By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
La reina de la noche, the queen of nightlife, is out there somewhere. In the shadows just around the corner from the long lines, noisy clubs, and pompous velvet ropes, she blossoms like an unexpected rose in the barren desert in the hours between 12:00 and 5:00 a.m. Just as suddenly she disappears, before the trampling feet of transparent frippery pummel her. She has eluded us since we were old enough to gain entrance to the 18-to-come/21-to-swallow establishments that agitated our fantasies of adulthood. Party all night and sleep all day, right?
Since entering the glamour world we have only heard of her like some mythical entity. Arriving fashionably late to functions and missing her by mere moments. We know that she has been here, but instead we end up repeatedly finding a Dante's Inferno sodden in bad music and dirty rolls.
We go tonight rummaging through the maze of plastic -- money, people, and breasts -- for her beautiful petals. Holding to the hope that a symbol of purity and decency can be found in the crevices of some dark liquor-spewing hole. The perfect evening calls to us like a siren.
Clubbed, having recently set out to reclaim what is left of his essence and soul, makes his rounds sans companions on a Friday evening to patronize small gatherings and altogether avoiding novice nightcrawlers. The weekend warriors are part of the food chain, necessary to complete the formation of a thriving club social caste system, but too much of a bad thing can get worse, so going where no one knows your name offers a timely reprieve. The Gables Pub will do.
It's a scene as familiar as the movies -- at least the ones full of University of Miamikids. The bartender, Clay, is plucked from any one of your favorite sitcoms about ... well, bars. Nothing too exciting going on here. It's safe to say that our nightlife flower is absent on this night, but the atmosphere is as pure as it can get. The green and orange frat boys chug down pitchers and the twentysomething dames cuddle together like ol' gossip hens. No reina de la noche, but no harm either in sticking around and shooting some pool with the neighborhood boys.
Clubbed's strange presence goes unnoticed like a lone trucker at a pit stop in Shreveport looking for the head. "Right over there, fella. You been driving long?" Yes. The endless highway that leads into the chasm of this empty existence keeps racing those white lines on the road toward me faster and faster. Here in Pleasantville they may not understand such ramblings. Too hypnotized by the Budweiser streamers that decorate the walls. But there is peace here.
Peace isn't on the checklist tonight, however. Clubbed moves on down the Route 66 of the "social activities or entertainment available or pursued in the evening" to catch a glimpse -- if only a fleeting one -- of the queen. Most of the people you run into will lie just to make you envious. They will claim that they drank from the same glass as the night-blooming beauty while dancing the nocturnal ballet in bliss's grasp. When you are not present, you will always have missed "the best party ever." The truth is they were just wasted and ended up in a heavy-petting session with some heavily siliconed being of indeterminate gender. That date somewhere in between Lorraine from Kendall and the thin Puerto Rican kid at the White Party. Whoever "she" was, "she" was not la reina de la noche. Not even close. No matter how many Mind Eraser shots you slurp.
The cool winter air that has been tickling the thongs lately is perfect for finding her. That magic moment has to be out there. The right mix of fresh Northern blood and tourists from around the world looking to escape the cooler climates make for ideal conditions that will allow a wonderful instant to spring up from this nothingness. Sexual fantasies, vaguely familiar people, and lots of alcohol tend to work, but we digress again. We needn't consider the same old same old when looking for (insert harps and strings here) our "rose."
The music resonating from inside Rain suggests that we may be closing in on something. What? We are not sure, but there is shining hope. Eighties diva Shannon sings "Give Me Tonight" and it pumps as the soundtrack for our episode of Please Stop the Madness And Let Me Get Off. Scattered throughout the nightclub are various familiar faces -- Ingrid Casares (former Madonn -- oh, forget it), Guru (Keith Elam) of the rap group Gang Starr, and ex-Canes basketball star Johnny Hemsley -- all perhaps with the same quest in mind. Craig Stevens and Ducis Rodgers of the tabloid news station WSVN are on hand as well. The newsmen could be out to get the big scoop on our illusive desert flower. A lead story could be in progress! The cameras must be near!
A moment of internal glee follows but is short-lived when the DJ goes into a mix of Now That's What I Call Music! - Volume 10selections. Entertaining enough and echoing the selections of the new 103.5 (WMGE-FM), but for now we must continue our search. The night is getting older and we fear that our time may be closing. Something is still out there.
Head over to Wednesday night at the Rose Bar in the Delano to see if her petals are unfurling. Party men Maxwell Blandford and Ernesto "the fabulous" Arambatzis are entertaining their distinguished guests: Rudolf Pieper, Erica Freshman, Rolly Aspuru, George Slover, Alicia Rodriquez, et al. Blandford, marketing and music director for Level, can barely contain his excitement over Level's upcoming production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
"We're getting calls from all these parents who think it's a children's story," Blandford pauses for effect, "but I think they are going to be in for a surprise when they see this inch."
To say the least.
Elinor J. Pinczes's Inchworm and a Half and John Cameron Mitchell's musical about a botched sex-change surgery don't have much in common except for -- well -- nothing. But hey, the looks on the soccer moms' faces should be priceless. Maybe our flower can be found there in their shocked and petrified gazes.
On this night we have the dancing throngs of beach locals, models, and big-spending Herbs to comfort us as we quietly seek that special moment. The energy here is festive, but somehow still yielding and unhurried. The tribulations of nightlife and misgivings about the existence of la reina de la noche slowly begin to sink in, causing all hope to wilt. And with rumps-a-shaking to Missy Elliott's "Work It" (yes, she does say "Ra ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta" as a lyric), Clubbed soon realizes that even in the most typical of gatherings, there is warmth, affability, and fun to be found. In short, every night offers its own flower in the desert. But that doesn't mean that we have to be happy about it. Being a cynic is so much more fun.