We Found a Freelance Limo at Ships and Rode it Through Taco Cabana's Drive-Through

I can't tell you his name and I can't give you his phone number but he has 1995 Cadillac limousine, and if you can find him on Greenville Avenue, he will definitely give you a ride. But you have to find him, maybe the way we did, in the dark cold of a dive bar at the end of a long Saturday night.

That That, Samantha McCurdy and Alexander DiJulio's Dallas gallery, has become a lively home for emerging artists, entertaining gatherings and mildly ridiculous afterparties. Most recently, it played host to semigloss. Magazine's third-issue release party. Sally Glass, the publication's editor and Dallas Observer People Issue cover girl, was having an unquestionably good week. No matter how many times I wander into That That for something truly civilized, and Saturday was that, my first memories will always be walking up those wide stairs, strapped down with Champagne for a night of debauchery at the hands of the Track Meet DJ collective. It was darker then, and I think the windows were covered in trash bags.

Elements of That That's varied personality were on display from the moment you walked in. Lucy Kirkman's exhibition Library of Babel was bathed in light from every side of the building. But on the side of the stairwell right at the gallery entrance were remnants from That That's installation at Ku De Ta, recently unveiled during their turn as hosts for Blake Ward's Friday night poolside party. One part light bright, one part Kool-Aid, all striking -- it is a colorful and playful interplay of color and light and personality. And it was made for a pool party.

As grimy as some of those afterparties can get, the semigloss. shindig was an exercise in refined good vibes. The fashion kids came, the photographers, the artists, the musicians. I even saw some critics smiling. The lack of A/C and a broken keg tap couldn't stifle the mood -- everyone was grabbing onto the coattails of Glass' good week and riding them into the sundown. Or at least onto the streets to await afterparty instructions where they could gather in the timid breeze.

Since we were already gathered at one of Dallas' current afterparty meccas, the selection would have to be perfect. Cold, dark, cheap. Good music.


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Walking into that sainted dive bar, it seemed everyone had grabbed one friend and one bottle on their way toward Greenville Avenue. These impromptu Ships nights are among my favorites. A fun game at the table is to match the half-empty bottle of cheap liquor to its owner. Traveling from various wet bars to the vinyl-covered highboy table was a plastic bottle of Sauza Gold tequila, an entirely full bottle of Jameson, a vodka with most of the label scratched away, the last quarter of a bottle of Citadelle and some of those tiny airport bottles of a sweet-tea vodka. People were joyfully making do. Five dollars was promptly dumped into the jukebox and DJ Trademarxx was sent to do some curating. And in the back and forth of greeting new people, stealing liquor from strangers and keeping the jukebox afloat, she drove up. That 1995 Silver Cadillac limousine, like some sort of fashionable time travel machine. She was bulky with a leather interior and a silver-haired driver far more casual than his carrier. It was one of those limousines with three doors, a closer cousin to a hearse than a party bus, but still entirely glamorous. She is the perfect dive bar limo: old and sturdy and likely operated illegally. All of the East Dallas partygoers outside smoking were a little awed in her presence.

The driver was pulling up to enjoy a drink after a shift taking a family back and forth to a concert. I don't really know how the initial arrangements were made but someone came into the bar to grab my hand and inform me that we were going to get tacos and we were doing it in a Cadillac limousine.

Ten of us piled in, the leather cushy and comfortable, and down the street we went to gather an incredible $52 worth of Taco Cabana.

"So, how long have you been driving this thing?" I asked our driver. "Two weeks," he responded.

It was not the answer I was expecting.

He told me how he was in the market for an entirely different car and found this one instead. He put it on lay-away and just picked it up last week. This was only his third night out in it. I wasn't even aware you could put limousines on lay-away. "It just felt right," he said. "I hadn't seen one of these old limos in so long."

I do have to admit he looked comfortable perched at the head of the Cadillac and he seemed to know his audience.

"Would you have jumped in if it was a nicer ride?" he asked. We wouldn't have.

His plan seemed unclear. He didn't have a business card. When I asked for a phone number so that I could arrange a ride instead of finding him in a parking lot, he had to pull out a piece of paper to read it to me. He had a flip phone that was about to lose its charge.

As we all walked back into Ships, he clearly knew all the waitresses, which could be considered a high stamp of approval in these East Dallas streets.

More Aretha Franklin played. The liquor bottles emptied.

As we left, just past 2 a.m., a couple was leaning against the window, simultaneously talking to our new silver-haired friend and finding moments to kiss or tousle each other's hair. They lingered, clearly trying to make the night last a little longer. He offered them a ride through downtown or to Love Field Airport. They declined, but wondered how they might find him again.

"Oh, you will probably just run into me sometime," he said, "I will be around."

Which was great news. I hate Dallas cabs.

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