Is it just me, or is the club scene in this city as busted as my nuts?
Let me rephrase that—I realize that in begging such a question, and given my reputation as the kind of guy who tends to get what he wants, when he wants it, that you could have taken me to mean that as the sort of rhetorical back-slapping that passes for nightlife reporting in this town. Yeah, not my MO. Unlike those meatballs, I wouldn’t say anything for love—though I would like to note that I don’t consider myself above debasing myself in a kinky way for the right person, or people if that’s where the bottle stops. I may be an alpha, but I’m not an a-hole, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes the day breaks before the bat bugs out.
I guess what I’m trying to say is—what happened to all the primo trim?
It used to be that all a guy had to do was dress sharp, drop a few bucks on some mid-shelf swill, run a tight floor routine and he’d be hauling in more sea-life than Paul Hogan. These days, I feel like I’m a g deep before I even get through the door and when I finally am in, the place looks so busted it’s like somebody’s dad just showed up.
This kind of thing just didn’t go down twenty or thirty years ago. It has to make you wonder what the hell happened to Gotham. I mean, I know the place has supposedly cleaned up its act—shit, last time I called Stanley I practically crapped the bat when I heard how much of this urban renewal business was being batrolled by yours truly—but last time I checked it wasn’t illegal in the United States of America to pull consensually with a piece or three of smoking talent.
Judging by tonight, though I can easily see how someone could come away with that impression.
Things started off promisingly enough. I had concluded the day by signing off on a deal that should spike Batcorp Holdings LLC’s quarterly juice to such an insane level that even I might not be able to drink it all away. After a hot workout, an icy shower and a hurried protein crush a la half a dozen raw quail eggs and a big hunk of cold Delmonico consumed standing, I was ready to hop into my suit and submit to the will of the night. (A quick sidenote to anyone who wants to perform his best, take it from an old ball player that you can do no finer than the speckled sex-bomb that is the egg of a quail bird. Most guys think one or two is plenty for your average all nighter, but for those of us who shoulder, shall we say, a heavier load, consider upping the dose. I guarantee you nobody’s going home disappointed. Just remember that Batman’s not your average Joe six-pack—more of a Niner if you’re picking up my sticks—and what works for him might mean accelerated heart-rate and hypertension for you.)
My first stop was Le Chauve Noveau, a new spot in the heart of downtown that had already earned a reputation for its forward-thinking aesthetic, dizzying array of exotic beverages, and searing hot clientele despite the fact that it had only been open for a few hours.
I should have known something was off when I rolled up in the batwagon and didn’t have a dozen valets swarming my window for the chance to cup my keys. In fact, I was starting to think that the whole thing was some big joke when I noticed this lanky, gangly guy in a loose vest eyeing me with something a little too far from obeisance to fit my tastes.
“How’s it going, champ?” I shouted to him, making sure there was enough sandpaper in my tone to whip his nuts a little but still appear basically friendly.
As he slowly sidled over, I marveled at his peculiar combination of a slouching demeanor and smug air of self-satisfaction. It was almost as if he considered the ridiculous excuse for a push-broom mustache scrawled haphazardly across his face a nice compliment to the aforementioned vest, which draped with clown-like slackness over a puffy white blouse that did little to conceal the puffy, white, skinny/fat body underneath from my penetrating batvision.
“Can I help you?” he asked, like it was some sort of sarcastic joke.
I told him that it would be a long time before I needed to ask for help from somebody who looked and dressed like a reject from Circus Smirkus.
Unsurprisingly, he was too lily to take a swing at me. Of course, that would have been the stupidest thing for him to have done, but at least I would have respected him for it. He didn’t even try to stare me down, either, just pulled a weasel face and sucked his teeth.
I asked him if he worked with animals because there was obviously a lot of shit in his ears, and what do you know if the bastard didn’t start to walk away right there.
I would’ve gotten out and pounded him but didn’t much feel like rumpling my suit before my night had even started, especially for such a pencil-ass like this customer. So, I settled for popping her right into five and tearing back into traffic after a wide detour over the curb that brought me so close to that pimple-faced brat that the sheer velocity of my car-isma wiped his snide smirk and piddling facial hair clean off. Turns out I have as much use for Le Chauve Noveau as that valet does for looking his best. Cross my name of the guest list, guys—your loss.
The whole thing had thrown me and my core temperature was way above where it should have been at that hour, so I decided to fight fire with fire and stop in at an old standby where I knew the drinks would be hard and the bodies harder.
Sweatshop is the kind of place you go if you’re worked up and ready to work it out the only way its rocksteady regulars and turtlewaxed bar staff know how—through a punishing gauntlet of rushed shots, earsplitting techno-ise and savage, floor-wide grinding. If you’re not ready and really pissed off, you better not even step foot through the door because you will get pulled in and you will get pulped by the endless barrage of pistoning butts, pecs, and crotches that is the wall-to-wall 24/7 all male slamdance we call Sweatshop.
Given my expectations, you can imagine how fervently I told myself to go fuck myself when, upon rolling up, I discovered that the place was being fumigated. Guess somebody in class had a case of the lice.
Not knowing exactly what to do, I decided to take a drive through the post-industrial wasteland that is East Gotham. For some reason I always found that its looming, bombed-out shells of buildings and general sense of gloomy desolation had a calming effect on me. Guess it goes to show that you can take the batman out of the cave, but you can’t take the cave out of the batman.
As I rolled on, vainly hoping that I’d find some appealing place to perch and maybe a nice streetshark to share it with, I suddenly noticed the intoxicating iridescent gleam of neon lights and heard the familiar pound of a truly rump-shaking beat coming from the upper story of what I had assumed, moments before, to be yet another vacant husk of a warehouse.
I had read numerous articles in Vice magazine about the so-called “rave” culture that was slowly but surely transforming these decaying urban spaces into temporary, autonomous “pARTY Zones”—places where the drugs were cheap and the love free. Intrigued, I immediately parked, got out and strode up to the door, only to find that an old bum stood blocking the entrance.
“Hey there, gramps,” I hailed him in a polite but firm tone. “How’s the party?”
He turned to me and for the first time I understood what people meant when they talked about that thousand-yard stare thing. My soul had been penetrated before a few times, so I knew what it felt like, and this was it.
Then, he opened his mouth.
“I’ve been standing here for years,” he said, “a lifetime. I could stand a lifetime more before they opened the door. And then, still, I would have to ride the freight elevator up six levels before I reached the threshold of your party. All I think of is your party—and still, I do not know the meaning of your party.”
He smiled. His teeth were magnificent.
The night was done. My nuts were busted.
Seth Blake is a writer from New Hampshire.