I like my nightspots to feature partial nudity, enough bitch martinis to drown a sorority, thumpin' bass, tit-grabbing, dirty grinding, liquor stiff enough to knock you off your barstool, and root beer floats, if possible. Fortunately, the Manor has enough clubs within the complex to satiate my every hedonistic whim.
The York: It was Saturday night, and my wingman and I swept into Wilton Manors' newest hot spot, the Manor — a rowdy, chameleon-like complex that boasts several separate clubs under one roof and more booty-shaking than you bargained for.
The booty-shaking would have to wait. As I glanced around the York, the Manor's restaurant and martini bar area, I noticed an off-side coffee bar boasting big glass cases full of cakes and gelato. My ever-thickening thighs demanded a root-beer float.
Five minutes and one exchange with the surly barista later, I was hopping up to a spot at a table nestled cozily close to the bar, surrounded by wood walls and low, overhanging lights. You know what I like with my root-beer floats? Vodka, bitch. I sucked on my float and cracked open the martini menu ("chocolate-covered," "red apple," and "ginger cucumber" all sounded like interesting if bitch-like choices).
Every third person who walked by was intimately familiar with someone seated at the table next to ours. Fact: Having not seen someone since last week warrants shrieking, hugging, and double-cheek kissing. The five men seated nearby would also applaud when a particularly spectacular specimen of gay male happened to walk by (two buff blond dudes practically got a standing ovation).
By the time I polished off the float, it was clear the waiter was ignoring me, so I had no choice but to make my way to the busy, oblong bar, packed with bottles of vodka and lined with golden statues of Cupid. I pushed through the interesting cast of characters: middle-aged ladies toting big mommy purses; girls on a girls-and-gay-friends night out; lesbians blatantly tonguing each other; and an increasing number of shirtless men with rippling abdomens.
As I waited at the bar for an extra-strong vodka tonic, I chatted up two nearby hotties. One was coifed, blond, and classically handsome with razor-sharp cheeks; I'll call him Apollo. The other looked like a hairless, more pierced (read: gayer) version of King Leonidas from the movie 300.
"At most gay bars, you have to be on pills or shitfaced to have a good time," Leonidas told me. "But it's pretty cool here, and I've only had one drink."
"We're actually on a date," Apollo said. "It's our first."
If he was dropping a hint that I should leave, I ignored it.
I leaned in to Leonidas. "How's it going?"
"Good," he said warmly. "We're really getting along."
"So, no dancing on the bar yet?" What I meant was "sex in a bathroom stall," but Apollo's discontent was palpable enough.
"Come back and see me in about 17 more drinks," he said.
"At least tell me something risqué," I whined.
"If New Times pays for the rest of our drinks tonight, we'll really spill our guts," Leonidas said.
"If I expense 17 drinks, the New Times boss man will spill my guts," I said. I then tried to negotiate one or two drinks apiece. When that didn't fly, I tried to gracefully escape. "I saw that the conversation was animated when I interrupted, so I'll leave y'all alone."
With that, I bid the gorgeous pair, the lovely lounge, and the lengthy list of drinks a fond adieu and traveled... across the room.
Ivy Lounge: Darting into the Ivy Lounge balls-out was a mistake, but there was no going back now. The humidity in the room was suffocating, and before I knew it, I was smacked against a sea of sweaty backs and twirling hips. Women shook their asses wildly; men danced closely with each other and lip-synched along in Spanish. It was Saturday Latin night, and the Ivy Lounge might as well have been on a different planet from the martini bar I'd cruised through earlier. This was a white, wood-floored, classy, rectangular room, generally rented out for business conferences, according to bar manager Jason.
A plush couch in the center of the room seated two lucky men who were at eye level with all the tight, tasty asses.
I spilled out onto the Ivy Lounge patio, salsa music pounding in my ears, and backed up to the safety of the bar. The patio's chic furniture said "Mediterranean café," but its ubiquitous billowing white curtains said "honeymoon suite."
I asked the bartender for a drink recommendation ("Tangerine martini?" What do I look like?), and when I turned back around, I'd been blockaded by two bald, burly black guys with hips like dashboard hula girls — they were salsa-ing closely and obliviously. The smaller, more pierced of the two took the lead; he looped his partner around, dipped himself, and gyrated on every side. When the song faded, I yelled to him: "Where'd you learn to dance like that? And how can I learn?"
"You can't dance?"
"Hell no," I said. "I have two left feet and just about every other lack-of-coordination cliché you can think of." I danced a little jig to illustrate.
"Girl, where the fuck you from?"
"Texas," I said meekly.
He grabbed my hand and pulled it overhead.
"Homegirl from the West can't dance," he cackled to his friend, who looked at me sympathetically.
"These boys are mostly Cuban, but I'm an American, and I can still salsa and merengue with the best of them," he said. He made small, rhythmic steps and swung his hips tightly as if to illustrate.
"What do you advise?" I asked. He buried his sweaty face into mine in what I think was a soggy kiss on the cheek.
"Girrrrl, you gotta get yourself one of these Latin boys," he said. "And take it reallll slow."
Epic Nightclub: On the way to Epic, I almost collided with a girl who was getting her breasts manhandled by men who, ahem, don't often touch tits. (Translation: They weren't merely tickling those ta-tas.)
I darted into the hazy, electric club, the experience of which can be likened to licking a neon sign... while on ecstasy, in a bathhouse, being doused in buckets of man sweat.
Swanky, old-style British chandeliers loomed above; purple, green, and blue lights flickered haphazardly, and a sea of shirtless men sprayed sweat all over one another. Techno music, the aural equivalent of sexual intercourse, boomed liquidly from the speakers. A butch girl in a T-shirt that said something about "fucking your girlfriend" nearly knocked me over when I made a run for the fire escape ladder.
Well, it looked like a fire escape ladder; really, it was the stairs leading to the second-story portion of Epic. This contained more bars, more hot bodies, and an outdoor patio.
After a few minutes, I darted back inside. I wanted to chat up a cute woman in red lipstick and a buzz cut, but she had her tongue firmly lodged inside a skinny brunet's mouth. So I meekly asked the bartender what the most popular drink was.
"Cranberry vodkas," he said, as if it were obvious.
"Can I dance on the bar?" I asked.
"That's a safety hazard."
So I decided to dance by the clear wall overlooking the first-story dance floor. I found a spot beside a short, attractive man in a tiara and swung my hips for a few minutes. Then I decided I needed another martini, but this bartender looked a little too used to making cranberry and vodkas to give me what I needed.
I ran back down the stairs, got twirled a few times, pushed through a floor of hundreds of sweaty, shirtless men not once, not twice but three times before discovering and stumbling out the exit while the booming trance mocked me by repeating nonsensical phrases involving the words rhythm and heart.
By the time I emerged and found the martini bar, I was ready for another vodka tonic, sexy folk, and throbbin' music. Fortunately, I was in the right places for all three.