Star Search

For those, like Night Court, who've never actually been to Ibiza, the tropical-tinged, house-infused, all-night party atmosphere at Hallandale Beach's Nikki Marina can be transporting. True, the party doesn't end at dawn — try 2 a.m. — but the dining-party experience ensures a good six hours of intimate play with strangers, and that's enough to move you a thousand miles away.

The nightlife empire of Nikki Marina's owners, the Penrod family, is pretty fascinating. Jack Penrod branched out from McDonald's franchises with Fort Lauderdale Beach hot spots Penrod's Beach Club and Elbo Room. Nikki Marina opened in February of 2004, joining a Nikki chain with locations in South Beach, Manhattan, St. Tropez, St. Barths, Puerto Vallarta, Morocco, and several other swanky spots.

Naturally, the Nikki aesthetic is young, wealthy, and good-looking. But there's also plenty of locals in cute club wear (short skirts, skimpy tanks, fresh haircuts, good skin) who like house music — think of it as SoFla's version of Manhattan's bridge-and-tunnel crowd.

After getting belly high on some delicious baby-neck clams and a couple of cocktails, Career Girl and I made our way across the sprawling nightlife complex from the dockside dining. We got down to business on one of the white beds scattered under the stars. Every one of them was occupied, but we went up to the one taken by a lone guy, which thrilled him, of course. He readily offered the cushy platform to a couple of younger women, and I could see him doing the math in his head.

Before he got too eager, I hit him with my survey question of the night, namely: What's your sign, and how seriously do you take astrology, particularly when you're dating?

Well, we managed to get out of him that he was a Sagittarius, but only after some linguistic acrobatics. Turns out our victim was Parisian, and him no anglais. Me no French. We compromised on Spanish. Mr. Archer didn't know much about his sign and asked for some help, so I gave him what I knew, that Sags tend to have dual personalities, like Geminis such as yours truly, but they have wiser, older souls. His blue eyes glowed, apparently happy with the description.

We were joined by his friend, who announced that he was a Taurus. My alarm went off.

"Oh, that's bad," I told him. "Taurus is stubborn, very hardheaded."

"Yes," he said, and immediately, like the charging Taurean bull, requested that I read our Zodiac compatibility from the guides I was toting around for reference.

Checking into The Secret Language of Relationships, I found that a Gemini-Taurus match wasn't too pretty: "this volatile relationship is alternately magnetic and rebellious... true closeness is elusive here."

None too pleasing. So I ditched Mr. Bull for a short time to check out what the ladies were doing. The crowd was raging on the dance floor inside. Kanye West's "Golddigger" was playing, and what's a Gem to do but find the closest guy with rhythm and bust up the dance floor. Not one to stay long, I assured my dance partner he could find me later and headed back to bed with the Frenchies.

But the 2 o'clock coach turned into a pumpkin, and the night was winding down.

Time to bid adieu. But the Taurus wasn't having it so much. He wanted me to continue the party back at his place. Monsieur Sagittaire looked on, amused.

"Well, we can party some other time," I said.

"Saturday night?"

"I'm busy on Saturday night, but how about Saturday day? We could go golfing..."

"You don't understand," he said. "I want to be with you."

"Right, so golf then. We'll go with my mother and drink some beer. She could drink all three of us under the table."

Finally, the bull stopped charging, and I popped over to a couple of girls who had serious opinions on the Zodiac.

Ana was 24 years old, a Gemini who said: "I don't date Cancers. They're too sensitive. All the guys that I met that are Cancers are that way."

"You don't like emotional guys?" I asked.

"I like more rational guys."

Her best friend was a Taurus, who described her sign as "easygoing, patient. They usually say we're leaders. I'm not all the time, though."

The Gemini said, "I was with a Pisces. They say that we complement each other. That was for four or five years. They're not as demanding as other guys."

On a recent Sunday night, walking down the palm-lined path in downtown Delray Beach, I heard "Laid" by James pouring out of the Bull Bar. Not being able to resist that enticement, I wandered in around midnight to continue my search for the souls who still believe in a destiny written in the stars.

Heineken in one hand, a cigarette in the other, I approached a threesome. Two girls with fabulous hair and one handsome young man — all very put together. Manhattanites on vacation.

"Do you take Zodiac signs into account in your dating life?"

"Cancer guys are the best," 24-year-old Steve said, before relating, astoundingly, that he is a Cancer himself.

"I heard Cancer guys are a nightmare," I replied, "but I've always wanted to try one."

"No, it's female Cancers that are bad," he insisted. "Stay away from them."

Jackie (another Gemini), a 24-year-old second-year law student, denied that a guy's birth date had anything to do with her predilections. "I never think about what sign a guy is. And if you asked me whether it's bullshit or not, I'd say it was bullshit. I'm not very gullible."

Oh really? "As a Gemini," I told her, "I find myself always drawn to Taurus and Sagittarius. Taurus is a petulant baby that clings to possessions. Sag is an older soul, but two-personed like a Gemini. A Sagittarius can see both sides of Gemini, predict them, and control them."

"My boyfriend, well sort of, is a Sagittarius," she said after I was done with my dissertation. "He's the only person who can control me."

And after she agreed with me on that point, the more we talked, Jackie had to admit that she was more ruled by the stars than she had claimed.

Still, no woman I spoke to said that they would flat out reject a guy because of his sign. Take Chrissy, for instance, a 23-year-old blond Sagittarius with Scarlett Johansson eyes, whom I met at Bull Bar. She's dating an Aries.

"We're not supposed to match. But we do. We work so well together, it's uncanny. One of us always compromises. We always like the same things. We're so alike, but we're so different."

An unfavorable match, according to the stars, but Chrissy sees fit to have her Earth fling anyway.

Get all your laughs in while you can, Chrissy. But watch your delicate little back. The wrath of the gods is a (three-headed) bitch (with razor teats).