By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
But the more important question is, Why would the police, or anyone else, care? The Dallas Observer took a trip to the Midnight Rendezvous to try to find out.
On this Friday evening in Garland, a steady sleet is turning into the season's first snowfall. A neighbor casts a suspicious glance at a couple bounding up the walkway to Neil's one-story house, which is located in a neighborhood filled with rusting basketball hoops, dinged-up pickups, and the occasional HUD home.
For the last four years, Neil has thrown discreet swinger parties here, usually attracting about eight couples on Fridays and Saturdays. Tonight, however, it's apparently too cold to swing.
After an unusually long wait, a carrottopped woman with a deeply lined face opens the door to the tiny, darkened home. "No party," she reports. "No people."
A gracious host, the woman takes a seat on a black vinyl couch in the TV room and explains that Neil is already in bed. Dressed in blue jeans and a fitted blouse that exposes her bellybutton, the 40-something woman looks worn.
The walls are decked out with cheesy pictures of women, posed seductively with pursed lips, and the coffee table is stacked with home-recorded videos. The living room has been transformed into a bar, centered on a pool table that looks like it was bought secondhand.
In the bathroom, a copy of Dominatrix Domain and a Penthouse lie on the floor, alongside an economy-sized bottle of wintergreen mouthwash. The group room lies just off the bathroom. It is small, distinct for the mirrors on the wall and a row of plastic-wrapped mattresses on the floor.
An unidentifiable musky odor permeates the air.
"I'd hate to take your money when there's nobody here," she says apologetically. She is, of course, referring to the $30 "donation" the club asks its visitors to make.
The following Monday, Neil apologized for the slow turnout. To make up for the miscue, Neil extends an invitation to a special upcoming event.
"It's a Wesson Oil party," he says, adding that the party will be like regular parties, "only you do it in oil."
Hours before nobody showed up at the Midnight Rendezvous, business is equally slow at the Jet Set. The lack of turnout could be the weather, but the presence of a Dallas squad car and two vice officers, their faces hidden underneath ski masks as they stand outside the bar, isn't helping matters.
Officially, the officers are here to gather some additional information stemming from the October 25 raid, but the people inside the bar interpret their arrival as an intimidation tactic.
"Don't they have anything better to do?" asks a fortysomething woman who is propped at the bar next to her husband.
With short brown hair and heavy eyeliner, the woman is dressed in an elegant black camisole that makes her look hopelessly out of place. Her husband, like most of the men present, has a paunch and could easily pass as a chaperon at a high school dance.
About 10 couples are seated throughout the bar, which is equipped with round black booths and metal chairs. A woman seated on a barstool slyly slips her hand on her companion's knee, letting it roam precariously close to criminal territory. Prince's hit song "Sexy Motherfucker" blares from the DJ booth and rumbles across the empty dance floor.
A white-haired couple trots up to the bar, the disco light reflecting off of their eyeglasses. The woman is dressed in a red pantsuit, and with her pear-shaped frame, she resembles Mrs. Claus. The police out front, she says, gave her a green light to come inside.
"I went up to the officer and asked if we should bother coming in," the woman reports. "She said, 'We're not going to harass you tonight.'