Saturday, July 18, 2009

In Da Club


In real life, when the Millennium Falcon jumps to hyperdrive, you would catch fire and die. [Photo credit: Network 23 Photography]

February 3, 2006[1]

belo describes itself as hot and ultra-chic. So what’s chic? Chic, it turns out, is very finely distinguished from not-chic. For instance, I was told that the dress code would be “chic.” Jeans and a t-shirt? Not chic. Add a wallet chain circa the early nineties, and voila. You have done it.[2]

The grand opening of belo went off[3] last Thursday, February 2nd, at the spot that used to be E Street Alley. Jeff James, the club’s owner, wanted to renovate the successful club because he thought it could be better—specifically, he wanted to upgrade the club’s interior. “So many places look like bachelor pads,” he said. “We wanted ours to have a fun atmosphere.”

They certainly accomplished that. My friend described the place as “Austin Powers meets art deco.” I thought it looked like something out of Barbarella. I was therefore not surprised to see the Jane Fonda flick playing on all of the plasma TV’s in the place. Psychedelic would be an appropriate adjective for the interior—even my invisible ink re-entry stamp turned out to be a mushroom.[4]

My friend quickly decided to “roam,” periodically dropping suggestions on how to score with the “lay-deez.” “What you want to do,” he counseled, “is keep looking at them, but don’t talk to them.” My wingman jetted off in hopes of achieving his mission objective—three phone numbers.[5] This left me time to do what I do best—sample the menu.

E Street Alley used to serve sushi. The newly renovated belo features a full kitchen offering appetizers, entrees, and desserts—and, of course, drinks. I had the delicious pumpkin stuffed ravioli with spinach and black pepper butter, reasonably priced given its downtown location. Meanwhile, my friend was sampling the drinks. “How’s the martini?” I asked. “The martini’s fantastic!” Drinks average about 10 dollars. The service staff was excellent: friendly, dedicated, and constantly in motion.

Of course, we weren’t there for the food. We—and here I speak of the collective we—were here for DJ AM. If you don’t know who AM is, you, like me, do not read In Touch Magazine.[6] AM was Crazy Town’s DJ, (remember “Butterfly”?) and his reputation has outpaced theirs considerably.[7] He is now not only DJ to the stars[8] but also for many clubs across the country, and belo got him to come out to San Diego. You could tell it was him spinning from the way they announced it. And, of course, from the camera crew and the screaming women. Once AM began his set the crowd stopped dancing to watch the master do relatively little, since his set up is all digital and he doesn’t even spin records. Thank God some dancing girls showed up to give us something to stare at properly. However, some of his mash-ups were truly inspired (“Under Pressure” versus “Smoosh It,” for instance, or my favorite, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” meets “Float On”[9]).

Getting bored, I stepped into the biggest of the clubs three rooms. Unlike the other booths, tables, and small rooms, this one was not reserved, so I decided to sit on everything in it. Note: I sat on everything. Tables, chairs, the carpet. Everything. I paid good money to be at this club. I was going to get what I could get. Like most of the furnishings in the place, the couches and chairs were all rounded and plastic, as if they had been excreted rather than constructed. The room was bookended by two wall paintings; the first, a psychedelic piece dominated by reds and yellows and a repeating flower motif featuring the words, “It’s love that makes the world go round.” The other piece was a series of orange, yellow, and brown lines emanating from a single point that reminded me of what the Millennium Falcon looks like when it hits warp speed. If the Millennium Falcon were made of Reese’s Pieces.[10]

This place clearly did not look like a bachelor pad. It looked like Timothy Leary’s high school bedroom.

It was getting late. My friend had told me, “I can’t feel my bottom lip.” But he had reached his goal. Three numbers. Some girl darted over to us and threw her arms around him in that way that girls do not do with me. Perhaps you are familiar with it. They shared an embrace and she left. He laughed. “I don’t even know who that girl is!”[11].

On a Friday night, you can expect to pay $25 at the door; on a Saturday night, $30.[12]. Tonight, at the door, $50. I hope you bought your tickets in advance.

Notes:
  1. No, that’s not a mistake. Recently, I’ve been going back over old notebooks to finally develop ideas I had to put off while I prepared for the general exams for my PhD. This is an article I wrote for San Diego Citybeat that was rejected—see if you can figure out why. Anyway, I thought it was funny enough to post, and my additional comments will be found here, in the endnotes. [x]
  2. As for what elevates one to ultra-chic: pomade. [x]
  3. In response to your question: no. I could not be whiter, as I was unable to work “off the hizzy” into the article. Also, I prefer to be referred to as “ivory,” not “white,” since the former calls to mind my colonialist roots. [x]
  4. Being Italian, I immediately thought of plumbers. I suspect this was not the allusion they had in mind when they had the stamps made up. [x]
  5. Given his advice, one would expect that three restraining orders was a more realistic objective. [x]
  6. But I occasionally browse whilst at the checkout counter… [x]
  7. Of course, in the four years since this was written, DJ AM has become notable only for surviving plane crashes. Meanwhile, Crazy Town is scheduled to release a comeback album in 2009, titled “Crazy Town is Back.” That he left the band in 2001 suggests that AM is also good at surviving train wrecks. [x]
  8. Almost DJ in the stars. [x]
  9. My favorite version of this song—maybe even over the original—is the Kidz Bop version, which you can find on Kidz Bop volume 7. [x]
  10. Note: Reese’s Pieces would melt. [x]
  11. Club belo. Making dreams come true. One anonymous drunk girl at a time. [x]
  12. Anonymous drunk girls: priceless. Proving that there are some things in life money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s booze. [x]

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