It opens at 7, but my all-too-kind date — who set an alarm to join me, with only breakfast tacos and dubious company to show for it — and I are the only people inside The Goat until just past 8, when a middle-aged couple takes the stools down the bar. A few more trickle in over the next couple hours. It's probably safe to say they didn't crab walk over from the CrossFit studio.
Being at a bar this early is less like being at a bar and more like watching people work while you sit on your ass drinking. You feel guilty not pitching in, moving a chair out of the way as they sweep or offering to slice up a few limes. But showing up this early gives a peek at its inner workings, the things you don't notice when you're taking a shot of courage before the karaoke host calls your name: the rattle of quarters in a coin-counting machine as a coin-op employee tallies the proceeds from the small assortment of eight-liner games; the bar manager across the table, doing paperwork of his own; the endless swish of the broom as a worker seems determined to take as long as possible sweeping the floor. The lack of urgency is a stark contrast to the hurried whatcanIgetcha you're used to.
The bartender, Jeremy, in his ponytail and Duck Dynasty T-shirt, says it usually doesn't pick up until about 10 on weekdays. Weekend mornings will bring in 7 a.m. customers still keeping the party going from the night before, but during the week the only early drinkers are Baylor workers coming off night shifts and an ex-Marine whose stories Jeremy never tires of.
It's slow enough and quiet enough — nobody feeds the jukebox this early — for conversation. I ask about the newish sign by the front door: No Vests, No Colors, No Clubs. It's to dissuade biker fights. Gypsies and Wolverines would occasionally stop by, but it was Scorpions who were the problem. The younger ones, he's quick to add — the older guys were respectful but the new guys were trouble. Since they put the sign out a few weeks ago, they haven't had any issues.
There are a handful of customers by the time Live with Kelly and Hey That's Not Regis comes on at 9, or 9:15 going by the bar's always-fast clocks. We watch for a while, even playing along with the show's insipid game "Guess the Glass," wherein contestants identify the celebrity in a photo as he or she is slowly revealed, eyewear first. It'll be 10 soon, and the lady with the broom still hasn't finished.--Jesse Hughey
7248 Gaston Ave.; thegoatdallas.com
The stubborn wooden doors containing the morning's entertainment won't even open for half an hour, but tensions are already high. Getting to the Addison Londoner early on big match days is necessary. Demand for seats in this smoky, dark, unreconstructed piece of British nostalgia far outstrips supply, to the point where I once watched a game from outside the bar in the stifling heat, only able to listen longingly to the sheer mayhem unfolding inside.
The doors are gingerly pushed open by a slight blonde waitress, and the rush for seats is on. It's coffee all around to start, but only until the clock strikes 10, which is by coincidence both kick-off time and the hour at which alcoholic beverages are first permitted. The hubbub will only grow as the taps start flowing and more jerseyed bodies file in, pressing against each other in search of real estate. Smoking is permitted inside, so the bar soon disappears under a haze of coffee and nicotine, and kick-off time for both sport and drinking is greeted with a harried waitress slowly making the rounds. It could be any hour at all in here.
She's generally ignored, of course, as the first chant of the day goes up. Drinking with British soccer fans is not like drinking with other sports fans. There's chanting, the wittier and more derogatory the better, and the proximity of the groups of fans soon brings out lurid chants in which dozens of grown men band together to wish death upon an entire group of people, or just joyfully curse at them. Once, at a game here between the two Manchester clubs at another ungodly hour on a Sunday, I saw a full-on conga line winding through the entire bar in celebration of the surely imminent death of one team's 70-year-old coach.
The soccer is uneventful today, but the drinking and smoking help the atmosphere reach a fever pitch the games themselves can't. Watching these colors being beamed over an ocean from 5,000 miles away at what is now 11 on a Sunday morning should be a dissociative experience, one that is jarring in its manufactured fakeness. It's not. It's just like watching soccer in any packed bar in the world, only this time a whole day of drinking and the endless possibilities of that stretch in front of you. Although the soccer season just ended, the drinking has only just started.--Gavin Cleaver
14930 Midway Road, Addison; londoneraddison.com
"The drag queens are drunk again," one bartender whispers to the other. There's a tandem eye-roll before they pivot, refilling our mimosas with a grandly choreographed dip of dueling cava bottles.
Which is precisely why I'm here: I love a sloppy hot mess of seam-ripped sequins, hard-flung expletives and tattered updos, a place where a wasted drag queen can stagger through a hungover herd in a broken size 14 heel like a wounded bar gazelle, then lift a piece of fried chicken off your plate and gulp it down while your back's turned. She might also manage to swap out your real jewelry for her Harry Hines knock-offs, grift your purse and insult your entire table — all payback for you rudely and inattentively shooting a text off to some dude you banged last night, and in the middle of her solo no less. Next thing you know: bam! She's acquired your cell phone and is using it to call that dude you just texted. She'll tell him you've got pussy rot, then ask logistical questions about your performance in bed with the phone on speaker. Her makeup remains flawless.
"I look like Tammy Faye Bakker two weeks pre-burial," says Jenni P, the emcee who just materialized from a magical kitchen/greenroom star gate, her wig melting to the side like a separated, coagulated Benedict. "Whoo! I'm sweating butter."
She's holding it together, operating on glamour-host jungle rules, possessed by a foul-mouthed stream of consciousness and throwing more shade than a redwood forest. Don't panic: She's staying hydrated, mostly by lifting mimosas from customers' tables.
"I fell over there and hit my ass so hard my asshole pulled a tile up," she whines, thumbing toward the bar and then breaking into a musical number. Jenni P's special guest queens emerge, forming a triad of the most fabulously extraterrestrial girl group to ever do shots while pantomiming audio clips from Mommy Dearest.
The performance goes on much longer than predicted, probably because we're all lubed up. The bartenders gave up tallying this room's intake hours ago, succumbing to the sequin and waffle anarchy, free-pouring Champagne anywhere they see a glass. By the set's end, we've somehow switched tables and made friends with a party of 12; several members of our new tribe are wearing clothes and accessories that once belonged to the ternt-out divas. My morning makeup has atrophied in the sweaty commotion and now resembles war paint. God I hope that's syrup in my hair.
Before we can get our bearings, they vanish. The doors open, light pours in and we're left to re-assimilate with the real world, which suddenly blows. It's hot and bright and absolutely nobody is channeling Joan Crawford. Our glamour Champagne divining rods have gone limp, and we're like every other confused post-brunch, touched-by-a-drag-angel soul, wandering Cedar Springs in search of the karaoke cab. Come back to us, you evening-wear-clad totem spirit animals! We are lost without sassy guidance and half-applied eyelashes.
Hey, wasn't I wearing a necklace?--Jamie Laughlin
The Drag Brunch at Dish, 4123 Cedar Springs Road; dish-dallas.com
I'm at the bar of the famed Zodiac Room, embarking on an anthropological study of ladies (and men) who lunch, those rare birds who soar the bejeweled skies of the midday downtown drinking culture. This storied restaurant on the sixth floor of Neiman-Marcus, which was guided to culinary greatness by Helen Corbitt in the 1960s, has always served an upper tier of Dallas society. Don't be fooled by my presence: The well-heeled clientele is still here. And now they have a "skinny" drink menu to help the guilt go down.
I'm two Weightless Mojitos in myself. I overhear a conversation among three ladies sipping white wine at the other end of the bar. One woman, with well-toned arms and magic highlights that look good in any lighting, is venting about a dress that was delivered to her house in the wrong size. She's visibly upset. The friends nod and sip sympathetically, then they all toss their heads back and laugh, plumage reflecting off the Zodiac's mirrored bar, producing the distinct call of the Diamond-ringed Moneyfalcon, indigenous to Dallas.
After a glass of Prosecco, the lunch crowd starts to thin, and things get a little blurry. There in the corner is what looks like a flock of White-collared Whiskeybills, enjoying hour two or three of lunch, or maybe four if they started early, and having Very Important Business Conversations. At a nearby table sit four Southern Gossiphawks, dressed in colorful scarves and crisp collared shirts, the height of each one's hair fighting for dominance as they pick at plates of greens. Conversations can go on forever here. It's easy to lose track of time, to be whisked away to another era. To wonder what these walls have seen.
It's 3 p.m. now, and the Zodiac is closing. I take the elevator down to the first floor but accidentally get off too early. I try on a fur coat and a hat and realize I am drunker than I thought. Also, I look deranged. There is something exciting about navigating the labyrinth of Neiman-Marcus, this grand ship of old-Dallas commerce, but it's even more exciting doing so day-drunk.
Finally on the first floor, I get lost a few times, circling back around a makeup counter to spray a criminal amount of perfume on myself, or run my hand over lingerie and hosiery I can't afford. I finally find an exit and am thrust back into reality. But for a few hours, at least, my odor is unmistakable: Moneyfalcon.--Audra Schroeder
1618 Main St.; neimanmarcus.com
They read the obituaries to make sure they're still alive.
The ritual is repeated at least several times a day. One of three doors is thrust open, sunlight crashes in around a withered silhouette, and a call comes out from the bar. "Who the hell is this guy?" asks anyone. "My name is Buck, and I don't give a fuck," says John, his eyes squinting as he walks into the dark room. There's already a beer waiting for him at the bar. It's a bottle of Bud.
Everyone knows Club Schmitz, the dilapidated dive bar that somehow ended up under the train tracks instead of on the wrong side, but it's the everymen who flank the worn Formica who give this bar its pulse. John hasn't visited in a while. His friends were worried. For decades they've come to swill at Peckerwood Corner, and sometimes a comrade stops showing up.
They buy their beer in rounds: "Give me a Bud and one of whatever everyone else is drinking." It doesn't matter how many bottles are already stacked in the queue. Five men have ordered 25 beers in just a half hour and only drank 10. The bartender somehow keeps track, even though two of them are named John. "This one's on John, John. Thanks, John."
They're veterans and businessmen, pilots and bricklayers: old souls, some of which outdate the furniture. None of them is sure how their group got its name; it's as old as the dust that clings to the light fixtures. "Maybe someone came in and called one of us a Peckerwood," Blackie says. Twenty years ago Club Schmitz was often packed, and he used to come early to save a few stools. Things are slower now — the Peckerwoods included.
"A lot have died," Blackie says, and others have moved, or moved on. Blackie is pulling hard on his bottle. He's got somewhere to go, but a replacement slides across the bar top just as his empty bottle lands. The Peckerwoods have a pull of their own. Besides, Vince Gill is on the jukebox now and Wess is singing.
Then all of them are singing. They tell good jokes and bad jokes and talk about fast cars, the headlamps on girls and times that most have forgotten. Club Schmitz used to be different. The burgers were thicker and the neighborhood was vibrant. Now the bar that used to be on the edge of Dallas mildews in a forgotten part of town, while the Peckerwoods hold their vigil with sweating bottles.--Scott Reitz
9661 Denton Drive
The Tried & True
I'm 39 weeks pregnant and I need a drink like Justin Bieber needs a hard punch in the dick. I roll myself up to the bar, Violet-Beauregard-after-they-turn-her-into-a giant-blueberry-in-Willy Wonka style, and order one.
"Vodka tonic, please."
The sweet bartender laughs at me. She thinks I am kidding. I am not kidding. I rub my disgustingly huge and invaded-by-an-alien belly at her and repeat, "Vodka tonic, please." My unborn spawn gives my ribcage The People's Elbow and then dropkicks my placenta (Fetusspeak Translation: "I'mma bust outta here right now if she doesn't serve you, stat, Mom"). The bartender sees that I am, how they say, not fucking around. She pours the drink.
As the vodka tonic hits the bar in front of me, memories of sitting at this exact spot at this exact bar more than a year ago, in the olden days, when the place was completely different (it was called "Neighborhood Services Tavern," not "Tried & True"), hits me like a shitty How I Met Your Mother flashback.
"There's a line at the women's bathroom? Screw it, I'll go in the men's room. I hear James Bond reading a book to me over some speaker! That's badass! Ooh, look! Old-ass shoes and a bowling ball, just sitting there. This bathroom is just like Chili's! It has all the old random shit in it you could never need! Hell yes. James Bond, I will now try on the old-ass shoes. THE OLD-ASS SHOES FIT MY RONALD McDONALD FEET!! WOOHOOOO!! DRINKING!!! I WILL WEAR THESE OUT INTO THE BAR AND IMMEDIATELY REGRET THE LAST 10 MINUTES AND THEN I WILL PUT THEM BACK AND TRY TO DRINK AWAY THE PAIN!"
I pass the vodka tonic to a friend.
And that's when things get really sober at Tried & True for me. Too sober.
Forty-Five-Year-Old Drunk Lady new-boobs her way up to the jukebox. Moments later, "Sweet Home Alabama" starts to play. She and her eight friends sing the words and also every instrument, "DOODELEEDOOT DOOT DOODELDEE DEE!! ...Where the skaaaaaasarsuhboo!" This will not end soon.
If I can't get drunk on drinks, I decide, will at least get food drunk. I order the cheeseburger cheese fries. Thank God and Nick Badovinus for cheeseburger cheese fries. They are just what you think they are: cheese fries + a hamburger on top (hamburger meat, tomato, lettuce, three mini heart attacks). As the food coma set in, the fact that "Sweet Home Alabama" has played twice in a row, followed by "OOOOOh weerhaffwaythaaayyyr oooohAAAAWH livinnonnapraaar," "Poor SuhshugarOWNmaaay," and motherfucking Kid Rock don't even bother me. Thankfully, I leave before the Cupid Shuffle happens. Whether it's on the jukebox or not, that was next on the rotation, I'm sure of it. Because when you get eight mid-40s white women drunk on a Wednesday evening, The Cupid Shuffle always shows up around midnight. It's science.--Alice Laussade
2405 North Henderson Ave.; neighborhoodservicesdallas.wordpress.com
The parking lot at Los Dos Reales can only fit maybe 15 cars. But on most days, it's vacant enough that you could set up a taco truck in it. On most days someone does, in fact, but not tonight. Tonight the pickup trucks are double-parked, two-by-two, around the small building. There's a $5 cover charge at the door and there must be a hundred people inside, enough that not everyone can have a seat.
Fortunately, there's still space on the dance floor. The Tejano band plays a waltz and well-dressed couples move in stately time with the music.
One two three Four five six ...
Orders are coming fast, and one straight-faced server handles them all. She moves through the tables as gracefully as the dancers, bringing bottles of Topo Chico and buckets of Bud Light to the people sitting down, the ones without dance partners. She brings Dixie cups full of lime wedges and shakers full of salt. The bartender fills up another bucket with beer, five around the edges and one upside-down in the middle.
One two three Four five six ...
A woman named Albina has been coming here since '96. Back then she lived in the neighborhood. She doesn't any more, but she's willing to drive a little out of her way for her favorite bar. Behind her on the wall hangs a framed cloth with images hand-sewn into it. There's a bottle of Jack Daniel's, a mug of beer, roses and the words "Los Dos Reales" inside a heart.
If you're driving up Columbia Avenue, Los Dos Reales is easy to miss. It's just past the strip mall with the head shop and the cell phone store and the Save Mart Furniture. If you hit the Auto Zone on the other side of Fitzhugh, you've passed it. It's the little green building with the red roof. Come on a weekday after work and it'll be quiet enough to talk to the people who've been regulars for nearly all of the bar's 29 years. But right now the band is a solid mass of accordion and trumpet and brash vocals, and the longest sentences you can get across are two words long.
One two three Four five six ...
A middle-aged duo takes the dance floor. He's wearing blue slacks and a green polo shirt. She's taller than him by an inch or two and wearing a cream-colored blouse with a brown skirt. They do not smile. He puts one arm on the small of her back, pulls her toward him and stares with great focus at the wall. They wait to catch the rhythm of the song.
One two three Four five six ...
The band reaches the end of a phrase and together the two dancers join the rest, making star shapes with their feet in perfect time.--Kiernan Maletsky
108 N. Fitzhugh Ave.
On a marginally benighted stretch of Davis Street west of Hampton Road in Oak Cliff, the frame of my Honda shudders as I bottom out on broken asphalt in the spillover lot. I leave my car next to the billboard that all but obscures this white concrete building from westbound passersby and walk past the palm trees crudely painted on its plywood-sealed windows. Its name connotes seafaring exclusivity. But truly, Tradewinds Social Club welcomes all, be they "slumming" urban explorers or the regulars — a friendly, well-meaning gaggle of drunks and weirdos and tipplers for whom this dimly lit dive serves as an extended living room.
I open the door, step into its dark recesses, order a Maker's on the rocks and breathe in the random. It's karaoke night, and the soundtrack for the evening is an incoherent assortment of songs performed drunkenly, cheerfully and in keys not at all intended by their composers. Everyone, that is, except for the boy in the blue Dallas Mavericks T-shirt, who can't be a day over 9. I've seen him before, sharking the pool table with cunning, cupidity and a steady hand. Now he stands before a mural of a log raft at sea, crooning "1994" by Jason Aldean, the chorus of which is literally the name "Joe Diffie" sung repeatedly. Patrons raise their glasses to him and cheer. It's difficult to imagine another watering hole as degenerate-seeming as Tradewinds (note the 12-inch closed-circuit television hanging next to the bar, streaming grainy gray footage of the parking lot; behold, the cramped men's room, all aglow with blue Christmas lights). Yet it feels safe, familiar, as though you know every patron, even though you've never met a single one of them.
It's a place that defies categorization. It's the little boy everyone at the bar watches over, dotes on, loses at pool to. It's the three black ladies bobbing expertly to "Cupid Shuffle." It's the warped shuffleboard table whose curves you have to know, or you'll get hosed by someone who does. It's the man in a Budweiser button-up, who looks vaguely like Art Alexakis' hardbitten doppelganger, alternately emitting guttural sounds and speaking in a bad, gutter-snipey British accent. And it's especially that time, shortly before last call, when he raises a red Solo cup to you and exclaims sloppily: "Welcome to Tradewinds!"--Brantley Hargrove
2843 W. Davis St.
To the editor of the Dallas Observer: Per your request, I have chronicled my first strip-club trip ever. There was a stuffed large buffalo head and a leopard cave. The bar area, like some of the patrons' pants, was made of wood ...
11:19 p.m. You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which some have regarded with such evil forebodings. The strip club is a storied place! A stylish woman takes the stage, arriving to the floor through what I perceive to be a leopard cave, and thrashes her clothes from her body to Marilyn Manson. Will leopards join her? Is it Lion King-themed? These are real questions! A second woman loops like a GIF on an auxiliary stage. It's the circle of life. Boobie count: 4
11:22 p.m.: There's a large oval painting above the fireplace flanked by two antelope heads. Is it a Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres piece? No. Wait, maybe his 1914 oil painting, "Odalisique"? No, it can't be. It must be post-Modern. Maybe a Goya?
11:26 p.m. There is video poker here. Rad. Boobie count: 8
11:29 p.m. My God, the chairs are plush! The Lodge is a bubbling, velvety place. It doesn't feel angsty and timeless like a casino. There's a sense of warmth here. Like everyone's having a bit more ... fun here.
11:30 p.m. Incredibly serious-faced man is getting a lap dance in those plush chairs in front of his friends. Main stage performer looks as if she's going to trip.
11:34 p.m. The stuffed buffalo head is so unamused by all of this. The Lodge is interesting in that way. It doesn't have the tell-tale signs of isolation and loneliness that some friends had described in their strip club accounts. The Lodge feels like a cool bar that happens to have boobies behind it. Jameson on the rocks and a Long Island iced tea are the current drink orders. Boobie count: 17
11:39 p.m. Two men, who look like they just stepped out of the Admiral's Club at DFW Airport, step into the club and survey the log-cabin theme. They might as well have pagers clipped to their belts.
11:46 p.m. A man with a mullet and half-cocked smile walks out with his hand firmly pressed in his pocket. Boner cover-up 101, dude. Boobie count: 24
11:47 p.m. Personal observation: Some girls look like they should be riding clam shells; some girls look like they smell like clams.
11:48 p.m. Quiet, all of you, Shaved Head Guy in Strip Club approaches.
11:57 p.m. Just had a delightful discussion with a woman whose G-string is loaded with currency! She says thank you, sort of like I'd found her driver's license on the ground and returned it to her after she was half-way down the street. Boobie count: 34
12:01 a.m. One dancer is doing the around-the-world move, possibly to a song from Jock Jams. Time for another beer. Everyone seems kind and laughable here.
12:09 a.m. Boobie count: Perhaps 40, give or take.
12:11 a.m. She is taking a very long time to take off her clothing!
12:13 a.m. Three women enter the large wooden doors wearing green scrubs. They laugh profusely and then plop down at a circular table. The bartender wipes the lacquered wood clean and asks us for another round. He wraps a clean white napkin around a Shiner Bock. I smile.--Nick Rallo
10530 Spangler Road; the-lodge.com
The Yelp reviews would have you believe that on the smell spectrum, the Tin Room falls somewhere between chlorine and Bisquik, but tonight the bar is unscented. Which is a huge testament to their AC filters, because the room looks like it should smell pretty ripe.
There's an empty dance floor lined with half-naked men facing the crowd. Each one dances in place while holding either a drink or the back of his head. There are black lights everywhere, plus a DJ cage, and a dancer in a sailor hat who keeps shimmying up a pole using only his thighs. The patrons are hugging, rubbing and tipping the dancers, or they're in line to get drinks from the neon-nipple-ringed bartender.
I drink a lot of cheap beer while trying to figure out what the etiquette is here. A frumpy man in a polo puts some cash in the underwear of a dancer standing on a handrail, who then turns around and squats to let polo-man bury his face between his cheeks. But I can't make out how much money he gave so I'm not sure about the exchange rate.
I tip guys mostly as an excuse to ask questions. That's how I find out the dancer nearest to me makes between $200 and $400 a night.
"How many of the dancers are straight?" I ask.
"It depends," he says, still grinding his purple briefs against a pole.
"Well, how about tonight?"
That's more than I would have guessed. I peg the glasses-wearing hipster alone in the corner, dejectedly fist-pumping while wearing nothing but a jockstrap and sneakers, as one of the straight dancers. But I could be wrong.
There's an acrobatic Culkin-esque guy on the stage in front of me. By stage, I mean a two-foot square box with a pole. There's already a fistful of tips spread around in his jockstrap, and as I go to put in one of my own I pull his waistband out too far and knock out about seven or eight bucks.
"Oh crap," I say, "I'm sorry." He gathers up the money and I retreat to a bar table with my beer. He retreats to a back room to empty the tips out of his underwear and change into a fresh pair.--Luke Darby
2514 Hudnall St.; tinroom.net
A House Party in Denton
Few things are easier than finding your way to a house party in Denton: Just follow the fresh scent of patchouli, the path of discarded PBR cans and — oh yeah — the sea of twentysomethings lugging bottles of André Champagne and three-foot-tall hookahs down the street.
I'm following them now, in fact, uphill on Bernard Street, a major artery that empties on one end into a row of fraternity houses with gardens of Keystone Light debris and, on the other, a cluster of little rental homes, occupied by garage bands and artists, fire dancers and exchange students.
I heard a couple of local bands are putting on a house show, so I strapped on my most messaging messenger bag, exhaled my hottest breath onto my Ray-Bans and lugged a six-pack of Fat Tire — that's still cool, right? — up the hill for several minutes. Parking is always a nightmare here, so the nearby apartment complexes boasting fake towing-enforcement signs usually get hit hardest, leaving at least a 10-minute walk to the rentals.
On my voyage I see a couple longboard-toting boys and ask them, "Which house has the show?" They both raise an arm to point it out, and the long-haired blond one says, "We just came from there. The bands are still going. It's pretty sick," before hopping on his board and gliding down the hill. When I hit the front lawn I know exactly where I am, since every Denton rental has the same familiar air — you've partied there before, or slept on a couch and woken up to someone's tabby cat peeing on you.
Inside there's barely a cubic foot to claim your own, as college kids pour like ants through the cramped home. I make my way to the kitchen, where I discover a makeshift merch table for the experimental jazz-funk band playing in the living room. Stale pools of beer and empty bottles litter the table, and two scrawny guys in T-shirts wrap arms around each other and slur words to another guy in their wobbly triad.
"Dude, we had five cases of beer. That's over a hundred beers that are just gone," he says.
The solo-standing friend interjects, "I — I had a whole fucking bottle of tequila and I don't know WHAT happened to that when I looked down at it and it was gone."
"Did somebody steal it?" someone asks.
"Nah, nah, it's right here," he says, and pulls a bottle of José Cuervo from his backpack, unscrews the lid and passes the bottle. They all pretend not to feel the burn.
The lights are turned low and replaced by a black light that incubates the dehydrated crowd, which makes the kid in the corner with long dreadlocks, who appears to be tripping balls, trip even more balls. Every time I raise my camera to snap a photo of my surroundings, he ducks. I raise, he ducks. I raise, he ducks. It goes on like this for a while until someone bumps the lights with their shoulder and spotlights everyone in the room, including the couple making out in the corner of the kitchen. "Come oooooonnn!" someone yells as the lights quickly return to vampiric standards.
Half an hour passes and the band is still churning out jams, pausing briefly to let a roar of hoots and hollers fill the room. The crowd, which started off calm, possibly owing to its collective highness, has sailed this house-ship into a full-fledged dance party, where no one is safe from elbows, spills and a sweaty arm or two glossing against yours. By the end, I am happy to trudge home with a bloodied pinky finger, smudged glasses and a deep sense that the tradition of young people drinking in beat-up rental houses has been, and will be, preserved for years to come.--Rachel Watts
It's either very late or painfully early, and the girls in the neon-tinted line outside Cabaret Royale look like bored, glittery birds of paradise: big fuzzy legwarmers, teen-tiny neon lace bras and panties, expanses of glittery silver eyeshadow. As the line grows and grows, snaking backward into the gravel parking lot, they get in first, beckoned by the bouncers.
"I can get you in," one squat guy says to a girl with long brown hair, "but he's gotta wait." He gestures at her boyfriend. She decides to stay put.
We're at the beginning of a five-hour stretch when the strip club Cabaret Royale temporarily plays host to Eternal Afterhours, a BYOB 18-and-up pop-up venue popular with the raver crowd. Only the girls really bring the raver style: scanty clothing, neon bracelets, those enormous fuzzy legwarmers (looking for all the world like bits of a captured, shaved and dyed yeti). The boys look like boys, barely old enough to drive, in tank tops and scratchy tattoos, trying hard not to stare at the girls.
A sweaty, round-faced dude in a bandana and a black T-shirt approaches a knot of guys in line. Bro hugs are exchanged. The dude's T-shirt says, in various shades of neon, "I'M GETTING SHITFACED FUCKED HAMMERED STONED DRUNK TONIGHT." Everyone seems very happy to see him.
"What kinda pills you working with?" a little blond boy says to him, way too loud and way too enthused. A security guard patrolling the parking lot doesn't seem to hear. Bandana Man gives the blond kid a dark look and edges off.
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We inch forward in line, just behind a guy in a fuzzy blue hat with long hanging flaps, like a moldy lumberjack, until finally we're inside, where it's very dark, and blue lights flash everywhere, and there's a sound like a thousand angry vacuum cleaners emanating from the DJ booth. More girls in neon outfits dance in the cages recently vacated by the strippers, and on top of banquettes near the bar. A woman in a blue G-string and thick white athletic socks does a frantic-looking jig, next to a guy standing stock-still wearing sunglasses outlined in green LED lights. A few strippers still getting off work amble across the floor in G-strings and disappear up flights of stairs toward the dressing rooms.
The drinking rules are unclear. Hardly anybody's brought in booze, because hardly anybody looks old enough to drink. One group of guys brings in a cooler and they start cracking open beers; a waitress hurries over and asks them to put everything in a cup. They obey, looking baffled.
The best thing in the room, the best thing for miles, are the glow gloves. A few kids are circulating here and there, wearing pairs. They're studded with dozens of little LED lights, and when the wearers trace the air with their fingers, it forms beautiful patterns: infinity symbols, globes, double helices. They stand in front of slightly spaced-out-looking kids and trace invisible worlds for a few seconds. Then everybody hugs. The vacuum cleaners grind on.--Anna Merlan
10723 Composite Drive, inside Cabaret Royale, 3-8 a.m. Sundays; twitter.com/eternaldallas