I'm busted. Not ten minutes into a trip to Boys and Girls Club, the newishly relocated smash hump-day DJ night, I'm spotted jotting down observations in my trusty trade-tool notebook.
"What's the notebook for?" a young, inebriated girl wants to know.
My brain slowed by booze, wit temporarily eludes me. Instead, I'm forthright, explaining in detail the what, where and why of it all.
What? "I write a nightlife column."
Where? "For 002, Envy and 002 Envy."
Why? "Because I'm the King of Nightlife, baby. In fact, the column in 002 Envy is called, simply, Nightlife King."
Like anyone who actually earns a paycheck, her reaction isn't surprising.
"Sounds fun. I wanna do that."
So I let her. Sorta. I hand her a pen and pad with only one broad-brushed instruction: "Write down anything interesting. I'll write my story based on your notes."
The observations of the Nightfly Substitute follow, but first a little lesson plan is in order.
Boys and Girls Club is a wildly successful indie-music dance night. When Union was sold earlier this year, B&GC DJs Fred, Bobby, Damon and Jeff scouted the Montrose for a new venue that could house its loyal 400-plus attendees every Wednesday, and in March they settled on 1415 Bar & Grille (1415 California).
By all observations, the trek down the street has only strengthened the B&GC chokehold as a Wednesday-night hipster hangout. Folks dress to the nines, only to soil their fine threads with sweat while pounding their feet to an eclectic playlist where the Geto Boys share speaker space with Franz Ferdinand and everything in between -- except nü-metal. Although you come to suspect that one of the guys might play Limp Bizkit's atrocious rendition of the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" just to fuck with people.
1415 is a dream venue for the event. Its second-story balcony/deck offers stunning views of the downtown skyline. There's also ample bar space for the party monsters, and wait time for drinks is minimal -- which wasn't always so at the old Union digs. Bathroom wait time, on the other hand well, don't take it from me. Assistant Nightfly, hit me with some notes! (All spelling original.)
-beer and shot tubs
-only 2 stalls in ladies room
Oh, there's the problem. The men's room is also equipped with only two stalls, one of which is wrapped in a trash bag.
But a long line at the loo on a weeknight is a problem most club owners would gladly donate a kidney to have. What's the secret to Boys and Girls Club's success? Apart from the tip-of-the-toes surprise mix of tunes steadily feeding the beat-hungry crowd, Fred DJ and company also have done a spectacular job tying in outside events with their own. Interpol's in town? Best believe their bassist, gothic Crispin Glover look-alike Carlos D, will be at B&GC's after-party show spinning his own favorite records.
How's it going over there, Ms. Nightsub?
-dudes w/ sweatbands
-red pattington bear hats
-skinny black ties
Tonya is among the nestling Nightfly's crew of cronies. We've just been introduced. A few of them are popping their B&GC cherries tonight.
"How did you hear about Boys and Girls Club?" I ask.
I'm treated to a host of answers, none as entertaining as the next set of observations:
-guys in stupid boy scout shirts
-girls on sub-woofers
-stop throwing cherries at me asshole!
-people exchanging phone #'s and pills
-girls in stupid boy scout shirts
Back inside the lights are on, the music is still blaring, and toes are still tapping. It's inching past 2 a.m., and the dudes in the faux-hawk set are closing out their tabs. At 2:25 the speakers go silent, and Houston's finest begin pointing flashlights at the remaining revelers and herding them like cattle toward the exit.
I walk down the staircase, behind a short-haired, slender woman wearing a frayed tank top with the words "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity" scribbled across the back in Sharpie.
I think Nightfly Aide sees it too, although her notation (girls in Virgin t-shirts) is confusing at best.
As you can see, notes about personal style, dress, body art and grooming occupy a substantial plot of real estate in my helper's brain. She continues:
-guys with dreadlocks
-bad side burns
-bad roots (hair)
-ill fitting jackets
-plaid tank tops
-puffy pony tails
When personal appearance isn't weighing heavy on her fragile, whiskey- and pineapple-juice-soaked noodle, here's what's happening with her friends:
-Tina is drunk
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-Tonya farted on her boyfriend
-he hates farts
Don't we all Tooling through her notes, I struggle to make sense of them. I decide to present them Vonnegut Breakfast of Champions-style. I flip through them again. Written alone on a page is a word that, much like the highlighted "Eskimo" in Heathers, speaks volumes: