Photo by Jessica CalkinsUpon boarding my return flight from Chicago to LAX last Sunday, I recalled the lessons I'd learned during my brief pilgrimage to the Midwest: 1) beer tastes good; 2) red meat does, too; and 3) tailgating for four hours in 31 degree weather is not only a splendid way to bump into that cold you've been avoiding, but also an insanely masochistic pastime that will doubtlessly leave historians perplexed 2,000 years from now. Kind of like Newlyweds.
See, in a momentary lapse of judgment, I'd arranged an achingly fast-paced visit to my alma mater in South Bend, Indiana so that I could crash on my ex-boyfriend's couch, drink bucketloads of beer and maybe—circumstances permitting—score a ticket to watch Notre Dame beat Navy for the 40th consecutive time. I accomplished all but one.
Still, for all the fun I had while catching up with Luke and my best pals John and George, consuming copious quantities of Keystone Light-boiled brats and idly watching the game on TV, as the plane ascended above Chi-town, I was left with a small problem. I now had to write 1,200 words about my previous week, and the boss man had informed me that simply writing about my mini-vacation down memory lane was not an option.
Fortunately, before I'd left, I received an e-vitation from devoted Clubbed! reader Brandy to head down to the Tuesday night '80s party at Ocean Brewing Co. in Laguna Beach. He'd been raving about the South County action for weeks, sending an e-mail every Wednesday morning detailing the previous night's antics, sometimes offering visual proof of them with pictures of wig-sporting, head-banded young men who were clearly having the times of their lives while dancing to White Snake. Or Poison, maybe.
I had but one option: to don my far-more-frequently-used-than-you'd-imagine leg warmers, gym shorts and Footloosetank top and get physical!
Of course, one barfly does not a Clubbed! adventure make, so I recruited fearless photographer Jessica—who went all-out with matching stone-washed threads, bright white sneakers and a sky-high side ponytail—and frequent Clubbed! cohorts Hudson and Ryan. Hudson, for his part, at least attempted an '80s look with an Addidas shirt. But Ryan did not dress up at all, and his future invitations are currently under review.
Then again, perhaps someone had tipped him off to the fact that this was an '80s club in disguise because other than the lad in a white leisure suit who had clearly confused his Travolta costumes—Staying Alive is what you wanted, yo—everyone else in line outside the bar was dressed, well, normally. Which is to say they were going for something at least vaguely hot, as opposed to my getup, which, judging from their glances, was decidedly not.
Oh, but then we went inside and immediately encountered an absolutely smashed—and smashing, literally, what with all flailing she was doing—woman on the dance floor who clearly believed the bar to be a wormhole back to the Me decade. With her eyes closed and her arms flung around her mister—albeit her mister of the moment, as we'd soon learn—she was so euphorically wasted it appeared she actually believed she was at her senior prom, a prom queen runner-up who'd been diving underneath tables and secretly sipping from her football-captain boyfriend's flask the whole night.
After a brief trip to the bar—fantastic times always call for dire measures; I ordered us a round of Jäger shots and some pints of the Ocean Brewing Co.'s Ocean Pale Ale—we returned to the dance floor and busted a move to Young MC. The enchanting drunk lady was still going strong—thrown over the shoulder of a new partner by this point—but my attention became focused on a group of late-thirtysomething suits dancing behind me with a slightly younger but equally business-attired blonde. As I detected the faint bass lines of the intro to "White Lines" coming on in the mix, it appeared these folks were also using the bar as a personal portal back to the times of Tab and trickle-down. That or they were just rehearsing the closing number to Wall Street—The Musical.
With visions of a tap-dancing Charlie Sheen racing through my head, I returned to my friends, only to find that Jessica was now perched next to the DJ, snapping photos of him posing with his Robert Palmer album, and that Ryan had fled to the bar, leaving Hudson prey to mercilessly gratuitous ass-slaps from soused female dancers-by. It was at this point I realized just how tanked everyone at the bar was, an observation that was fairly puzzling until Ryan showed up at my side two minutes later with a pint of red liquid in his hand.
Foolishly, I took a sip before asking what it was. My penance? I gagged. "It's a Long Beach iced tea," he informed me, smiling as I winced and uncontrollably returned to the straw. A somewhat sweet and fruity concoction of all things alcoholic, it was the same drink, now that I looked around, that about a dozen other gals were drinking. I began to feel as though Brandy had roped me into some sort of Pinnochian, here-drink-this-and-turn-into-an-'80s-dancing-donkey underworld.