Sometimes, you just have one of those days when you see the beauty and the horror of life all at the same time. 😀 Here’s how my evening went in New York City last night.. THURSDAY night. I’m exhausted already, and the weekend doesn’t even start until TONIGHT! 😀
I wasn’t supposed to go out last night. Thanks to Facebook’s style of reporting the dates of events, I had misread an event ending at “Midnight on Friday” as BEING on Friday as opposed to being on THURSDAY and ending after 11:59 on Thursday night. However.. I had made plans to return my friend’s camera to him on Wednesday, because another friend of mine had told me she wanted to hang out and then completely flaked on me. This meant that I didn’t give him his camera at all on Wednesday, because my reason for going downtown evaporated.
So I made plans to give him his camera on Thursday evening, but due to those plans falling apart, I decided to ask him where he was going to be later that evening, to which he replied that he was going to be at a mutual friend’s birthday party.. About which I was wondering “How the hell is he going to that party tonight, when it’s on FRIDAY night?”.. So, Lo and Behold.. I checked Facebook and my friend’s party (actually, my friends’ party, since it was a dual-birthday event) was actually on Thursday and not Friday.
This was a good thing and a bad thing. It was bad because I wasn’t prepared to go partying tonight. It was good because since I had already been getting ready to go downtown earlier to return my friend’s camera, it only took me a few minutes’ more maintenance to be party-ready.
So I break out around 8pm and get the subway downtown without incident… oh.. So the way things are in NYC, there are trendy areas and not-trendy areas. Normally, if you know you want to throw a party and invite a bunch of people (in my case, “a bunch” would equal around 60), you look for a dive bar.. You look for somewhere where nobody actually wants to go on a Thursday night, so that a) it’s not noisy and you can hear people talk, b) it’s not crowded, so you can get to your other friends as well as THE BAR!!! and c) it’s not prohibitively expensive or has some kind of dress code that will keep your friends from getting in since they normally look bummy and why should they dress up to come to your birthday party?
So when I had checked the Facebook invite, the location was just about all the way West in Manhattan and just about all the way South = The Meat Packing District = very trendy. Off the bat, I was like oh-kayyyyyy.. and I was expecting to see the type of people that I saw. I was completely willing to endure this to go see my friends for their birthday, but under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have set foot in that part of town.
Here’s the problem with real estate in Manhattan, NYC.. If one place becomes popular, for dining, drinking, shopping, whatever.. Fine. If two or three become popular, fine. Once an entire area becomes popular, people get greedy and stupid. As soon as they find out that people have given them the seal of approval and they start getting traffic into their establishments, they start changing rules. You can’t get in without a collared shirt (for guys). You can’t get in unless you look a certain way. You might have to stand on a long line to get in. There might not be a line at all, but you have to stand in a crowd and hope that the doorman (I refuse to call these people “Bouncers” who are only going to scream into their headsets for help if someone bum-rushes the front door) SELECTS YOU to enter their establishment.
You might have to wait on line while people that the doorman knows walk right in, having just freshly stepped out of a cab 12 seconds ago. You may have to wait on line while people bribe the doorman with handshakes with palmed money exchanges so they can get 12 people in, causing the line to stall until another 12 people exit the establishment.. providing that more bribes haven’t been offered.
This causes the people that go to these areas and deal with this nonsense to be certain types of people. It becomes a game of “I’m important and you’re not”. I’m important because I can walk right in. You’re not important because you have to wait on line. I’m important because I’m an attractive and well-dressed female. You’re not important because you’re a guy trying to pull chicks.. oh.. I forgot a couple.. You can’t get in because you don’t have any chicks with you. That’s historically happened to my friends and I that doormen will tell you to your face that they’re not allowing “single guys” into the bar/club. Once that happened a couple of times, we got hip to meeting girls in the street so they could come with us to the bar. There’s also “You can’t get in unless you’re buying bottles or a table”.
“Bottle Service” is this elaborate scam that someone cooked up. What they do is they tell you that there’s no more room for regular customers and the only way you can get in is by buying a bottle or buying a table, which normally consists of several bottles. The reason they want you to buy this service is that they’ve put an extreme markup on the alcohol they’re selling you. The same bottle of vodka you can buy in the store for $20 costs you maybe $80 in the club. The same bottle of champagne that you can buy for a fraction of the price in a store might be $150 or $200 or WHO KNOWS how much.
So it’s a double-scam. The first scam is to relieve you of your money. The second scam is to keep people out of your club unless they agree to these exorbitant prices. You win both ways. You can’t be said to be discriminating because everyone who agrees to pay has a chance to get in. Everyone who gets in pays you tons of money over the actual worth of the alcohol you’re selling them.
Once you experience this, you either say “$&%^ THESE PEOPLE!” or you come back for more. That’s why I was dreading going to The Meat Packing District, because it’s densely populated with people that are coming back for more. They like the game. They like being able to say that they spent $150 on a bottle of champagne. They like being able to say that they bribed a doorman. They also like interacting with OTHER PEOPLE who enjoy this kind of stuff. That’s another problem I have with the area.. The chicks are often fine as hell, because they need to be if they’re going to get a guy to buy their drinks, but they’re there to play the game and I’m not.
So anyway, I get to this area without incident. As soon as I get far enough West, the people change from local Manhattan residents to people strictly enjoying the NYC Nightlife. Who knows where these people come from, but they all alight on this one area to see and be seen. So I get to the bar, I thought. The bar was in a hotel. I walk towards the door and I see that there’s a doorman asking people if they’re there for dinner or drinks. I tell him I’m looking for the beer garden, and he tells me it’s on the corner. I’m like “Thanks”, and I head for the corner.
I wasn’t prepared to see a line to get into a BEER GARDEN, but “When in Rome”, right? Off the bat, I’m thinking “This was a really dumb idea, having a birthday party in a place where people are going to have to wait on a line (plus regulars, plus bribery) to get in. On top of that, the way it was looking, they might have been rejecting people for style of dress, which I had guarded against by bringing a collared, long-sleeve shirt, but you never know. Worst-Case Scenario, I was going to have to text my friends to come outside and get me once I got to the front and the shenanigans started.
So I’m waiting on line, and it barely inches forward every 5 minutes or so. Barely. There are a couple of fine chicks in front of me babbling about nothing.. Shopping or something. There are some people behind me babbling about something. I’m not into smalltalk, personally. I can’t deal with it. I just don’t give a #%$&. I need to be doing something constructive with my time or I’m not going to be saying anything at all. Eventually, the guys in front of the girls in front of me start up a conversation with them by going “You’re not from New York, are you?”. hahaha That was very cute, and I’m sure they read that somewhere, except *I* knew that THEY weren’t from here either, because none of us call NYC “New York”. New York is a state. NYC is a city. More importantly, Manhattan is a borough. Asking a gal if she’s from New York means nothing at all, because she could be from the sticks upstate, from a family area in Queens or a dot-commer that lives in Manhattan.. Besides, with those obvious Jersey accents, they CLEARLY weren’t from Manhattan. It was still a good intro though and the guys got conversation as the line inched forwards.
Meanwhile, here come the regulars. It’s so funny how you can see them coming. You see how self-important the person feels that’s leading the group to the promised land. You can tell how much he’s hyped up the place and his friends are looking forward to walking right in and enjoying themselves. You watch these people allllll they way until they get too close to the velvet rope and realize that the doorman isn’t unlatching it yet. Their eyes sink and they start wondering what’s happening. You don’t have to be in the front to understand the conversation. 😀 The leader is shocked and embarrassed that this doorman that always lets them right in is telling them to get on line with everyone else. Then you see them appealing to friendship. No dice. Then you see them saying that they have six people with them and are going to spend a lot of money. No dice. This is where you tell who are the “ballers, shot-callers”. The ballers huddle up and decide how much they’re willing to bribe the doorman to get in. Everyone else turns a little red and starts leading their group to the next best place, meanwhile saying as loudly as possible how this particular place isn’t “worth” standing in line at, etc, etc, then they disappear down the block, never to be seen again.
So I finally get near the front and a homegirl of mine shows up and gives me a hug. That’s how you play it off in NYC like you’ve been waiting for this person the entire time, in case the people behind you try to complain that someone just skipped the line. We’re juuuuuust about to get in this place that I’ve been waiting about a half hour (blogging on my g1 the whole time) to get in, when she notices from Twitter on her iPhone that the birthday boy has announced that the party was moved down the block. I initially told her to go check and text me if that was the case, but he showed up in person to see who was waiting on the line, so that’s why I was willing to leave. It was kind of funny watching people watch our conversation. They had been standing on line just as long as we were, and were kind of astonished at the conversation we were having. I guess they thought that we cared about this establishment, which has the same alcohol as everyone else does, when, in fact, we were there to see our friends for their birthday and as soon as we figured out they were somewhere else, we skated.
So we go to the next bar, which is more laid out like a frat bar. Large screen television with the game playing on it. Lots of loud people cheering over top of the loud music. It just looked like the kind of place where a lot of beer is spilled on the floor by sloppy, drunk people. Nice place though. So we go to the roof, and there’s everyone we wanted to see. Unfortunately, this place was really crowded also, for the reason I stated earlier. It’s one of those places that didn’t have a line and DID have alcohol, so it was an overflow location. This was more my speed because it had regular chicks in it. Unfortunately, due to how crowded and loud it was, I ended up trying to text my friends to come see me when they were close enough that I could have hit them with a paper plane. I actually started texting friends that were STANDING NEXT TO OTHER FRIENDS to see if I could get them to send people over.
Eventually, someone had the good idea to move our group to an empty location. We went back past the hotel/bar with the line in front of it (still), and I saw a friend of mine waiting on line. I asked her if she was looking for the birthday party and she wasn’t. She was heading to meet other friends that were actually inside. My group crossed the street and entered this Thai food place that had an empty upstairs section. THIS is where the party should have been from the beginning! 😀 Lots of space, not very loud music, people could sit down or socialize and meet each other. Easy access to the bar as well as to the birthday boy and girl. So that part was fun and useful and I met people that I’ve followed online, via Social Media, but had never met IRL (in real life) or f2f (face to face), so, up until that point, that was the totally best part of the evening! 😀
So then, someone decided to move it back across the street to the same doorway that I had first approached with the doorman asking people if they were there for dinner. When we get there, there’s some kind of holdup at the door. Knowing this area, it could have been ANYTHING. Still too crowded inside to seat our party, people not dressed a certain way, who knows? So I get closer, and there’s this drunk guy arguing with two bouncers for the place. These were actual bouncers. Like I said earlier, the doorman was nowhere to be seen. 😀 Bouncers are dressed differently from doormen because they might have to get their hands dirty. No point in fighting people in a suit and shoes. So this is really funny, because the drunk guy gets off a couple of choice snaps about the fat bouncer, saying something about weight watchers or Jenny Craig (this guy was CLEARLY off his rocker, drunk out of his mind, and if he had been in a different part of town would have been beaten up for 1/8 of the stuff he said to these guys). So that was that for that location. Our group was rustled out of there and several blocks down the street to a different establishment.
Meanwhile, this whole time, I’ve been texting and updating my Social Media location-based apps, trying to catch up with my homegirls that live in that area. There are so many bars in NYC that you can be within six blocks of a friend and never run into each other unless you carefully plan it. While my group was moving bar to bar, their group was moving through different bars nearby. Under normal circumstances, I would have skated and gone to see them, but I wanted to hang out for the birthday festivities, so I hung with those ’till the end….
So we arrive at the next place and it’s too crowded with people dancing, so someone that knows the neighborhood ushers us to yet ANOTHER location. This spot was suspicious from the giddyap. We had walked so far that we were no longer in the touristy area. This was a REAL dive bar. It was also about 1:00 am at this point. I bring that up to say that I had already been partying for ~5 hours and also to say that we were about an hour and a half short from when bars close in NYC, around 3am – 4am. So I just didn’t like how this place looked.. AT. ALL. :/
In the movie “Ronin”, Robert De Niro says “I never walk into a place I don’t know how to walk out of”. I’m the same way, except I would say that AS I’m walking into a place, I’m creating my plans for walking back out of it. That starts with the bouncer. This guy was sitting down outside. It was odd. Bouncers are supposed to be standing, unless there’s a designated chair for them to sit in, which is normally a high chair so they’re on eye-level with incoming customers. This guy was sitting on a chair outside, like he was a customer, messing with his phone. There was ZERO air of authority about this guy. He reminded me of a friend of mine that used to be a bouncer for a bar I used to go to. He had ZERO credentials for bouncing other than he was ready and willing to get into a fight with someone and he looked intimidating. These people are dangerous because THEY know they’re nobodies, but while you’re inside their establishment, they get to ACT LIKE SOMEBODY, and that’s really not who you want to hire. However.. Most times, you can get people like this to work for cash, under the table, so it’s cost-effective, and in that part of town (far west, lower village area), they probably don’t get any fights anyway, so the guy’s just there for show.
I had been texting my girls, so I was the last one in the door. Because the bouncer was sitting down, I didn’t see him until I was standing right in front of him. He looked up at me with a bad look. It felt like he had thought his night was over and now he was going to have to work some more and he blamed us for being customers. So I look at this guy, give him the head-lift and say “What’s Up?”. He says nothing. Problem #2. You normally give yourself away as a CREEP if you can’t be courteous to people. That’s magnified if a) you’re a representative of a business, and b) I’m supposed to as YOU for help if a problem jumps off inside. There’s just about nothing worse than an untrustworthy bouncer.
So as SOON as I crossed the threshold, I’m checking out everyone in the place. There was one set of “outsiders” there, and the rest of the people were regulars or worked there. I walked to the back area of the place to make sure I knew how many people were here and what kinds of people they were. There was another bouncer placing chairs upside down on tables in the back. This was another probably-works-for-cash person, so this was even more of a problem than if there had just been one of them.
So, my friends, being oblivious to the situation, go ahead and sit down and start chatting. I stayed at the bar, texting my girls and updating my location while I’m talking to this guy I know that was part of our group. This particular guy usually gets VEEEEERY drunk when we all hang out. This usually isn’t a problem because of the places we normally patronize. This was not one of those places.
So this guy orders another drink, pays for it and then stumbles to the front door to go smoke a cigarette. Next thing I know, he comes back through the door and staggers over to his drink that’s next to me on the bar, mumbling something about (pardon my French, but it’s important to the story) “.. that guy’s an asshole..”. Now.. At 1:20 am, in that part of town, the ONLY guy outside was the problematic bouncer dude. So now, I know there was some beef that happened between them. :/ Now, I’m looking for this guy, who’s nobody, to come in the door acting like somebody, and that’s exactly what he did.
So about 1:30 am, the bouncer comes back in the door, and with NO SIGNAL from the bartender (who may very well have also been the owner, because he was pretty ancient and the ladies there at the side of the bar seemed to be related to him), the bouncer goes “ALRIGHT!.. LAST CALL!” .. So I look at the time on my g1, and it’s like 1:30, so I’m like “ok.. This guy’s rushing us out of here. We have a problem.”
So my group buys their last drinks. I already had my one drink I was buying from that place, so I was good. Probably about ten minutes pass after the bouncer’s announcement, and I’m looking down, texting to find out where my girls are and looking up their last known location on Google Maps, and I notice that the bouncer’s moving from the door towards my group “too fast”. When you’re keeping an eye on a situation, you allow people certain leeway.. a certain range of actions or motions until they’re detected as actively hostile. The bouncer headed over and he was talking really loudly about something. Since he wasn’t heading for me, I looked for his backup, who was standing pretty far away and not heading over. The bartender wasn’t moving either, so the bouncer was making this move on his own..
He comes over barking something about smoking inside an establishment, and swiftly approaches my overly-drunk friend, screaming and cursing at him. Apparently, this guy had lit up a cigarette??? I don’t know huh 😀 I never saw it. I never smelled it. I wasn’t paying attention to him, though. In NYC, you aren’t allowed to smoke indoors, which is why bars with outdoor areas have gained in popularity/patronage since that law was passed. The way this guy came over, though, he had been looking for a reason to continue whatever beef he had had with my friend when he had gone to smoke outside. I was happy that when he arrived at my friend’s location, he told him to get up and get out and kicked him out of the establishment rather than attacking him in some fashion. Like I said, I hadn’t seen a cigarette at all, but my friend was like “ok, ok” and accepted being thrown out, so I can only guess that he at least had a cigarette in his hand?
What I WASN’T happy about was that right after he threw my friend out, this same bouncer goes “OK.. THAT’S IT.. WE’RE CLOSING!.. YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO DRINK YOUR DRINKS AND GET OUT!”. So now, I’m thinking “Who owns this place? What’s going on here?”.. Dude was clearly mad and only slightly still in control of himself. That was all my friends needed to start getting out, besides the fact that we weren’t going to sit in there socializing with one of us kicked out on the street. So I finished my beer and exited the establishment around 1:40 am, which is still at least one hour short of an honest “last call” in Manhattan, NYC.
So everyone was breaking out, so I said my goodbyes and started heading towards my homegirls’ last known location. While I’m walking that way, I’m texting them that I’m heading that way to meet them. Since I’m walking and texting, I can’t see that the sidewalk is uneven and I trip and stumble towards some chick that’s walking towards me. She grabs my arm, which is the only reason I looked at her face, since it’s one of those “hostile maneuvers”, and it turns out that it’s the gal I’ve been trying to meet up with all night. 😀 Just like I hadn’t texted her until I was already walking to say that I was coming to see her, she hadn’t texted that she was coming to see me, and we happened to walk down the same block and run into each other.
So we head back to the corner I had just left and go to a bar across the street that’s obviously still open and running because it’s only 1:50 am at this point. She texts the other gal to come meet us and goes to the bar to pick up drinks. The bartender says that he recognizes her because she’s friends with the owner’s wife. When I ask her what happened, she says the owner’s wife’s name, and I’m like “I interviewed with her for a job back in the day! :D”.. So the other gal shows up and the three of us kick it ’till 3-something, with the bartender NEVER calling “last call” and no bouncer necessary to hire for this place that’s on the very same block as the last one I was chillin’ in.
Thursday Night Damage Report:
Got to represent for my friends’ birthdays.
Made three new Facebook/IRL friends that I’ve never met before.
Met several people IRL that I had already been following through SM.
Caught up with 20-30 people I haven’t seen in a long time.
So now, I’m totally hating the fact that it’s Friday, because I’m all socialized out. Meanwhile, I’m totally loving the randomness and fun of last night.. Especially since it was a Thursday.. an off-brand evening that should have been nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, I left the house @ 8pm and got back home @ 4am, 8 hours later, having enjoyed tons of fun, fellowship and camaraderie!
Thanks to everyone involved!.. I had a great evening, thanks to my Social Media friends. I think I’m taking tonight off, but it’s only lunchtime.. There’s another 6-8 hours left for me to figure out a reason to hit the streets and do it all over again! 😉