The singular capacity of nightlife to provide stupendous little moments came to us recently at the opening festivities for Tony Chan's Water Club, a wondrous Louis Canales production starring the oddest assortment of people imaginable. Inside the main dining room, the extra-special guests - Wimbish Realtor Esther Percal, free-lance writer Glenn Albin, an MTV DJ, a New York publicist, and a contingent that represented the triumph of form over substance - sat through a longish but very tasty dinner, trying to deflect the depressing realization that they were really nothing but a collection of open-for-the-evening, vaguely useful types who might one day be somehow helpful to the restaurant. Somewhere there must be a place where fabulous people actually pay for dinner.
Outside, in the bar area, the buffet crowd - which sometimes seemed indistinguishable from the A-guests - grew ever more feverish, spilling out all over. There were pretty boys in matching Spandex outfits, promoters, journalists, valid-looking men, belly dancers, the odds and ends of what constitutes society. Slipping daintily through the mad press, the waitresses - all dolled up in hot pants and looking rather like Red Guard youth at a political rally - tended to the gang's ever-growing hunger for more food, drink, and sensation.
It was nice enough, though. Esther Percal thought she recognized us, although, unfortunately, our usual rounds do not include stops at the Wimbish office. Richard Garcia of the Butter Club, a taller ethnic version of actor Christian Slater, proved to be amiable enough: "I'm not worried about it - when we open, we open." Hal Rubinstein, the very pleasant nightlife reporter for The New Yorker, talked about the nightmare of other writers: "This magazine did this thing on me, I guess they wanted to be nasty, but they just made me sound boring. The worst thing they said is that I show up late at screenings. One of my friends told me that if they'd wanted real dirt, they could have just called him."
The conversation touched on this and that, and then focused on an impassioned discussion of why it's important not to take notes: "It just makes people uncomfortable, an invasion of privacy.... People won't really talk if you're taking notes.... It seriously constrains the process of what we do." Having gone through the whole Journalism 101 number, we found this unbelievably newsworthy, and could barely contain an urge to start writing everything down.
Once free of the censure of our peers, it was time to do the I-am-a-camera thing at other places. Semper's, that same night, was relatively sedate, the overdone neighborhood bar as Caligula's Playhouse: a blackjack table, karioke interpretative dancing, loud dance music, and a woman lost in the terminal stages of a debilitating addiction to the attentions of homosexuals: "I'm just a single girl, looking for love, surrounded by gay companions."
At Warsaw we turned down a gay companion's kind offer of a Lite beer, and after a few moments of Lite talk, knocked around the Beach a while. Gay South Beach was, as usual, brimming with news. "District," the new Bone Boyz one-nighter at Warsaw. The fall of Splash. The upcoming special South Beach edition of Genre magazine, featuring profiles of, among other people, Ivan Bernstein of ACT-UP and Miami Beach policeman Ambrose Sims. Wire's Andrew Delaplaine was his usual perky self, bent on yet another perky political mission - getting Abe Hirschfeld elected, an enterprise that, thank God, was never accomplished: "Just think of all the national press we'll get for actually electing somebody that outrageous. It'll be chaos. All the yentas up in North Beach will be distracted with the commotion, and we'll be able to slip the referendum for the secession of South Beach through. This whole area will be Queen City."
All those agendas, all those manifestoes, put us in the mood for good clean simple fun. Despite our resolve to be slightly more principled, we ingratiated ourselves to a series of door thugs - a class of people that, under normal circumstances, we wouldn't have in our home - and madly club-hopped. It used to be that a party meant a basic human-values lovefest: People actually wanted you to come, you liked them, everybody wanted to share their warmth and good fellowship. Now a good party consists of a club with the least number of close friends inside and the greatest level of ill will, entailing the forcing of one's persona on a reluctant, sometimes positively hostile, audience. As Dean Edward Smith of Antenna has defined the matter: "There's a lot of myth-making involved in clubs." And the biggest myth is that there's always something better in the next club.
An ordinary Saturday-night scene outside the Cameo was young, packed, an orgiastic frenzy full of young heteros in love: "I'm not that kind of girl, it's dangerous to do things like that.... Did you want to talk to me, buddy, huh, did you?" A young Suzy Creamcheese, the most perfect little lamb chop, was hustled by some sleazy Rasta ("I normally don't do this kind of thing.... What kind of thing is that?") and heartbreakingly enough, ran off with him. There must have been something in the air.
At Zubar, we ran into the ever-fab Norma Jean Abraham ("Honey, I don't know what's going on with these clubs - they're all crazy"). By then, however, it was too late to feel upbeat about the nuttiness of nightlife. At 4:30 in the morning all clubs tend to feel like bleak terror domes. The feast of Halloween, a ritual celebrated with the fervor and intensity of carnival, was over, and life was aftermath. We even thought, for a brief moment, that Charlie Frissell of the Cameo might be right about the beloved stomping grounds: "The Beach is oversaturated, not as hip as it was. This year is just a repeat of last year. You got Deco's, that looming monster. The Synagogue up on Fifteenth. I don't know, that might be interesting if it ever gets going. But really, there's nothing new."
Actually, there was something new. Last weekend's long-awaited Hippodrome opening festivities - the Friday-night press party and debut, the Sunday-night gay party "Big Sundays at Hippodrome," coordinated by Robert Vickery and Bill Mayer, featuring X-rated house-music queen Liz Torres. And in the not-so-new category, the Boomerang party for the "Thunder on the Beach" motorcycle round-up. Bikers. Hip orthodontist bikers. Models. Homosexual high jinks. Truly advanced club craziness. What a town.