For the past 15 years, Dallas locals' dirty little nightlife secret sat at Henderson and McMillan avenues. The Slip Inn may have been tiny, it may have been poorly lit, and the bathrooms might have been the most avoided on Henderson -- but there was a reason that there was a line to get in nearly every weekend. Slip Inn's hole-in-the-wall charm was more than apparent after just one trip to the small dancefloor. It was a place for Dallas to go end the night dancing close with a stranger, maybe get a little stoned on the back patio, and hear classic old-school hip-hop and R&B. No other club in Dallas has ever really showcased DJs of the genre the same way.
This past Saturday night, on the bar's last night open at 1806 McMilllan Ave., the line to get in was as long as I had ever seen it. Trailing down the parking lot against the club's brick wall, it almost reached the back patio fence by midnight. Girls in the back chain-smoked, teeming with the frustration of having to wait.
Across the street, Beauty Bar would hit record turn-out numbers for DJ Blake Ward's Glamorama weekly (which celebrates three years on Henderson this weekend) due to the overflow from their neighboring bar's last hurrah. Chaos ensued briefly as a fight broke out at Beauty Bar leading to a bloody dance floor. An ambulance and two squad cars popped curbs to surround the bar for about a half hour. The block seemed tense, and in a state of restlessness. For a moment, I worried that the neighborhood was having an adverse reaction to the night.
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But bar fights happen anywhere and everywhere -- and after a warm greeting from Rosanne Dileo, Slip Inn's operating manager who chose to spend some time working door for the last hurrah -- it was clear to see that what was going on within the club's walls was all love. The packed room was swarmed with happy, convivial faces. The drink lines were long but people were happy to wait in them, and tipping well for the privilege. This was not a sullen lamentation or a funeral service in the wake of the end of an era, it was a celebration of the memories we'd all shared there over the years.
Weekend resident DJ Rob Viktum was on a weekend-long run of The Slip Inn's greatest hits, cutting and blending the likes of Boyz II Men, Young Dro, Tupac, Beyoncé, Bell Biv Devoe and everything in between. As I danced, nostalgia seemed to strike my homegirl and I. We reminisced over all the wild nights we'd spent on that dancefloor, all the men we'd met there but never called, all the times we'd boxed out over-eager creeps who got too close to us, and how much fun we had in our hoppin' little hole in the wall. Just when we were starting to get too into our feelings, a friendly stranger dancing with his girl snapped us out of it.
"Smile, ladies!" he told us, "It's a party in here!"
Here's to 15 years of long nights and rough mornings, dancing in dark corners, and shots at the bar with regulars. And here's hoping that the new and improved Slip Inn opens sooner than later, because we all need a friendly stranger to dance with from time to time.