Walking into Dirt Bar Saturday night after the Mötley Crüe's farewell tour show, I was struck with the feeling that I'd wandered into an awesomely decadent corner of the Twilight Zone, where rock stars, people who looked like rock stars, and people who looked like they might be famous for other reasons were gathered to drink and mingle. The Dirt Bar and Junker Designs were hosting the official Mötley Crüe afterparty, and the place was packed with people who'd come out to celebrate in style.
"I don't think I'm cool enough to be here," I thought to myself, but while "cool" was in high abundance, elitist attitudes seemed to be scarce. "Black Betty" by Ram Jam was playing as I walked in, which I took to be a fortuitous sign that I was in for a fun time.
Noticing a group of friends huddled around the far end of the large central bar, I gravitated over to them. The bar was at capacity, and it took several minutes to shift my way over towards them. Usually, when a place is that crowded it's off-putting to me, but there's something about The Dirt that negated any feelings of discomfort or claustrophobia. After greeting my friends, I saw that a VIP area was tucked into one corner and occupied by several members of Alice Cooper's band, who all seemed to be having a great time. They were in their element; The Dirt seems like the kind of place where rock stars belong, a strange oasis of the rock and roll lifestyle nestled in downtown Houston. They'd played an inspired set of Cooper's hits earlier in the evening, and seemed to be enjoying some post-show relaxing and socializing.
I'd heard the bar was pretty special, but experiencing it myself I suddenly understood why. This is the type of place where plans for world domination are hatched, where one might meet their next band member or party-partner in crime. I could have bumped into Hunter S. Thompson nursing a Wild Turkey at the bar, and it wouldn't have surprised me much, despite his death ten years ago. The party was channeling the kind of manic energy that might stir the good doctor's ghost, like anexus of rock and roll and the extreme fashion design that Houston native Tod Waters has elevated to wearable art.
"This place has the best drinks in town," I head a woman who looked like she'd walked out of a Crüe-themed fetish photo shoot say. I don't know if she was part of the band's actual entourage or not, but she definitely looked like she should be.
A large flatscreen above the bar was playing a video that showed Tod Waters on some recent television appearance, but it was just for show. A T-Rex tune had filled the room, making hearing the video impossible.
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I spotted the man behind the event, and wandered over to say hello. Tod has been outfitting rock stars for years, and seems to have an especially close bond with Mötley Crüe, so it made sense that his clothing company, Junker Designs, sponsored the afterparty. Tod was wearing one of his custom leather jackets, and I was amazed at the thing — it's no wonder his work is in such high demand. The Dirt was a great location for the party, because its energy and atmosphere is a perfect match for Tod's clothing and the Crüe's unique brand of rock and roll.
After spending some time soaking up the afterparty's infectious energy, I winded back through through the bar, and spilled out onto the street outside. Rock and roll is clearly alive and well, and even if Mötley Crüe is really retiring as a band after this tour, Tod Waters and Junker Designs gave them a great sendoff, and The Dirt Bar was the place to be Saturday night.
Watch for a review of Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper's Toyota Center show Tuesday morning.