A few days ago I called her saying that I wanted to work the final graveyard shift, whatever night that might be.
At midnight I was already pretty buzzed from watching Satan's Cheerleaders at 735. It was going to be one long, weird, hellish, wonderful, inimitable night.
I squeezed my way through the crowd in the street and somehow managed to get through the doors. The place was filled beyond capacity, yet it seemed oddly empty now that the walls were bare of all the bizarre art that had been soaking up Hideout fumes for the last eight years. Candace was working a bar three people deep. Her face was a mêlée of stress, amusement and mourning. I jumped back there, we had a long embrace, and then I helped pick up the slack.
The next ten hours were frenetic, wild and magical. Patrons and employees alike were in a frenzied party mode, like dancing on the deck of a sinking ship. Hundreds and hundreds of people sifted through the night, paying last respects and pilfering souvenirs from this crazy little divebar that meant so much to so many.
Today I close my eyes and I see:
- Stripper Jen dancing topless, money crinkling in the strap of her g-string.
- Wide, disbelieving eyes of some of my nearest and dearest.
- Twenty people dancing on the bar so hard that drinks, candles, and people were falling off. I was sure it was going to break.
- ravencreature and some gorgeous shaved-head girl violently attacking each other on the bar, groping, kissing, knocking shit around and finally falling into the beer cooler.
- Me, grabbing the soda gun and hosing down everyone with cold water as clothes went flying everywhere.
- The Club 735 employees behind the bar fixing themselves, and everyone else, drinks.
- Leila's curious smile of appreciation and remorse.
- Those blank walls!
- Avo, coming to work at 2am, eyes wide with horror at the pandemonium.
- A hundred tonguing kisses to my regulars whom I will still see around town, but never again in this precise, magical context.
- Candace, very late, so drunk I couldn't understand a word she was saying. I'd never seen her like this before.
- One word: misterchurch.
- Drink orders taking a long time to convey because I'd have to run down the list of stuff we were out of.
- Seeing, over the course of the night, everyone, like the scene at the end of I, Claudius when Claudius is visited by the ghosts of everyone he had known over the course of his long, eventful life.
- Christopher removing the Jäger machine. For some reason, it really hurt me to see it go. (Probably would have hurt me more if it had stayed.)
- Not knowing how to respond to the question I received so many times last night: "What are you gonna do now?" "I dunno," I'd reply vaguely, "maybe go spend some time in Europe. Get out of here for a while…"
- Sitting at the jukebox, removing CD's and matching them up to their covers. This jukebox is (er, was) infamous.
- Walking down the hallway after the hundreds of pictures on the Wall Of Shame had been removed. Feeling like I was somewhere else.
- Literally stopping in my tracks when I discovered Leila had painted over the Hideout logo on the wall. Gulping back a sob.
- Watching them install a lock on the doors in the harsh, cruel sunlight — doors that hadn't been closed in over eight years.
- The very last drinks served: Some prohibitively nasty beers found at the bottom of the soupy cooler, long after all the liquor, the cups, and even the register had been removed. We wiped them off as best we could and drank them anyway, at the risk of tetanus.
- Talking to the last four people who hung on to the bitter end, one of whom was Shannon. I recalled my first night, two years ago, meeting Shannon and kicking her out and watching her being beaten up down the street by some guys she was harassing. Over time, we became friends. She was there at the beginning (for me) and she was there at the end. Full circle.
- As we shuffled out the doors, realizing with an eerie start that I was the last one out.
- Standing around in front after the latch had been locked, feeling lost and confused.
- Some blonde girl coming by two minutes after we closed, trying to open the doors, and looking uncomprehendingly at the lock.
- I don't remember anything past that. I must have biked home because my bike is in my house. I guess I ate something because there's a plate by my bed. But after the blonde girl, I remember nothing.
Me, Pamela, and a lurking Big Mac.
Dance, muthafuckah, dance!
Me and the 735 Club kids.
How Paul managed to sleep in the tumult of that din is beyond me.
ravencreature and her violent amour-de-nuit.
I could have danced all night…
735-Tom and me.
The final, vile beers.