I was feeling anti-social on Friday night, which is difficult considering the Deep Ellum Arts Festival had drawn a thousand or so extra faces to the neighborhood. I had a soft goal in mind: to end up at the 2 Chainz concert at Main Event Center. No phone calls had been made. No emails had been written. I hadn't done anything to let the promoter know I was coming, and I certainly wasn't prepared to pay the $45 ticket price. So, I thought it would be a long shot, and it was even more doubtful when I saw the line wrapped around the building as I approached.
Earlier in the night, I'd set out on foot. The Swallow Lounge was the first stop on the docket. Inside, the place was empty, and out back on the patio, a group of about five played a game of corn hole. I know: corn hole at the Swallow Lounge. I never thought I'd have to write that sentence.
After that, I stopped at Dada to hear a few Smile Smile songs. Their set was solid as always, but the place was getting packed, so I kept moving.
Main Event Center was a shit show. The line was full of some of the most well-dressed and scantily clad people I'd seen all night. One girl walked by in a pair of short, short daisy dukes. Some of the men were clearly salivating. I approached the bouncer, a huge African-American man in a black suit, and said bluntly, "I don't have a ticket or any money. How do I get in this place?" He pointed to a promoter and told me to talk to him.
I asked him the same question, mentioning that I'm with the Observer, and he said, "Man, I can't let you in."
And that was that.
I had a few other places to visit, so I walked on. Allure and Tikibar were empty, though the manager insisted I should have seen it when Questlove did a DJ set there a few weeks back. On my way to Pearl at Commerce, I noticed purple lights and pounding bass emanating from the back door of a nondescript white building on the corner of Elm and Pearl. A group of black men hung out around the door and I approached, asking, "What is this place?"
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A bouncer exclaimed, "This is a gay bar!" I thought maybe he was saying that because he thought I wouldn't want to check it out. I was wrong. Lots of dudes dressed as ladies
inside. I had already felt out of my element for a few hours, so I snapped a few photos and left.
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A few more stops and then I decided to walk back home. Passing back by Main Event Center around midnight, the line had doubled in size. I heard someone shout, "Hey, hey, Observer guy." When I turned, it was the promoter standing there with a VIP wristband for me. We bypassed the line and went to the VIP elevator, up to the top balcony of the five-story building. I was then directed to a VIP section, velvet ropes being lifted for me at every turn, where a
handful of people looked over the rails at the massive dance party below. I paid $10 for a vodka cranberry in a plastic cup because I felt like it would help me fit in.
I was wrong. There was no drink that could help a disheveled white guy wearing skinny jeans and an old T-shirt blend in with a sharply dressed, mostly African-American crowd. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I was comfortable again.
I resolved just to keep to myself. I was feeling anti-social anyway, but it was awe-inspiring to be in the middle of such a huge party with a VIP pass to see a rapper I knew nothing about. When I finished my drink, there was still no sign of 2 Chainz, and the party raged on. I threw away my cup and left.