A little after 2 a.m., I was among the few who opted to drink and declined to dance. If tomorrow they were being tested on how well they could have a good time, these kids were getting an A. The dance floor was a frenetic playground as the crowd danced beneath ever-changing, colored shafts of lights to every song, even when the DJ threw in oldies like Prince's "Kiss" and the B-52's "Love Shack."
Christian, 26, a friend of the band's and not a weekly regular, observed: "The music goes from one extreme to the other. But at least it's not shitty."
"What about tonight's theme?" I inquired.
"Can't complain," he said with an eye on the wagging tushies.
Outside, teenagers were still making that awkward transition from adolescence to adulthood.
"I thought you had to have tits to wear a bustier," 19-year-old Natalie sniped, loud enough to be overheard by everyone on the sidewalk, including Jessica the A-cup diva in the pink bustier with whom I'd been talking. If her target had been surgically enhanced, I'm sure Natalie would have had a snide remark for that as well. For teenagers, after all, snideness is its own reward.
Jessica, however, didn't bother responding. The 19-year-old waitress was busy giving me the dish on her outfit, part of which she'd bought as I suspected earlier at Hustler Hollywood.
"You're comfortable dressed like that?" I asked.
"A lot of people know each other, so we're comfortable with each other," she confirmed, friendly yet self-assured, ignoring her friends behind us who were acting like, well, boys.
Taking turns accusing one other of being gay, one claimed he had three inches of fury that he was going to use on the other. I would have remarked, "That's, like, soooo After School Special," but I was afraid the joke would be lost.
Natalie, though just barely old enough to know the entire history of the two-year running dance party, asserted her entitlement to an opinion: "I've been coming here since it was at Kalahari [the first location]. Then the sluts started coming and ruined it."
Wanting to be fair, I almost blurted that the sluts were just trying to win a "fiddy dollar bar tab." But suddenly I realized the irony of the prize: Few were old enough to use it.