Blue-Collar Nights

To the sound of a Latin beat, the city's working stiffs escape the daily grind at Escapade, two of the biggest nightclubs you've never heard of -- not if English is your first language

With the disc jockey done for the night inside, the noise floats outside with the crowd. Telephone-number swaps and goodnight smooches abound. A guy in a tight yellow T-shirt asks a group of girls in trendy, open-toed dress sandals where they're from. They all chat briefly, then one with straight, bleach-blonde hair lingers while the others head toward their car.

"Are you coming?" one of the friends hollers in Spanish toward the straggler.

The guy doesn't want the party to end. "Where are you going now?" he asks.

Tens of thousands of dollars in Spanish-language radio and TV ads pack 'em in at Dos Mil Uno.
Mark Graham
Tens of thousands of dollars in Spanish-language radio and TV ads pack 'em in at Dos Mil Uno.
Maria Moreno cheers for one of the men during the sexiest dance contest at Escapade 2009.
Mark Graham
Maria Moreno cheers for one of the men during the sexiest dance contest at Escapade 2009.

"To bed," she says, and heads toward her ride.

A man in a white pickup truck vrooms out from the back of 2001, nearly mowing over another girl walking across the parking lot. New, bright lot lights shine through a rolled-down window and catch a bloodied nose--presumably the product of a fight.

More than one patron stumbles. Car doors slam, engines start, radios blast.

Dallas' invisible population, illuminated in the club lights for one night, morphs back into the night. Most will wake up in cramped apartments, many to a crying baby, ticked-off spouse, snoring roommate, noisy neighbors or street traffic. Most will wake up facing a day of hard work.

Back to reality.

Cheryl Smith is a Dallas-based freelance writer who has worked in Mexico and on the Texas-Mexico border as a journalist.

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