Tremble and Obey

At the cusp of tourist season, two monster nightspots take over

"Yes," he said.

She nodded.

I took my drink to one of the couches to start a new conversation.

The past looms over the future at Automatic Slims.
Colby Katz
The past looms over the future at Automatic Slims.

He walked back over to me and said, "My wife thinks you're cute."

"So you guys are swingers, I gather?"

He pulled out his membership card from Trapeze (3666 W. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale), a notorious swingers club.

Adieu. In great haste, I made my way over to Kevin, a 25-year-old redhead guarding about eight beers on a stool.

"I'm holding these for my friends," he said, "but you can have one."

Sweet. Over my first sip, I listened to him opine on Slims. "I think it's about fucking time they had a place like this. It's such a breath of fresh air. It's not trying to be a hip-hop club. It plays rock music in its own style. It will succeed because it's different."

Slims co-owner Mike Coner, a 26-year-old who's hot as a speeding bullet and insists that I include that he's from the Quincy area of Boston, breaks it down for me in his office while the Steve Miller Band's "Space Cowboy" plays in the club. "The concept is 1960s Googie architecture, from an era when America was happy and people had money. We're Americana without a bunch of flags.

"This is an upscale version of a dive bar. This is a place where we want people on the furniture. Boaters get off of their yachts and they're wearing shorts, and some places won't let them in. We want them here. Some guys wear Dickies" -- he points at his own pants -- "and they look nice, but some places won't let them in. We want them to come here."

On with the deliberate business plan. "We have three markets in my opinion: the 35-plus Harley-Davidson crowd, club kids, and the skater and surfer crowd. Like we have 'Stoked Thursdays' and we're going to bring in Dick Dale and Pepper. We want to do the whole B-list celebrity thing. I'd like to bring in Pee Wee Herman."

Automatic Slims has plans to expand beyond Fort Lauderdale, bringing locations to Orlando and Las Vegas.

In describing his target partiers, Coner explains recent economic changes: "Before 9/11, you had all these 22-year-old kids who were pulling in $60,000 a year. Now, a lot of people 24 to 28 are unemployed. So, our crowd is more like 30 and 31, '80s kids, rock 'n' roll kids."

As Revolution finishes its final internal renovations, the new club will cater to those with a rock hankering as well, with upcoming shows by Social Distortion, Death Cab for Cutie, Coheed and Cambria, and so on and so on with the fabulous acts that you want to see.

On Friday night, its second night open, Automatic Slims pulled a crowd of 700, and as 4 a.m. approached, the party wore down with people sleeping on upstairs couches, a few games of pool, then ended in a way that perhaps no Ft. L party has ever ended before: with Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

It's all like: Feel good, Lauderdalians; now go the fuck home.

With two giants stomping across Himmarshee's horizon, what's to do but tremble and obey?

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