"So -- what's it like in there?"
He was a young medical intern from Baylor University Medical Center and he was in line at The Slip Inn with a group of guys celebrating a bachelor party.
"I take it you aren't from here," I replied. "What have you heard?"
"We told some girl across the street we wanted to dance. We were going to go to someplace called the Lizard Lounge but she told us to come here," he said. "But it looks small. Do we need to be more dressed up?"
"It's sort of hard to explain. But the music will be great and don't worry, you won't need a jacket or bottle service. It's, um ... not that kind of club," I said with a smile. "But it is the only line in this town I am willing to stand in."
The Slip Inn is not closing. It's just moving, to a location TBD. But The Slip Inn, in its current incarnation, is one of a kind, and its 15-year run is impressive in a fickle city of moths flying to the brightest thing over and over. This particular thing has never been the brightest. It's relied on other charms to win a loyal following. So it's with some sadness we bid adieu to the strangest little club in town. At least as we currently know it.
There were lessons learned in that dark dingy club. It's not so much about judging a book by its cover as it is underestimating it. Does the Slip Inn draw its own cast of shady characters? Sure, on occasion. Did its bathroom reputation precede it? Certainly. Depending on the year there are tales of sex, drugs and hip-hop. You could never underestimate what surprises might be lurking in the dark of that room.
The Slip Inn was the first bar from which I got someone booted, a fact I'm neither proud nor ashamed of. "Just move to the other side of the dance floor," my friend urgently whispered in my ear.
"Just some guy. He won't keep his hands off me."
This guy had moved past any type of normal boner-brushing, even reaching his hand into places it didn't belong, and he wasn't invited to get closer. I kept my eye on him and could tell he was taking advantage of the packed dance floor to make moves with a quick getaway. This happens all the time, everywhere but the grocery store. But I was pissed that we were leaving instead of him. It also gave credence to the comments people have long made about the The Slip Inn, when it was so easy to toss out the bad apple.
There was a wild bartender there at this time. He always wore a lot of black eyeliner, and he'd plow through your freak train, flashlight in hand. Sometimes you have to use manic energy for good.
"It's that guy," I said to this bartender, and pointed out the perp, who was asked to leave. The Slip's door guys were on the side of the party. We'd all worked hard that week and were letting off a little steam at the bar; no need for some uninvited aggressive groping to ruin it for the rest of us, no need to be uncomfortable on one of your favorite dance floors. No need to not stand up for yourself.
Whenever I got to the Slip Inn, I rarely stopped at the bar, plowing instead to the back corner. Especially if Rob Viktum, my favorite Slip Inn DJ, was there, I planted a flag on the dance floor and tossed my purse in the booth for some blessedly hands-free dancing.
The Slip Inn, this Slip Inn, was also my favorite place to send out-of-towners. It subverted every Texas expectation and stereotype in one swoop. The music was always on point and you never knew who you might run into. And once John Hernandez went behind the bar, it was genuinely the only place I could share my favorite margarita. In a town that expertly works in the extremes, places and people of interest are sometimes only found in the fanciest leather booths or the dirtiest. If any place serves as the liaison between the two, it is The Slip.
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Which isn't to say it's nice and isn't to say it's dirty, but it is a place that creates room for DJ battles and for random wedding after-parties, and that intentionally unites old school and new school in a way that always keeps things interesting.
It could be divisive, sure. Some will say it was trashy, some will say they saw too many fights. And for all those reasons and more, maybe change will be good and a new location will bring its own new stories and characters and notorious bathrooms. But this is a toast for The Slip Inn as we know it. The only club in town where my friend's car key got stolen right out of her pocket mid-dance and we all still went back because even if you couldn't leave with your car, you always left with a story.