The nightspot boasts more than 200 wines and champagnes ($7-$20 a glass) plus a $200 Hennessy shot, but the line to score a libation upstairs protrudes a good 5 feet onto the dance floor. That's where a sweaty crush of people bounce up and down while mouthing the words to "Hey Ya." From the pillow-festooned caves behind the dance floor to the napkin-littered bar tables downstairs, the club is packed subway-tight. One question: Who are these people?
The crowd's a cocktail of glammed-up marketing reps and party people in their late 20s and early 30s, as if a native Oregonian's silliest stereotype of a Californian was molded out of money and cloned 250 times. Which makes H20 like a cross between walking a catwalk and playing hockey--in hell. Too loud to carry on a conversation, too expensive to drink and eat, and harboring a Suburban crowd of beautiful, cold people. After only 45 minutes, I have to leave.
I hit a roadblock as I attempt to retrieve my coat from where I've stashed it behind a suede couch (dress code, but no coat check). "Can't sit here," slurs the large bleach-blond Monday Night Football extra lounging on the sofa. Suddenly, a giggling woman lurches over the arm of the couch across from us. A spiky-haired man shuffles up behind her, grasps her hips, grinds his crotch against her behind, and gives her a drawn-out double-pump as he leers at the couch hog. What's the drink special tonight, roofies 'n' Red Bull?
Scarred psyche firmly in hand, I squeeze my way through the surging mass of bodies to the club's entryway, only to run chest-first into a spray-tanned mannequin hottie in a sparkly wide-knit poncho. "Smile," she says with a sneer. "It's a fucking party."
Then strobe-lit burst of understanding hits me. She's right: This is a party. Not an indie bands-, Pabst-, depression-filled Portland party, but a rager that a capacity crowd of 300 boozed-out, drugged-up, decked-out dumbasses seem to consider only a Cuervo shot away from MTV Beach House, Spring Break 1997.
Truth: I hope H20 makes tons of money. People who dig shiny objects and pedestrian jams--please go hang out there. Stay far, far away from my lovably dirty, smoky drinking holes. I see this as a way to conserve Portland's most precious natural resource: our bars. And who knows, one fine night a water main might burst in the middle of one of H20's Hennessy-fueled fantasies and wash the whole ark of fools back to California.
Now that's cause for a fucking party, honey.
H20 Martini Bar, 204 SW Yamhill St., 478-7670. 21+.