By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The bass pulses in my bones, causing my hips to thrust involuntarily to the beat. Most nights, this is not a particularly rhythmic activity for me; it's more of a seismic anomaly than a dance move.
Tonight is different. I'm poured into my best Italian suit. I'm recording urbane observations with an Olympus DS-330 digital voice recorder in my right hand. I'm sipping a Dewar's rocks with my left. I'm in Sense, one of Dallas' premier spots for the sexy and stylish. I have Shane, owner of an $1,800 suit and nightclub-tested repartee, acting as wingman. The crowd is beautiful, it's 1 a.m., and I am feelin' it.
Through the mad crush of nipped and tucked flesh, a hand emerges. From behind, a woman rubs my head from back to front, then rakes her long shiny nails across my neck.
I turn to find a young blonde with blue eyes and deep cleavage. It finally happened. After a week of chasing the Beautiful People around Dallas, trying to discern the pattern of their late-night migrations, one has finally emerged from the bush and touched me.
The look in her eyes suggests love or 10 beers. She smiles. I smile. She puts a finger to her mouth and giggles. I unleash my sexiest smile.
"Omigod, I'm sorry--I thought you were someone else!" she yells over the song.
I nod. She scampers away. I spot my wingman, who looks confused.
"She rubbed my head, dude!" I yell, pointing. "That girl!"
He raises his glass and salutes me. He knows that just because she all but ran from me when I turned around isn't the point. It's that for a brief moment I was a part of the show. I was onstage with the Dallas elite, a bit player in the long-running romantic comedy Dallas' Beautiful People put on nightly.
"When you put together your article, think of it this way," says Tristan Simon, founder of Consilient Restaurants, which owns Sense, Candle Room, Cuba Libre and Fireside Pies on Henderson Avenue. "What goes on at Sense and Candle Room, on some level, is a show, a theatrical production. We're there to put on the best show. When you think about all the seamless elements needed--lights, music, drinks, all the elements that make up that cool, sexy experience--we want you to come away wowed."
My moment, small and fleeting and mistaken as it was, didn't come easily. For a week I'd hit all the big-name clubs--Republic, Sense, Candle Room, Medici, Primo's, Nikita, Dragonfly--searching for the stars of Dallas nightlife. Along the way, I'd tried to persuade my friends--young, middle-aged, single, married, anyone--to join me in my anthropological quest to track Hotticus Erectus. I told them we would fit in seamlessly. I promised them we would be made to feel welcome.
All but one turned me down or ended up canceling.
Perhaps they knew I was lying. We don't fit in.
My wife watches me spend 30 minutes trying on different outfits. Which Target shirt, I wonder, looks least like a Target shirt?
This is important. In most cities, clothing is to cover your naughty bits or offer protection from sun and rain. In Dallas, clothing is a status symbol, like owning a Lexus SUV or a Calatrava bridge. I choose to go in all black, because it looks "nightclubby." Black is also slimming.
This is what happens when you're trying to keep up with people 15 years younger and 200 times wealthier. I assume the Beautiful People prep for their nights out by rolling in freshly picked lavender, then are dressed by bluebirds or kick-ass robots, depending on gender.
First, I head to Republic, in Uptown off McKinney Avenue. I've heard how hot this place is. A friend says his buddy knew a guy who went in there, and there were these two smokin' hot chicks just mugging down on each other, totally, like, porning it up. He had to make sure he was in the right upscale super-swanky spot. And then this person I don't know asked someone there who was or wasn't in charge, you know, whuz the dealio, yo? And this person apparently and allegedly said they like to bring in hot ladies to mug down because guys dig it. And I'm thinking, dude, my kinda place. Let's get this party started.
Turns out Republic is closed already. Biz must have been slow tonight. Not a good start.
After pointing out the best strip clubs to six British guys at The Loon--long story--I try to scare up trouble. The rest of the city is dead. In the West Village, Nikita is closed, too. At a near-empty Ferré, I watch a drunk couple fondle each other while I suck on a pineapple wedge soaked in vodka. Knox-Henderson, nothing. I cruise Lower Greenville. Dead. Avi Adelman's dreams have finally come true.
Defeated, I stumble down the sidewalk to Terilli's, that Greenville Avenue bastion of good taste and sleek scenery. Ricki Derek, the Sinatra/Deano cover artist, is singing to four people, not counting waitstaff. I order another Dewar's rocks ($8) and watch Derek, who played at my good friend's wedding five years ago and who fought with another friend of mine over a girl 10 years ago. I've been in this city too long. I'm old. I'm kinda drinky. I've failed.