Passing through the doors at Blue Jean Blues on 33rd Street near Fort Lauderdale beach is like going through a secret passage way to another decade. The room is dimly lit, a swanky musician saunters along the stage belting out the tunes of Ol' Blue Eyes, and paintings depicting the days of Prohibition adorn the exposed brick walls. Looking through the crowd, you expect to see Zelda and F. Scott downing Gin Rickeys with Cole Porter while fawning over Josephine Baker.
The theme of the night is Guys and Dolls, and despite the rainy weather, the bar is packed, not a table or barstool available in sight. "Moon River" sounds through the speakers over the clamorous chatter inside the room.
Most people in the room are appropriately dressed to theme, but I get the
feeling they are not wearing costumes. The silver-haired woman standing
next to me is outfitted in a knee-length crimson-red dress with a
matching pill-box hat adorned in sequins. Sipping on her lipstick-stained rocks glass, she gives the crowd the once-over. I think she may
have spent a few late nights with the Rat Pack back in her heyday.
suave bartender wearing a pinstripe zoot suit and fedora moves in my
direction and raises his eyebrow.
"So what's your poison for
tonight, darling?" he inquires.
"I guess the citrus green apple
martini sounds good," I reply, pointing to the specialty menu.
carefully grasp my light-green overflowing martini and make my way
outside to an empty candle-lit table. The mixture of the cool ocean
breeze, trees illuminated by twinkle lights, and cigar scent in the air
set a movie-like tone for the evening ahead. It had to only be a matter
of time until Sky Masterson would appear from a dark corner to look me
in the eyes and say, "Your eyes are the eyes of a woman in love..."
booming voice of the announcer echoes through the speakers to introduce
the entertainment for the night. Mark Fernicola and his quartet take
the stage. Mark is wearing a jet-black tuxedo, complete with bow tie,
and if you squint, he kind of resembles Sinatra. He appropriately opens
his set with "Come Fly With Me" and goes right into "Our Love Is Here to
Stay." A salt-and-pepper-haired man in a royal-blue suit strolls over
to his wife sitting at a high-top table. He mouths the lyrics to the
song and puts out his hand, inviting her to dance. Staring back at him,
her face glows like they are back in the high school gym at prom. The
duo glides through the narrow walkway between tables and onto the tiny
dance floor moving in unison as if they are the only ones in the room. A
handful of couples begin to follow suit. I look down at my iPhone just
to confirm that I haven't actually traveled back in time and that it is
A dapper-looking man in suspenders and a pocket watch
dangling from his charcoal pants approaches my table and takes a seat
across from me. He places his wool fedora on the table to reveal
his slicked-back dark hair.
"You have a light?" he inquires
peering up at me.
"I'm sorry, I don't smoke." I reply. (But I
sure as hell wish I did, I think to myself.)
"That's a shame. I
hope my smoke won't bother you," the stranger says, whipping out a silver
zippo with initials engraved on it from his pocket.
I furrow my
brow in confusion.
"It was just an opening line," he laughs and
takes a long drag off his cigarette.
Through the cloud of smoke, I
notice a tipsy couple in their mid-30s occupying the table behind us
making out underneath the flickering lamp. The heavy wooden door flies open and a rockabilly couple dance their way onto the sidewalk.
"Oh, I hate to leave so early," says the tall woman with her blond hair styled in victory rolls with a feather cap on top.
"I know, my sweet, but it's an early morning," her date replies and then twirls her around, ending with a dip, and plants on a kiss on her cherry-red lips.
I turn to check my phone to confirm once again that it is in fact still 2011 and notice a full martini glass.
"Thought you'd like another," says the dark stranger winking at me.
"You know they warn us about taking drinks from strangers," I explain.
"No tricks here, lady. Just relying on my God-given charm to win you over," replies my stranger, giving me yet another wink.
Mark Fernicola's voice comes through the speakers belting out his rendition of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." I sigh and take a sip from the frosty martini glass, praying there are no roofies in it. (Spoiler alert: There weren't.)
"Is this fucking karaoke night?" yells a bald man in a teal tank top clutching a beer bottle.
"Fuck, there are some old men in here tonight!" exclaims a curly-haired woman in snake-skin heels pushing open the door. "And I'm no spring chicken."
"Well, look on the bright side: Maybe they're rich," replies her tipsy wingwoman in a New York accent.
"So I never got your name," says my stranger.
"And you won't." I reply spinning my chair back around. "How about we just remain anonymous for the night? Seems more fun that way."
The stranger laughs and nods his head in acceptance. I finish my fruity martini and bid him adieu. I walk into the drizzling rain, leaving the mystery man behind, and round the corner to get one last drink at the Dive Bar. As I walk through the doors, Eddie Vedder's voice blares through the jukebox. I order a shot and sit back, looking over the crowd. I knew time travel didn't exist, but it sure as hell felt like it behind the doors at Blue Jean Blues.