Friday, October 23, 2009

Have Gold Chain and Collared Shirt, Come Right In

cheesy clubber guy
Our trip last week to Oahu was meant primarily for the Crew to get some serious R&R. We frolicked in our lagoon and ran up a thousand dollar pool tab comprised primarily of rum-spiked mango smoothies and chicken wings. It was very relaxing. We did, however, decide to spend one evening partying it up in Honolulu. And as we always do, we booked ourselves bottle service, this time at a well-known night club on Restaurant Row. Now, I won’t mention this club by name since our hostess was a sweet lil thang that took great care of us and we generally had a good time. Let’s just say the name is another word for “large body of water”.

We’ve been to nightclubs in SoCal, Las Vegas, New York, Mexico, London, etc., etc. and we know that each locale has their own standards for dressing up. In San Diego, we usually can get away with a nice pair of jeans and a sharp tee while in Vegas and NYC, we’ll dress things up a bit more. Having never clubbed in Hawaii, we assumed the dress standards for San Diego would suffice as both places are laid-back beach towns. In fact, I told the fellas not to get too dressy so we don’t look like a bunch of elitist mainlanders (which we are).

We got to the club, all excited for a night out partying it up with the locals, and walked straight up to the sexy hostess at the front of the VIP line.

“You guys can’t come in like that”, she told us.

Like that? Like what? I looked myself up and down. Did I have a mango smoothie stain on my shirt? No. Let’s see, did Tandori dress like a Punjabi store clerk again? Not at all. Shadinsky and Steve were also looking all fresh and clean.

“You can’t come in without a collared shirt”, clarified the sexy islander.

I was shocked. I had booked the table service a week prior and our contact never mentioned anything about collared shirts. And this was freaking Hawaii for goodness sakes. Who the hell wears collared shirts here except for Midwestern tourists sporting their tacky Hawaiian shirts?

“But the guy I booked the table with never mentioned anything about collared shirts”, I argued. She called over the obligatory, self-important dude in black with the ear piece on.

“Echo, Delta, Charlie, we have potential breach of no collared visitors in the perimeter”, is probably what the obligatory, self-important dude in black imagined he heard through his fancy ear piece.

“Sorry but we have a strict collared shirt policy.”

I started to look around at the crowd gathering at the entrance. It was a motley crew of shadiness that I hadn’t seen since I lived in the hoodie part of Culver City back in college. I couldn’t tell you exactly how many of those motherfuckers had outstanding arrest warrants, but it had to be north of 50 percent. Now admittedly, they were all wearing collared shirts. But based on tackiness of most of the shirts, I would bet that they were all stolen from the local Goodwill. I saw oversized plaid shirts, dudes wearing unbuttoned mechanic shirts over wife beaters, and even one guy rocking a gold chain and medallion (which decade was that particular look deemed cool???). It was as if TJ Maxx raped Old Navy and spawned all these poorly dressed peons.

“I’m going to have to check with the manager to see if he’ll let you in.”

So off goes the obligatory, self-important dude in black with the fancy ear piece to talk to “The Manager”. They huddle up, discussing the merits of letting in a bunch of non-collared mainlanders into their exclusive club. The dude in black points at us, whispers something into The Manager’s ear. They walk over. The Manager speaks:

“Guys, we have a strict collared shirt policy.”

We heard.

“However, since you guys booked a table, we’ll let you in, but the next time you come back make sure to wear a collared shirt.”

He then proceeded to tell us about the something or other party the next night and asked if we’ve been to his brother’s club in Newport Beach yada, yada, yada. Whatever Mr. Manager. Just stamp our damn wrists and get us to our table.

He told the obligatory, self-important dude in black to escort us to the VIP area. After going through all this drama, I was envisioning that we were going to be led to the mother of all VIP areas, the Shangri-La of bottle service. I’m thinking go-go dancers galore, plush furnishings, bottles of Cristal everywhere, maybe even The Rock himself partying it up with his entourage at one of the tables.

We were escorted through the main part of the club, which looked a helluva lot like your neighborhood sports bar, until we reach the “VIP” area. Calling this place VIP is like calling a Phoenix University graduate employable: they’re not. Behind a wall of cheesy lava lamp looking things hides a small lounge area with four tables and plastic booths. The walls were covered in fake wood that made the whole area feel like a mix between a strip club and a dive bar.

The worst part of the area was that the lava lamp looking things completely blocked the view of the entire club, preventing you from seeing out and perhaps just as important, prevented anyone from seeing in. Now this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the “VIP” area was stocked with gorgeous talent milling about. Au contraire. The only other party stupid enough to be back there was a group of 10 or so hippos, elephants, and wildabeast who were all sharing a single bottle of vodka. It was like having bottle service at the Honolulu Zoo. Apparently, if they hadn’t let in our group, they would have lost more than half their bottle service revenue for the night. That’s a pathetic statement for a supposedly hot club on a Friday night.

So here is the point I’m trying to make dear readers: we’re all for keeping standards at nightclubs, or for that matter, restaurants, neighborhoods, and countries. We get it. You want to keep a certain level of sexiness and sophistication. But make the standards relevant. Have rules like: “don’t dress like a waiter at a Saigon pho restaurant or a disco dancer from Myanmar.” Rules like “collared shirts only” leave too many loopholes that potentially allow people to show up looking like Third World John Travoltas.

picture via


Eric said...

Hawaii is sorely lacking, not in number, but in quality of night clubs.

Ocean's club is is a pretty low place for someone with taste and a penchant for bottle service. The bar is generally a place where 40-something men try to regain time spent working instead of raising their first families. And where late-30's women and a trail of 20-something office workers go to dance in their impenetrable groups dancing to top-50.

You may have better enjoyed: The "trio" -- three bars lined up in downtown called: Bar 35, Hotel Thirty-nine, and Next Door -- the three generally have a lot more going on with much less attitude. They don't all offer bottle service, however the vibe and types of music make up for the undersight. Their close proximity also allows a group to hop around.

A little more ambitious is Level 4 in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, an expansive club set before a large stage turned cabaret.

Finally, a place slightly more lax on dress-code and full of cute Japanese women and tourists would be Lotus Soundbar on Kuhio.

Then there are the wine bars throughout. And a rash of new clubs opening up every month.

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