Culture Pooped

When you're having fun, the red is all in the mind

"Popularity is exhausting," the late playwright, dilettante, raconteur Wilson Mizner once said. "The life of the party almost always ends up in the corner with an overcoat over him." The principle of diminishing revelry returns might have applied here at Delux, though the brother of South Florida architect Addison (for whom nearby Mizner Park was named), a notable partier himself back in the Roaring '20s, would probably have fit right into la vida of this particular fiesta.

An obviously well-lubricated woman filled her goblet from a bottle, then stood on her stool's bottom rung, one hand holding the glass, the other raising the roof as she moved to the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha." She promptly spilled the liquid down her arm and onto the floor as she thrust her hips and arched her back in time to the music. From her height on the stool, she seemed to be the general leading the troops of pretty chicas, who danced with similar unself-conscious enthusiasm on the floor behind her. A little fan club of men gathered around them, vying for their attention.

This particular Thursday night at the Delray club was a "Red Party." The fact that the women in question weren't wearing the celebratory color didn't diminish their popularity, nor did the fact that I had a single nail polished in crimson increase mine. The throng boogied off, taking their moves and devotees to the dance floor where they had more room and could check up on how they "twerked it" in the huge framed mirror there. I stood alone at the bar holding up the digit with the chipped veneer to show my support to the party's organizer, Alex.

Tony Gleeson

"The color is just a gimmick to bring people together to show unity for a cause," Alex admitted.

Sick of the usual college night where "everyone gets trashed and doesn't remember what happened," he'd organized the event to raise money for (RED), a charity organized by U2's Bono to raise money to fight AIDS in Africa.

"Next month, I want to do a White Party," Alex said.

"Sounds racist," I remarked.

"It's for One.org to 'make poverty history,'" Alex said, invoking the slogan of another pet project of the Irish rocker. "I would love to do it bigger and more often, like a fundraiser once a month."

I was torn: The activist in me approved, but the cynic in me distrusted the megastar's motives, causing me to wonder why he didn't just dip into his own fat coffers to support his beloved causes.

My cynicism was tempered by another of my vices. When I met Rómulo, one of Alex's foot soldiers in the battle for club clientele, it was clear that it wasn't just his good looks alone that was bringing in the crowds.

"You said it almost perfect," Rómulo said, when I repeated his name back to him, rolling my r just as he had, to make sure I'd heard him correctly. "Where are you from?"

When we established that I was a South Floridian and he a South American (though I was too distracted by his good looks to remember which country he was from), the international business student told me he was working as a club promoter to help develop a résumé for the commercial music business.

"Not interested in the indie music business?" I queried, finding the smaller industry far more hip.

"No, that's so much harder," he replied as I eyed the rosary that hung from his neck on the background of his red, sequined-embroidered T-shirt. "In the commercial business, everything is already established, the framework is already there. You just get hired into a job."

So he was more of a corporate sort than DIY, though his charisma would have served him in either role. Meanwhile, outside, the valets were sorting the sober from the DUI sorts by refusing to bring cars to the obviously impaired and calling cabs for them instead.

"One girl fell on her face," Rómulo said. "Another said she wasn't drunk, but she couldn't walk straight."

Well, at least the girls were walking the party line and getting drunk for a good cause.

I was still contemplating popularity — and the role of nightclubs as the Petri dishes of pop culture — when I was distracted by a girl whose thick glasses magnified eyes that were as bright as her smile.

"It's to freshen my breath after Taco Bell," she said as she tossed back a Rumple Minze. "Want one?"

I assumed it was her idea of hospitality rather than a hygiene hint; before I had time to answer the question, she had already decided for me.

"Babe, will you get her one?" she asked the bartender in the red Napoleon Dynamite shirt.

"Good choice," I said, meaning the guy, not the shot, and nodded appreciatively.

"Yeah, he took years to find," she said and introduced herself as Jenna and her bartender-boyfriend as Matty. "It's important that we're both in the same industry."

I understood completely. I also had dealt with jealous ex-boyfriends who didn't understand that flirting was part of my job. As a bartender at Renegades in West Palm, Jenna's job required even more understanding from her partner.

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