Take First Thursday. Originally created by a group of local art dealers, it was intended to get people excited about, yes, art. But these days, it's become a late-night showcase of the Pearl's pretty bars and expense-account restaurants--places where the two biggest displays are bad mating dances and idiocy.
Fuel (1338 NW Hoyt St., 222-0742) was our first stop. It's a sleek, sexy every-bar with more curves than a Botticelli lady, but with substantially less allure.
Tonight, fresh from swilling free glasses of Two Buck Chuck and not discussing art, the FT crowd has infested the club. Well-tanned Pearl condo owners in white pants and polo shirts slum it and shimmy to Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown" alongside halter-top-'n'-poncho girls. Maxim-style men prowl the edges of the dance floor like packs of butterfly-collared hyenas.
The club's patrons look like pieces of work themselves. One lithe girl wears a mint-green tank top scored with aerodynamic slits; another sports a fluffy dress that looks like it's made out of squares of toilet paper. A bleach-blond dude tries to strike an unaffected pose as he leers at both of them by leaning against the round, 7-foot-tall fish tank that dominates the low-lit bar area. His elbow keeps slipping off the glass.
As I make my way toward the dance floor, I hear talk of fat beats, Intel and "getting totally plastered." No mention of Anne Grgich's Miniatures at Mark Woolley.
"No requests" reads the sign posted on Fuel's DJ booth. DJ Dantronix means it. When one dancing queen tries to beg for her song, the DJ forcibly removes her claws from his podium and shoos her away. Instead, the Insta-couples, conjoined by alcohol and dance skill level, cower in fear and bump mechanically to his Top 40 gems. The only genuine entertainment is the tall man who pistons his pelvis back and forth as if he's boning an invisible demon-vixen. He is unstoppable, his grin indefatigable, his feet shod in socks and sandals. Perhaps it is performance art.
Across the street things are worse. The Paragon (1309 NW Hoyt St., 833-5060) is sardine-packed with the same people. They are older and richer--but just as hungry for ass. A harried server launches a baleful glare at us newcomers in the doorway as she wades through the restaurant's sea of cackling nincompoops.
OK, enough of the high brow. At least at the (dubiously named) Low Brow Lounge (1036 NW Hoyt St., 226-0200) the music is better, and the indie-art crowd less of an eyesore if not less pretentious. The door opens onto a thick cloud of smoke and Doug Martsch's spiny Built to Spill vocals warbling over the speakers. The wait for a beer, let alone the goddamn tater tots, seems to be clocking in at sometime between never and ever.
Ugh. Time to call it a night--until tomorrow, that is.