Swelter

Somehow, the punch going out of the Beach last Saturday night. Plenty of places open -- the Clevelander Hotel, The Palace, The Whiskey -- but nothing really happening. The Deuce fairly packed, with the obligatory drag queen, assorted riffraff, locals. Paragon setting up the lobby area as a mini-disco, dark bathrooms, the standard "everybody's free" dance music, donation boxes for hurricane relief victims. The new, rather nifty-looking 11th Street Diner on Washington Avenue, which had been serving free food throughout hurricane week, having a small, private party for some of the people who had helped with construction: Jersey John Trumpler, Robert Stanley, Vincent Guardino. Co-owner Ray Schnitzer having his official debut ceremonies ruined by the hurricane, opening September 1 instead. Barrio, cleverly hosting a surreptitious after-hours party the Thursday before in the back room, functioning pretty well until the police arrive promptly at 11:00 p.m. The usual muttering, along the order of, "Next they'll be writing tickets for happiness." Out on the streets, past a boy wearing a "Hurricane Andrew: The 18 Billion Dollar Blow Job" T-shirt and some poor soul desperately seeking a club. Every night's a party, where the fun never ends. For one fleeting moment, an insane impulse to mobilize the Disney brigade and let them clean up the whole mess.

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