Thank you for grinding on me from behind
A rumination on tools, vomit, and longing on a night out in L.A.
Whoa! Thank you random under-dressed guy for grinding on me from behind! Clearly, you’re excited about Drai’s! What a wonderful surprise!
Great idea sandwiching me between your hips and your bug-eyed, Iranian wingman. The way he shouted, “Dude, you’re hot,” in my face, as you popped around like a jack-in-the-box behind me was so affirming.
The social scene was quickly degrading. The few males in the club were chunky-slash-zitty close-talkers. Their talk smelled like tonsil stones. Their zits were sweating.
A dancer dressed in Christmas garb at Drai's. Photo by Tracy Tran
As my girlfriends and I strolled by the pool, through the crowd, then between two red velveteen queen-sized beds — marked reserved — in what appeared to be a mating area for exhibitionist royalty, it occurred to me that zit-sweat could be dripping into the holes in my dress.
Drai’s, the new “it” nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard, has an enormous white balcony and a bird’s eye view of the flashy bustle below. Behind us, the main room sat at the end of an airy corridor lined with dancers in velvet and fur — statuesque Santa’s helpers gone naughty.
It has the trappings of the ultimate, airy, palatial party place. Why was it such a tool box?
Jasmine and Lexi really liked the $15.00 M.I. special — perfect shots of Malibu, lemon juice, and vodka. Lexi’s standards went out the window real quick and she started pairing off with zitty burgeoning-rapper types. Jasmine just started puking. For much of the night, she was caught in that old-school dance-puke style of clubbing big in ancient Rome.
There were 11 of us all together. I was wearing a sheer, black pillowcase dress that ended way above the knee with 13 or 14 holes in it. Jasmine was in a short, pink dress. Lexi walked up in zebra stripes — a mix of drapery and spandex. Noel and Garrett dressed the part of your typical, contemporary LA hottie: plaid shirt; suspenders; thick, black-rimmed poser glasses. The rest of the crew was bejeweled mall-chic.
We arrived early to stay on the safe side, shivering in our classiness for 40 minutes before catching sight of two burly bouncers strutting out of the W Hotel.
“Hey beautiful ladies,” greeted the one that looked like Kevin Federline.
“You on the guest list?”
Door tools always ask the silliest questions. Of course not, K-Fed.
The sea of women at Drai's night club in Los Angeles. Outrageous cover charges for males have turned the club into an all-girl slumber party. Photo by Tracy Tran
I looked at Jasmine. We couldn’t get on the guest list because we came out with guys in tow. Our group gender ratio was nine girls to two guys. To waive their obnoxious $20.00 cover charge, the tools demand a group of ten girls.
We’d been texting Drai’s promoters all week. No way to get around this idiotic brand of social engineering.
In the last two years especially, the standard for food, drinks, and ambiance in LA has been set by Las Vegas. The closer Hollywood clubs can come to Vegas in terms of exclusiveness and palatial grandeur, the more in they become. Apparently, Vegas males prefer harem-esque arrangements over the traditional dance party, so Drai’s management programmed their door tools to regulate the party.
You could feel these idiots sucking the spontaneity from the social hurricane: Vampire tools.
Vampools? Toolpires? Damn them.
Before I go on: What is a club, really?
It’s a room with music and dim lights. It’s a three-dimensional canvas onto which we expel our demons and paint our desires in booze-fueled ritual movements.
We click down the sidewalks in high heels staring not into the night, but into its infinite possibilities. We don’t go clubbing for the drinks or for love per say. We go to be part of the social hurricane and witness its aftermath.
Velvetine beds can be reserved for an evening at Drai's nightclub. Photo by Tracy Tran
Drai’s rental beds and hanging velvet are cool but only stage dressings. All of our longing, released into that small space, makes the club. I think of Jasmine whipping her hair back and forth in ecstasy, in sickness.
Because of its short life — a few hours at most — the perfect club storm requires balance between its elements. Balance that is easily thrown by outside influence — in this case, Los Angelinos’ obsession with Las Vegas.
“It’s going to be twenty bucks each,” said K-Fed, in a voice that seemed too high for someone of his bulk.
“We texted one of your promoters,” Jasmine cut in, whipping out her cell, scrolling at random through her text messages. I looked over her shoulder and saw they were messages with her mom.
“What was his name?” K-Fed was dubious.
My God, toolpires and their flaming hoops.
Jasmine flashed him a look before hissing at me, “Wait, what was his, er, name?”
“mmm…Eric,” I said.
K-Fed asked “Eric Li?”
We nodded vigorously. Yes, sure, whatever dude.
“Alright,” he said, loosening the ropes. “Twenty bucks for each guy and half for you girls. Pay at the top.”
We were ushered through glittering onyx hallways and into a red elevator with mirrored ceilings. The elevator doors slid open to reveal a blonde with a blank expression by the cash register surrounded by door tools and miniature Christmas trees.
That’s right, test your walkie-talkies y’all, we’re here.
Drai's palatial architecture includes a glowing swimming pool. Photo by Tracy Tran
We hit the dance floor around midnight. Scanning the crowd, I saw one male specimen standing at the corner with a drink in hand probably still in disbelief that he had this buffet of women all to himself. He didn’t know where to start.
It felt like an all-girl sleepover. This was not a hurricane of emotion. This was a lot of sipping, chatting, and competitive propriety.
The solo male will rarely dance. He will not mingle. He will wait for one of us to come to him. This isn’t a party. This is more like fishing — and hardly a pole in the water.
While Jasmine and Lexi were grinding with Dr. Dre and R. Kelly, I watched my drink ripple in time with the bass.
O.K., there was the douche-duo I mentioned earlier on. I also got the attention of a quiet grad student of 28 or so, who found it interesting to trail me to the bathroom three times. I couldn’t bring myself to do more than raise an eyebrow at that shadow-like weirdo. He waited for me each time. Figures that the only men that make it into Drai’s are the type who silently perch themselves near the bathroom door.
At the end of the night, I was towing four tipsy girls to my car, playing the role that any guy would be envious of — if only they had entered the club. Lexi was the hardest to pry away and the most vociferous in the car on the way home, cursing pedestrians for fun.
“GEEEEEET BEEEEEENT Motherfuckers!” she’d say, laughing as their necks recoiled. I pulled over so Lexi could hork in a patch of grass.
You know you’re driving down Hollywood Blvd. at night because you don’t need headlights. The edges of the sidewalk are sharp and colored orange and blue. The clarity of this time of night is its most striking feature. We know next weekend is coming. We know where we’re going — back to jobs we could care less about; back to small, grungy kitchen windows where we stand sometimes, absolutely alone in the sprawling, throbbing, flickering neon maze that is Los Angeles.
It wasn’t much of a club night. Drai’s sucked. I have to say, I left with a lot of pent-up longing.
Still, driving through the bright night, I couldn’t help but think of the pool, glowing like an Ibiza sapphire. When I dipped my toes in it, it felt clean, fresh, and warm.
Ah, the infinite possibilities.