On a Saturday night at Mizner Park, Gigi's Tavern was busting out all over the place like ten thousand-dollar tits in a five-dollar shirt just as my friend Kim had promised.
Like any meat market, the prime cuts were right out front. Luxury cars were parked at the curb rather than in the lot. Pretty people (and delusional ones) paraded down the sidewalk. We didn't even have to go inside to experience the party; the music was audible from several doors down. Folks were outside smoking it up, many sitting along the edge of the large fountain. Others were bridging the gap between Gigi's and Pranzo next door.
The two bars exchanged patrons as freely as swingers swap partners. They reflected the same aesthetic, after all including middle-aged cover bands, each with male musicians and chick singers, and each with their own rendition of "Funky Town." (I was beginning to think these bands were on to something the '70s anthem was perfect as the official song of Boca Raton.)
Three women and two guys were squeezed together on a single bench, their privilege obvious all the way from the women's pedicured piggies to their heads of healthy hair.
"So how do you all know each other?" I asked the group, who looked tuckered out by only 11:30 p.m.
"These girls were rubbing me up and down on the dance floor," replied the business-casual guy sitting on the bench's arm.
I was dubious: "Y'all just met?"
"No, we're all married," the girl in the middle said. "All of us. To each other."
"Yeah, we're married," another chick countered, draping herself on the gentleman next to her as her silky hair slid over her shoulder. Then she shot me a smile equal parts innocence and contempt. "Not necessarily to each other."
So much for polite conversation.
Inside, Gigi's was packed. With the bar and dance floor full, people appropriated the dining area for dance space and hanging out. In keeping with the less-than-wholesome vibe, some of the tables were still icky with foodstuff.
Otherwise, the décor actually lived up to the French name like a modern version of the Parisian cafés in Edouard Manet's paintings. Dark wood lined the walls. Chalkboards with curlicue pastel lettering announced daily specials. It was the perfect setting for a classy night out. But someone hadn't clued in the clientele.
"Call me 'Tom from Vegas,'" a middle-aged man told me when I found Kim at the bar with the newest members of her fan club.
"What's not to like?" Tom asked rhetorically when I teased Kim about her admirers. He put an arm around her. "Just look at her!"
"He's a little touchy-feely," Kim said, punctuating her sentence with an exasperated burst of air that blew directly into my eye like a glaucoma test.
"She's a little feisty," Tom noted as I blinked.
That was one way of putting it.
I smiled blankly and turned my attention to the band's blond singer with the modern mullet haircut. Strutting on the bar top, she sang "Play that Funky Music White Boy" (again with the funk!) into her cordless mic and swung the hanging lamps toward the bar crowd.
When Mr. Vegas realized he wasn't gonna get anywhere with either of us, he slithered off to an unescorted woman nearby. I turned my attention to another of Kim's admirers, a guy named Mike. After I listened to the asphalt supervisor critique several girls' physiques, I pointed out that he seemed to specialize in finding "ass faults."
"So what do you look for in a girl?"
He leaned to look across the room. I followed his gaze to a chick who was shaking her tiny, micro-mini-clad rump to the music.
"Well, I guess you found what you're looking for," I shrugged.
"That's not a girlfriend," he countered, suggesting her assets didn't make her worth keeping. "It's one extreme or the other."
"Never been married, huh?" I ventured.
"Why would I? Like nine out of ten fail."
I left Mr. Positivity alone with his impossible standards and moved on. A couple of stools down, two women were chatting, drawing attention to themselves by not seeking it. Claudia and Natalie had driven up from Coral Springs for the place's lively atmosphere. They didn't seem to be making the most of it.
"When you're married, your life is over," Natalie said. "We're both married with kids."
Claudia was silently contradicting her friend by shaking her head.
"She's still married," Natalie insisted.
"With a question mark!" Claudia asserted.
OK, so Gigi's wasn't HQ for the Promise Keepers and their old-fashioned values, but the crowd did have a retro approach to fashion. The '80s were back with a vengeance and claiming new fashion victims.
On the dance floor, a Charo ringer wore a dress that showed off what could only be called (thanks to the Black Eyed Peas) her lady lumps. The frock's animal print looked like some terrible crossbred pattern.
Thank God she wasn't doing the Charo shimmy.
"One can only ask 'Why?'," Kim said, when she nudged me to show me the woman passing us. The plunging, black, backless dress alone was fine, but the wide red belt? (Her fashion sense equaled her originality. We saw three wide, red belts with black outfits that night. None was flattering.)
"Perhaps we should get her together with that guy," I said, pointing out a blond guy in a black, short-sleeved shirt and skinny red tie.
I dipped back into Pranzo just to see how things were progressing. Grannies in suits and blond preppy haircuts were getting down to "Funky Cold Medina."
OK, it was funky. Not necessarily in the good way. And the crowd was beginning to thin like the hair on many of the heads in the place. So I went back to rescue Kim from whatever schmoe happened to be dogging her in the short time we were parted. The schmoe's name was Franz, a good-looking, 30-something who lectured me on tavern etiquette.
"When you are at a bar, it shouldn't be about who you are and what you do," he said.
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It was what he said, not his German accent, that made it clear he wasn't Boca material.
The band's last two songs of the evening were perfect for Gigi's image: "Lady Marmalade" and "Let's Get It On." Since neither Kim nor I needed an invitation to dry-hump with the Don Juans on the dance floor, we decided to call it quits.
On our way out, I asked another group of 20-somethings how they had enjoyed themselves. The affable bunch were Gigi's regulars, and tonight, they were fueled for fun. After some quick pleasantries, including that one of the girls was a stripper and the guy worked for a "movie production company" (which, he admitted, produces porn), the dark, curly haired girl commanded, "Show 'em what you do."
Two of the girls began kissing. Soon, the entire group was an orgy of lips and tongues. The scene was an inspiration for a new movie. The dude had the right job to pitch the idea, anyway. Luscious Lushes: Coming soon?