courvoisier, pineapple and Malibu mixture. "It's good because it's fruity, so the girls like it, and the Courvoisier in it sneaks up on 'em," he explains. "Makes 'em feel nice and friendly."
(Here, clearly, "nice and friendly" is shorthand for "clearheaded and capable of making sound, objective decisions.")
The first floor of Azteca's is an award-winning Mexican restaurant (Houston Press readers have voted it both Best Margaritas and Best Karaoke). The second floor, run in part by Interscope Records rap/reggaetón artist Vicious, is home to the dance club Azteca's V.I.P. Depending on which Friday night of the month it is, various DJs — either Caribbean, hip-hop or reggaetón/Spanish techno/Top 40 — cycle through.
Azteca's drinks are moderately priced (Starburst, $8), and at least once every weekend the club offers live music, usually rock en español or cover bands. Aesthetically, though, it's less than great. The makeshift lounge seating is more comfortable than attractive, while a not-at-all-tacky waterwall, a couple of baby palm trees and a lone ominous/auspicious stripper pole round out the décor.
This stripper pole was one of the many renovations required when the former pizzeria became Azteca's seven years ago. Owner (and father of the year) Juan Visoso had a simple reason for opening his establishment.
"My sons wanted to be in entertainment: DJ, promote parties, those kinds of things," he says. "I opened this place to cater to my sons, so they wouldn't have to chase someone to let them work."
Man, our dad flipped his shit when we asked him for the Nintendo Power Glove. Attention, Visoso boys: Father's Day is June 15.
Originally planning to open in Clear Lake, Juan Visoso chose the two-story Richmond location when negotiations with the Nasa Parkway venue fell through. For Azteca's regulars like Waste Management accountant Javier Mata, the venue's two-story layout is a plus; the stairwell serves as a barrier between those cutting a rug and those cutting an enchilada. (God, that's lame.)
For Juan Visoso, however, the decision to turn his onetime storage area into a separate dance club has proven to be slightly more problematic.
"It's very inconvenient for me because by law, since the second floor they consider a second business," he says. "It's kinda messed up, really. [We pay more taxes] and not only that, we gotta have different permits too.
"It takes money, but it's worked out," Visoso concludes. "My family is here now."
This just in: Guys go out at night to hit on women. Groundbreaking, we know. This week Nightfly reached out to dating coach Sean Messenger (www.seanmessenger.com) for three tips on how to meet women. These came free of charge — most people pay $68.95 a month for the privilege.
1. Hold eye contact and remember, look but don't stare. Think more Joseph Fienes in Shakespeare in Love, less T-1000 from Terminator 2.
2. Let her see you treat people with respect. Except, of course, people who live inside the Loop. God, they're smug.
3. Be confident but not cocky, unless you're really good-looking. Then do whatever the hell you want.
Try Messenger's tips during Ladies' Night at these spots: Drink Houston (7620 Katy Fwy.; Thursdays) — any club you can see from the freeway is guaranteed to be classy; Blur Bar (710 Pacific; Wednesdays) — sexual orientation, shmexual orientation. This gay/straight bar automatically doubles your chances for success; Rumba Club (11030 Kingspoint; Thursdays-Saturdays) — spins a lot of salsa, merengue and Dominican bachata. Try this as an icebreaker: "Hello. I see you're listening to salsa music. Care to make out?" Perfect.
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