Tight black mini-skirts with thick-soled clown shoes,
bright red matte lipstick from Ricky’s,
hoops in our ears as big as bicycle spokes
hair slicked back, baby backpacks filled with Marlboro Lights and Wrigley’s wrappers.
In the days of the copper token with the Y,
we huddled in front of the velvet ropes, pushing our friend with high cheekbones to the front,
The one with braces to the back.
$5 cover that’s the highest we’d go
A quick pat down, free drink tickets from the bouncer on the down low.
First ones there, open bar Sticky Mike’s 10-11,
I’ve had it down in my Filofax for a week.
Velour couches, an industrial cafeteria table and no fire exits.
a room with red light bulbs
bathroom stalls with busted locks.
Your girl is holding the door shut with one hand and refreshing her lipstick with the other;
“Oh shit, that’s my jam!” running out to the dance floor,
“The Bridge Is Over, The Bridge Is Over, Biddy-bye-bye...,”
as you form a pile with your shearling coats in the center of your dance circle.
Only amateurs check their coats at $5 clubs
you never know who might be rummaging through that broom closet they call coat check,
you never know when you’ll have to be out because
A) your girl had one too many tequila shots
B) her man who thinks she’s out seeing Friday the 13th unexpectedly shows up
or C) you hear a pa-pa-pa in the air.
You always order vodka straight up at open-bar
cause the mixed drinks are watered down.
You always situate your posse near a group of guys who look like they can and will buy you drinks,
but dance with the cuties that you know can’t and won’t.
When you’ve had enough you tap your friend for the bathroom escape.
You’ll be right back Mr. “Why-are-you-dancing-in-a-triple-goose down-jacket, when it’s 90 degrees in here?”
He scribbles a telephone #, a pager #, his grandmother’s # where he stays a lot, on the back of a Soul Kitchen flyer, or your old receipt from The Village Cobbler.
sometimes the # ends up on the cab floor on the way home,
sometimes it’s stuffed in your wallet
and on a rare occasion push pinned up on your bulletin board.
It’s 4 AM, there’s always the draggy friend who wants to leave early.
She didn’t meet a guy and she’s sulking on the couch near the bathroom while you say, “Right after this song, I promise.”
Jackpot night is when you meet a guy crew that’s equal in number to your girl crew,
and even if they’re all not cute they buy all your friend’s drinks, drinks, drinks, and ding, ding, ding! have enough weed, weed, weed to pass around.
They roll fat blunts the size of baseball bats
and if you’re lucky enough to be at Nell’s they order Moet in an ice bucket.
Time to go…
and you realize two of them have fat Jeeps and they offer to drive each and every one of your friends to their doorsteps.
The scent of coconut air-freshener permeates the air and “Outstanding” streams from surrounding speakers.
It’s the best night you’ve had in sooooooo long,
you danced for like two hours straight and had drink after drink, placed in your sweaty palm.
Now resting on leather interior…
A diner???? Yes! Yes! Yes! We all have munchies!
23rd and 9th, open 24- 7.
We roll up at 5AM,
It’s packed with clubheads and the occasional strange man with a baseball cap, the New York Times and his dog tied up to a meter outside.
Pancakes, cheeseburgers, fries, grilled Swiss on rye, bagels and cream cheese, eggs cooked every style.
You thought the guy you danced with was cute until he orders veal parmesan from a place that has paper placemats with diagrams of cocktails such as a Sloe-Gin-Fizz or a Pink Lady.
Your girlfriend doesn’t finish even half her burger. She’s stuffed.
Skinny bitch, you think and put napkins on your plate to hide the emptiness of yours,
Toothpicks and powdery mints fisted into your purse, now you’re really ready for bed.
The Jeep silent from food coma, the sun coming up,
the busboys running up the N station stairs, bleary eyed yet quick, ready to stock wait stations with ice and fresh milk for the breakfast rush.
Your friend from Queens is staying over.
You’re giggling because she has to pee so bad and you can’t find the right key for the front door.
You’re inside, she clip-clops too loudly in her clogs to the bathroom.
“Shhhhhhh!” your mother turns restlessly on squeaky springs.
You guide your friend through the pitch black hallway to your room. You know every curve and possible toe-stubber like Helen Keller.
Peeling off smoke-saturated black clothes, she asks for a extra-big t-shirt and a hair scrunchie.
Contemplating whether you have the energy to wash your face,
Move over, she’s hogging up your side of the bed,
you say goodnight and dream of what you will wear tomorrow night.
The first club I can remember going was “The World”. Off Ave D. This is when the lower east side was shady. The best night was Wednesday night. Hip Hop and Reggae Night. The guy who worked the door wore a coat composed of white feathers, black eyeliner, and a scowl. When he went inside he was replaced by a skinny chick with a Kate moss face, a clipboard and a cigarette that she smoked out of a flapper- like elongated cigarette holder. Seriously. I can’t believe I thought this looked cool but I’ll be damned if this girl couldn’t pull that shit off.
The door duo gazed out over the shivering crowd, and would point to people in the crowd deemed interesting or beautiful enough to get in.
Luckily my crew had our secret weapon. Myra Nikona.
Myra was the most beautiful, freak of nature girl I’d ever met.
An exotic blend of Japanese, Black and White, she clocked in at about 5’10 with high cheekbones, full lips, jet black hair, and presence so sharp she could cut you with one glare of those perfectly spaced cat-like eyes.
Gay men, straight men, straight women, lesbians all melted wicked witch style upon laying eyes on her. Like Sade but with attitude and an ass. She stood in her brown shearling, looking like she simply fell out of the pages of Elle Magazine. It would be enough if Myra was simply beautiful but was she was as equally fierce and vivacious. She’d could beat down a dude if she had to and just be the cool bug out chick when need be.
We did not need to explain the drill to Myra.
When we approached the velvet ropes Myra stood in front our posse until she was quickly noticed and waved over. “How many?” they’d ask and we’d strut our way past crews of guys in bubble coats and a few corny private school chicks who thought they’d try their luck. On a generous day Myra would let some boys get in with us.
Crews of boys never got in alone.
Once inside Myra didn’t need to take care of us anymore. We were a crew that could pretty much hold our own. We had every flavor. Myra our exotic goddess, my girl Ray who was another tall beautiful mixed goddess with green eyes, Valerie another more curvy girl Puerto Rican girl,
and me… the chubby Jewish girl with braces.
But what also made us stand out the most is that we could hang. Hard. Unlike other crews of girls that got fucked up on some pussy shit like a Seabreeze, we could drink and smoke as much as any male crew.
The more underground clubs like Milky Way or Hotel Amazon were mostly in abandoned ground floor school lunchrooms or gyms. Sometimes they had live performances with up and coming hip-hop groups. These groups included Queen Latifah when she had the two backup dancers the" Safari Sisters" and Third Bass.
We went out every Friday and Saturday night without fail even when we were enrolled in early Sunday morning SAT courses. Hung over with remnants of black liner on our lids Ray and I sat glazed among peers who were thinking ahead about scores and college.
This was when the real differences between the different public school students came to light.
The Stuyvesant High School kids were the natural geniuses. They could rock a standardized test tripping on acid. Data just sunk into their pores like those speed-readers in the Guinness Book Of World Records. They are now scientists and authors of award winning blogs about global warming.
Bronx Science kids were super smart with a conscience. They partied but they had to work hard for their grades. They possessed this thing I knew nothing of called :priorities. They went out only on weekends, and stayed home Sunday afternoons to study and write college essays, rather than eat chicken Lo Mien and puff blunts in Chinatown watching King Fu flicks.
LaGuardia and Humanities kids were pretty much neck and neck in terms of getting completely getting fucked up and pushing the boundaries. We all had the potential to do really well, but lacked discipline.
But Humanities? They really went the extra mile. They were already club promoters and shit at 16.
And I don’t think many of us saw having the traditional go away and live in a dorm story. Why? There was so much right here in NYC. But there was more than Clubs keeping me in NYC.
You see I didn’t even know if I wanted to go to college. In my senior year upon visting colleges with my mom, I went to visit University of Maryland and noticed all the white people sat at one table, and all the black people at another. So wack! Ray said I should apply to Howard, but my Mom said, “There are some limits, Vanessa.”