Downtown Montreal, Thursday night. The natives are restless and DJ’s is jumping. Crammed with CEGEP, high school, a few university students and once in a while the odd, totally out of place older couple reliving the Jurassic period by bumping and grinding to this season’s hit parade on the crowded dance floor. Out of place not only for their age but by virtue of the fact that they usually display, amazingly enough, more verve on the dance floor than most of the young people put together.
We arrive fashionably late and join Ernie, Will and Alex, who have already staked out a table a mere step away from the bar, in the centre of the room. Ernie, enjoying his first night of freedom since he tied the knot, greets me, as he does everybody it seems, with, “Yo, skin. Fight the power!” Alex, still alert, smiles and nods in greeting with a Tom Collins in hand. Will’s busy, as usual, conversing. This time with a well-known native artist who lives in Montreal. We begin the night with cold refreshments. Scanning the crowd through the smoke for other familiar faces.
The average age of revelers around here is 21. Give or take a few years. At the bar near the entrance, manned by burly bouncers with crewcuts who take their work a little too seriously, the skins are huddled together quietly drinking to the recent nuptials of Lisa and Michael. You see, they have a good excuse to be out late on a school night. Now and again, one or two of them venture the length of the club to the dance floor or descend the steps leading to the porcelain conveniences or, in this case, inconveniences. Give them a while to get their courage up and you’d swear they own the place.
At a table beside ours a group of young men are performing that ages-old male bonding ritual: leering at the girls and debating their physical merits. One of them is obviously a huge admirer of Michael Bolton and looks like he’s set to take that giant leap from fan to stalker. His loathsome haircut blatantly attests to this fact. Where’s a lawnmower when you need one? Pray they don’t start playing the maned one’s so-called music here. All except he and the fan(atic) would be ready for Club Crescent by two if they did.
I can see them now. Trying to outdo each other lipsyncing on the rapidly emptying dance floor. Excuse me while I go and throw up.
Speaking of music. The deejay here spins quite a wide variety. The Doors, Metallica, Whitney Houston, some reggae thrown in for good measure and this strange repetitive throbbing music which
somebody described to me as disco. The volume is in the upper decibels so if you wish to engage in any intelligent conversation, stay as far away from the dance floor as possible. Unless of course you happen to enjoy people screaming in your ear and flavouring your drinks with their disgusting spittle.
It is my theory that this three-storied building on Crescent Street, just north of Ste-Catherine, was some millionaire’s flat in the Roaring Twenties and it is his spirit that draws the kids here every weekend. I could be wrong.
More likely it’s the Thursday night special that beckons: a dozen loonies to get in and all the watered-down beer or cocktails you can drink. When the clock strikes two thirty they lock up all the booze, hide the keys and throw you out faster than you can say, “bouncer brutality.”
Before you leave, come over and say hi. I’ll be the one sitting at the bar by the dance floor with someone screaming in my ear and spitting in my beer. One more thing. As you’re sailing out the door, take care not to land on that would-be Casanova dejectedly hailing a cab.