A night at Mystique

DISCLAIMER: The following contains innumerable falsehoods and exaggerations and should be regarded as entirely useless for any practical purpose, including entertainment. Based on a true story.

Several weeks ago, owing to a unique concatenation of circumstances, I found myself at Mystique, a club on Main street. It was the first time in my 23 years that I have been inside a place of that kind, due to dorkiness or an indisposition toward Lil’ Jon — infer what you will.

By reporting my experience I hope to help other non-club-goers negotiate these surreal circumstances, should they somehow find themselves at Mystique or a bar like it.

Mystique is in an old bank building, which was adapted for use as a nightclub sometime in the late 1920s. Besides the optimistic Edwardian grandeur of its stone facade, the building is notable for its backlit windows, which sometimes feature dancer silhouettes — and an awning, which is red-brown with a gold band that spikes twice to form an “M” and generally resembles a box of small rum-tipped cigars.

Inside, there is a man to whom it is customary to give $5 before entering. Behind him, there is a woman who will take your weapons (I had none at the time, so I don’t know what she charges) so that they don’t weigh you down while you’re dancing. After passing these helpful two, I followed my party to the left and down a spiral staircase to what was once the vault. Now it is the coat check and the bathrooms. We checked our coats and climbed the stairs back through the gun-check and into the main room, which consists mostly of a dance floor. There is also a bar along the north wall and a second floor, open in the middle, which looks out over the dance floor.

When we arrived, it was not long after 10 p.m., and the crowd was modestly-sized and overwhelmingly on the dance floor. The women wore dark tans and eyeliner more than anything else, and the men wore distressed jeans and Ed Hardy tees. I wore dull black Geox shoes and a sweater. A few customers lined up at the bar, waiting for their drinks, seeming likely to resume dancing when they got them. It was very loud. My party made for the dance floor.

This situation presented three problems to me. Firstly, sitting was difficult and talking was impossible – these activities are where I excel and are really all I’m comfortable doing, besides walking to places to sit and leaning on things. Secondly, my staple beverages, lowland scotch whisky and Napoleon brandy, (both calculated to make teenage girls think I’m debonair), were certain to get me stabbed or possibly raped. Thirdly, it looked like I would have to dance at some point. This was a problem because I learned to dance by watching Conan O’Brien. I’m okay with it, but I thought the Armani Exchange set might not be.

So I postponed the inevitable and sat down on a bench which ran alongside the west wall, one of the few seats in the building. The wall itself was an artificial waterfall — split stone with water running down it. I recommend against sitting on this bench, because it is almost impossible to do so without looking like a giant perv. I’m sure I did, with my face precisely at ass-level, trying unsuccessfully to look somewhere where there wasn’t an ass. I imagine these clubs are a compromise to most men: you have to sway and bob like a jackass, but at the very least you have the opportunity to look at a lot of women dressed like Beyoncé. By not dancing, I felt I was upsetting this traditional order and I had to get up.

After twisting around and nodding myself into a semi-comatose state on the dance floor for what must have been three hours, I noticed my party moving to the doorway — to see off one of the girls, it turned out. Still, we were off the dance floor and I, deciding that I preferred being a sitting pervert to a jerk with tired legs, returned to the bench, accompanied by the only other male member of the party. I sat a moment and let my head fall back, which reminded me that there was a waterfall behind me. Drying my hair and hoping no one had seen me, I laughed it off, then got distracted and did it again. A stranger approached me, yelling something, so I leaned in to hear him. He said, “somebody peed there,” and pointed to my seat.

I remembered then that there was a liveblog of a Charlie Rose rerun that I wanted to be home for and got up to leave. Downstairs at the coat check, I noticed a $50 bill in the tip jar. This was a 1,000 per cent tip, which caused me to question the legitimacy of some of the patrons’ incomes. I grudgingly left $1 and got home three posts into the liveblog.