Crystal visions

Photo by Jack GouldFriday's grand reopening of Thrust(with “The Girls of THRUST!”) at San Clemente's China Beach was no touchy-feely love nest. It was something a little more caffeinated.

Now, I've never actually seen crystal meth; I always thought it was something for the 909. And I wouldn't have even known—people were handling really well, and I wasn't exactly getting into deep convo with the club kids—had we not come with someone who was eager for that extra jolt. No, we were turned off for other reasons.

China Beach used to be a swell Friday night. There were silly, hard-working disco bands in Afro wigs and a side room for bad South County punk. There were lots of Marinesroaming about in packs, looking for the kind of woman who puts the Corps at the top of her To Do list. (“This is my weapon/This is my gun/One is for shooting/The other's for fun.”)

But on Friday, the industrial house music sounded like trucks backing up into trash compactors—although we ran into the darling girls of the Fabulous Tuscaderos in the live-band room, and they thought the music sounded more like screeching pterodactyls. The Marines had disappeared like it was already the next morning, and then there were only dorky DJs pumping their hands in the air for no discernible reason. No eye candy there, just the gasoline-soaked nose kind. On the dance floor, two girls—Britney Lite, in a floppy hat and lowrider jeans, and her pretty friend, who was wearing see-through bell-bottoms and a bikini top—were busting moves stolen from a class on Lonely Aerobics. They were 100 percent fat-free, but without being bony or gaunt. If anything, they had the rubbery bodies of young boys. Next to them, a tall, Rubenesque woman in a miniskirt was slowly grinding out an elegant belly dance and making the young boys look like cartoons.

I already had a headache. Our girlfriend wanted to stay (she had other friends there, and her boyfriend could pick her up later), and my sister and I wanted desperately to drive off to a place far, far away. For guys, this would entail not a problem in the world. They would leave; the friend would stay. The next day, someone might call to see if any nookie had been had. But for girls, it's a whole 'nother world. Will she be hurt, emotionally or physically? Are we dicks? Shouldn't we be good girlfriends and stay to get aurally assaulted by the pterodactyl trucks until closing time? So we left.

But where would we go? We tried Coconuts. (“Are there Marines there?” I asked my sister. “Um, yes!” she lied.) But house music was pumping out the door there, too. We had it. The Swallow's Inn!

Now San Juan Capistrano's favorite cowboy bar is hit-or-miss. You never know when middle-aged former Green Berets are going to decide to put their fists in your face, or goofy-but-handsome Pink Floyd fans you once dated are going to chew you out for smiling and saying hello.

But this night, with Michael Chain and the Gang twanging out Southern Fried Rock from the bandstand and all our favorite old men twirling their partners round the dance floor (including Ladykillin' Jerry, Million-Year-Old Tony and the One-Legged Hungarian Guy), the Swallow's was the antidote to everything that had been wrong with China Beach. When Chain did The Kinks' “You Really Got Me Now” as a 10-step and told the pretty hipsters holding up the wall that they looked like a James Intveld convention, and every man in the room asked us to dance, one after another, and I didn't eat it once, I knew everything would be okay. Still, I did miss the usual felons. They always had lovely manners when a woman actually consented to dance.

Saturday, we hit Costa Mesa's Detroit for the long-awaited regrouping of 00 Soul; they've lost R. Scotton keys, DJ Gary and a couple of the old guys on horns, but they still fill up a stage. Don't bother trying to stage-dive. You'll never get up there with all that percussion in the way.

Now, Detroit is often peopled with little, entitled blond girls who work in fashion and think they're better than you, but I was feeling optimistic. Anybody who can still be snotty and aloof while immersed in 00 Soul's big sounds (Papa Byrd mixed up classic soul cuts between sets) is somebody who just doesn't matter.

Luckily, everybody mattered. Braless girls were doing that boob-shaky thing, and white boys were twirling and grinding, and even people from Germany were shimmying in time to both the hard Latin beats and the fonky fonky fonk fonk. It was Ecstasy without pills or vials, and it was sweaty like Ron Jeremy, but I seem to have messed up my neck during the drum solo. I think I thought I was at a Kiss concert. But at least we weren't stealing moves from a class on Lonely Aerobics.

Matter to Commie Girl. Co**********@ho*****.com">Co**********@ho*****.com.

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