Sure, I'm a girly-girl. I like pretty shoes and lipstick. I'm so sissified that a cockroach scurrying through the kitchen can send my voice traveling up to glass-shattering octaves. I don't wear leather, I'm not pierced or tattooed, and the closest I come to a fight is punching an imaginary feedbag during a TaeBo video workout.
But, hell, like any skirt-wearing fem, I get bored with pink lipstick. Sometimes I just want to indulge my inner hard-drinking, bar-brawling, roach-crushing tough girl.
Skimming through a magazine, I saw an ad for Ballers Rock 'n' Roll Sports Bar (3200 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Pembroke Pines), and the logo caught my eye. I can't think of anything more bad-ass than a muscle-bound bulldog riding a motorcycle and simultaneously dunking a basketball, so I paid them a Saturday night visit to see if they could live up to their logo.
Ambience: At first, I was daunted by the assortment of motorcycles in the parking lot, and even more by the collection of leather-clad tough guys congregating at the front door. I slipped past the hulking bouncer and grabbed a seat at the bar. Music plaques and pictures of athletes adorned every inch of wall-space, interrupted only by eight sports-playing plasma screen TVs. The bar itself extended the length of the room, book-ended by two metal stripper poles. An eerie back-lit glow emanated from behind the shelves of liquor at the back of the bar. A motorcycle-riding skeleton sat perched on a ledge just below the ceiling, its upturned mouth open as if in the midst of shouting out the chorus to "Born to Be Wild." The whole place reeked of testosterone, and after a quick glance around, I noticed that the only other woman in the room — besides the handful of scantily clad bartenders — was a motorcycle mama in a leather corset with cleavage up to her chin and a sneer fixed on her face.
Music: With the tough-guy paraphernalia and rough-around-the-edges clientele, the alternative-punk playing, Hawaiian shirt-clad band seemed out of place. Grizzly bikers sat packed into tables, drinking beer and ignoring the band in favor of gazing at the bartender girls' flat tummies. The bad-ass vibe was potent — diminished only by a live act that just wasn't the Bon Jovi cover band the place yearned for.
Drinks: AJ, the only male bartender, wore a plain T-shirt unlike the other bartenders — all perky young girls in leather, chains, and studs. With an easy smile, he brought me a $3.75 Bud Light and poured it into a glass.
"I've bartended all over the place," he said. "I once had Ted Nugent grab a beer out of my hand. I almost cried."
"You're lucky he didn't shoot your ass," the guy next to me interjected.
AJ tempted me with a $4 carrot cake shot special. I can't think of anything less bad-ass than carrot cake (shouldn't a rock 'n' roll bar have something like a "snake oil shot" or a "virgin's blood shot"?). But I gave it a taste — and it was delicious.
Bartenders: Jahrn wore a black leather bikini, mesh stockings, and plenty of chains. Despite her movement-restrictive uniform, she was a whirlwind of alluring activity — she straightened menus, picked up napkins, brought drinks, and still took time to bat her brown Bambi eyes at the clientele.
When the live music stopped, a siren filled the silence. Conversations ended mid-sentence as our collective attention focused on the action at the bar. Jahrn and two other bartenders — blonds in leather bikinis wearing chaps and chains — leapt on the bar and started dancing Coyote Ugly-style (one of them almost kicked over my drink) to "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." Jahrn swiveled her hips in the middle, and the girls on either side mounted the stripper poles — a whirlwind of midriff and thigh, they seductively turned themselves over, sinking slowly and freezing in position long enough for customers to stick dollar bills wherever they could find enough fabric to hold 'em.
Hook-up Scene: Ballers is a good place to chill, but I wouldn't peruse for potential life-partners. Given a choice between a 52-year-old biker and a Miami cop who told me he lived in a penthouse ("But I don't like to call it a penthouse," he said), I'd have been more likely to go home with the one who lavished me with compliments and didn't beg me to take his number. That would be the biker.
Customers: College kids who wear leather wristbands and the kind of older men who wear leather everything. The alternative and metal bands brought in a crop of youth, including Jason and Adam, two baby-faced Barry University kids who received a thorough ID inspection and sat looking uncomfortable in their backward baseball caps. A sea captain in a white hat sat to my left drinking straight Scotch.
A tiny woman wearing a skimpy turquoise bra and matching shorts sat to my right. Toni had flat-ironed blond hair, ivory-white running shoes, and slouch socks.
"The poles they have here, they're the best kind," she told me. "When you're in a pair of thigh-high boots" — she made a quick stroke along my leg to indicate where the boot would be — "you can use them to get a grip on the pole. But if it's not a good pole, then you can't get a grip with your hands."
"And then what?" I asked.
"You'll end up falling right on your head."
Her friend Teddy, on his way to the men's room, flashed me a good-natured smile and whispered: "I see you're getting that 'when-will-she-shut-up?' look in your eye. I'm telling you: She won't." Then the siren sounded for the umpteenth time that night, and the girls writhed and swiveled on the bar.
When Toni stuffed a dollar bill into the seat of a blond's leather bikini, the girl turned and tried to pull her up to dance on the bar.
"No!" Toni shrilled, pushing away the blond's hand. "I'm old and flabby now!"
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"You look great," Teddy said. "And you're dressed for it. Get on up there, girl!" Toni looked horrified.
"When I was a dancer, I had boyfriends ask me to dance for them. And I would say, 'No. I do that all damn day,'" Toni said after the song ended. "I was a dancer for years. And I don't want to do it any more."
Ballers, at only two months old, and already boasting more leather on a Saturday night than your local BDSM shop, is a prime place to chill with some of the friendliest bad-asses in South Florida. As I sipped my final beer, I heard the sirens blare again — sometimes it happened back-to-back — accompanied by the familiar pounding intro to "I Love Rock N' Roll."
Hey, sometimes you don't need a bar brawl to feel like a bad-ass — just the right environment will do the trick. Making small talk with an ex-stripper and flirting with bandana-wearing bikers is as close to the wild side as I want to get. At least for tonight.