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Uphill, downhill, around and around, a stream of pedestrians swarms against a backdrop of neon and headlights and music. Swaggering packs of college boys in Bermuda shorts gravitate to the shoulder-to-shoulder chaos of East Village Grille or Acme Bar and Grill.
New arrivals cruise slowly, pausing in front of Club D or Candide to see who is waiting in line. And, of course, to be seen. So where are you going? By yourself or meeting a guy? The line wraps around the front of the building to the end of the block, as thick as the sidewalk can hold. Even by warm Friday night standards, The Avenue is crawling. A large American car pulls up and deposits four almost identically clad, almost-clad females onto the curb.
They all wear tight black mini dresses though not all four should—and they teeter on high heels to the front of the line. The prettiest, wearing a black bolero hat, steps up to the tall man who is standing at the entrance to the club. He is the St. Peter of The Avenue. This he directs to a group of about 15 other people who are loitering in the street in front of The Avenue. The young men put their heads together for an admiring dissection. Before they get their fill, the nice one and her friends are in the door.
No one protests. The guys in the street look at each other and laugh. The guy at the door is choosing who gets to go in. The scene validates everything I have ever believed about going out in Buckhead. Having fun might be the occasional byproduct of the experience, but it is not the purpose. Not fun in the carefree, unselfconscious definition of the word. Buckhead fun is more like that in a high-stakes game of chess, where the moves you make are calculated to one effect: In the night air is the palpable sensation of trying.
Virginia-Highland has its strivers, but no place will turn you away for wearing blue jeans. After dark its woody pubs are the convivial land of a thousand light beer commercials. Little Five Points, with its anti-fashion activists, surely tries to make its own kind of statement. But in those two hubs, sincerity is, if nothing else, stylish. In Buckhead, sincerity is a moot point. Two kinds of people populate the drinking and dancing establishments in after-dark Buckhead: The insiders and the outsiders.
Given the choice, I will usually go elsewhere. Given no choice—when an obligation or majority vote determines my agenda—I worry about what to wear and what to say and where to park my car in Buckhead. Upon arrival, I watch the insiders and wonder if everyone else really feels like an outsider, too. But I know people who prefer Buckhead, who are fed by it, who are baffled by skeptics like me. Anyone knows some places where you can go for an evening in Buckhead, but these are the people who know where you go.
The first person who comes to mind is Michelle. A salon industry consultant, she is 29, self-assured, ambitious and recognizes lots of people in the clubs. We met last winter through a friend at Azio, the new Italian restaurant-bar-haunt in Buckhead, and took an instant though inexplicable liking to one another.
When I call Bob and ask him to guide me through Buckhead nightlife, he has no questions and is immediately agreeable. Tuesday and Thursday nights are for the professionals. A professional hangout on a professional night.
He has this life and then he has his life with his kids, and the kids come first. By then, my Buckhead insecurities will have proven well founded. By Thursday I will learn what I have always suspected, that in Buckhead you have your rookies and you have your professionals, and I am a rookie.
But the week is still young. The crowd is late 20s and up and, on the whole, not sophisticated. She grimaces a lot that night. Then it was called the Limelight, and Southerners from all over came to gape at the strangely dressed people pulsating on the dance floor. Preppy college girls and secretaries dressed in fishnet stockings and gold lipstick came to be uninhibited for an evening. Live sharks and, at another time, tigers actually circled under a translucent dance floor.
The private rooms with sofas and glass-topped coffee tables developed their own sordid reputation. It attracts a lot of women in white pumps and suntan pantyhose, not-yet middle management types, and out-of-town software salesmen. Most of the men wear suits, or jackets and ties, and stand around with a drink in had, staring at the dance floor. The music is Top 40, delivered by an piece orchestra with a constantly rotating lineup of singers. Michelle knows him from Club D, where he works. He tells this to all the workingwomen.
David looks to be in his early 20s, with a dark, flattop haircut and the energy and attention span of a hummingbird. He seems bored by attempts at normal conversation, and he never answers a straight question with a straight answer. I run into David every night that week. Michelle has a serious boyfriend in another state, but she has male friends in Atlanta she calls boy toys. Among boy toys, she explains, are babycakes men in their early 20s , honeybuns men in their mids to 30s and sugar daddies men in their 40s and up.
There are several black men, nearly all of whom are dancing with white women. Aside from Michelle, a tall, striking Jamaican, there are few black women in the club. Calvin also works at Club D and is someone she knows. Calvin tells her he wants to dance with me. On the dance floor, Calvin stares impassively over my head at nothing in particular and kind of marches in place for the first minute or so.
After brief opening remarks, he begins to interrogate me aggressively about my marital and dating status. When I try to put him off in a friendly way, he just laughs. He thinks I am baiting him. Calvin hovers for the rest of the night and, like David, will materialize out of the ethers every night I am out.
He sincerely means this as a compliment, but the comment irritates me for the rest of the evening. Under the door I could see one of them sprawled on the concrete floor in front of the toilet. Later, when the two girls emerged, I could tell by her aroma and ashen face which one was not having a good time. Helen rolls her eyes at me to indicate I must be kidding.
I keep hanging around, just standing in the restroom and talking to this grandmotherly woman in flat shoes. Men are PIGS. He shakes his head and laughs. At first he tells me he is a civil engineer, but later says he runs a restaurant-bar downtown. I keep the coupons. Frank offers me a drink. He smiles and shrugs. No sooner have I pulled out my car keys than Calvin darts up and wrestles them from my hand. He insists that he is going to walk me to my car and kiss me goodnight. Michelle intervenes and retrieves my keys.
Frank stops me on my way out the door and says again that he wants to buy me a drink. Michelle and I drive a few miles south on Peachtree to the inevitable source: That was fun! Do you normally have this much fun? I mean it was fun, I guess. It surprises and pleases me that Michelle thinks it was extraordinarily fun. Tomorrow, she is supposed to call the cute boy from Vermont. She has his phone number. He is with another woman from the nightclub.
All week long I have exposed my knees in Buckhead. On Thursday I put on a straight black skirt that hits me midcalf, with low heels and a long jacket. There are about 10 or 12 people there. Are you married? Living with someone?
There are about 10 or 12 people there. Are you married? Living with someone? Got a boyfriend? His first name is King. King leads me to a booth where Bob is entrenched with two other men.
I am not surprised to see him because I had no expectations, no idea what a nightlife professional would look like. Bob is short, heavyset and bald on top with a silver beard and searing black eyes.
He is wearing a casual dark brown shirt with a print pattern and cotton slacks. Next to him is Jerry, a big man dressed in a suit with a pocket-handkerchief. I slide in next to Peter, a low-key Australian in a tan suit, who is drinking wine. Bob reacts to me the same way 1 react to him: He introduces me to Jerry and Peter but still asks few questions. Order a drink. No one feels comfortable. Jerry tells jokes about blacks, women, Jewish women, homosexuals and lesbians. He discriminates against no one.
Bob laughs and laughs and gnaws on the straw from his drink. Every time I get halfway through my gin-and- tonic, he orders me another one. By now it is dark, and the discussion turns to Buckhead nightlife. Bob orders me another cocktail.
I am already asking for club soda when Bob and I make the second stop on our tour of Buckhead. The crowd is a little older, more sophisticated and mostly male. The women I see are with men. There is a piano man in the middle of the room. Bob gets me my club soda and a gin and tonic. This is a drinking bar. I sit next to them at the bar while Bob bounces from person to person. He brings a few older men in suits over to meet me. I feel like a nun at a bar mitzvah. The evening is progressing strangely.
He sounds like he is slurring his words, but it may just be his accent. Peter waves his arm toward the bar. So he smokes his cigars and checks on his interest once in a while. We have had just enough alcohol to feel uneasy about our mutant pairing but not enough to laugh about it. Everyone can see that the young woman with him tonight is not a professional, not someone they recognize—literally or figuratively—and Bob must know they see this and are thinking things.
But the next stop is Club D, and there will be plenty of amateurs. Plenty of camouflage for me. Club D calls itself a piano bar and dance club, but even the piano bar in the front of the club has a throbbing, disco atmosphere.
People would like to watch people here, but there are too many of them packed too tightly together. Bob knows a few people but not most of them—and vice versa.
Once we are inside Club D, Bob becomes friendlier, more relaxed. We sit in the piano bar overlooking Peachtree Street, and Bob illuminates me—at my request—on the subject of Buckhead women.
His theory is that 45 percent of the women who come to Buckhead come to dance, have a few drinks and a few laughs and go home. Another 35 percent are seeking some sort of male reinforcement to feel better about themselves but not necessarily for a partner. The other 20 percent, he says, are looking for a mate. I do not question his numbers, but I wonder how he came up with them and why.
Denise is a fine-boned blonde in leopard-print pants and a blouse with a leopard-print lapel. We discover we are both from Birmingham. This amuses me in a smug sort of way. I imagine the people who would say Club D is the hottest bar in Atlanta would be the first to make a wisecrack about Birmingham.
Meanwhile, Bob is maneuvering through the crowd, but he sends a procession of acquaintances over to the bar where I am seated. One of them is Michael, a taciturn, sharp dresser who is in management at The Ritz-Carlton.
The entire time I am talking to Michael he keeps one eye on me and one eye on the rest of the room. She tells me she got so excited over a song she heard on MTV the other day that she hurt herself dancing around her living room. Throughout the evening Bob makes observations about women, and about himself and women. Bob is one of those who knows—or talks like he knows—just enough about women to be dangerous.
He would make John Derek feel proud, and he is firmly in command. He spends much of the rest of our time at Club D analyzing me, how I should dress, how men react to me. You should show off those legs. Her real name is not Joni either. She is very friendly—very friendly—and very outgoing. Later in the evening I form a theory that may explain why she is so friendly, and I decide not to use her real name. Joni is 29 and looks She comes from a wealthy family and her mother was a centerfold.
She says she goes out at night because she spends all day long talking to bankers, stockbrokers, doctors and lawyers. Joni is a hairdresser. Bob, Joni and I talk at a table in the back of Club D for a long time. They already know each other, and each of them gets up periodically to talk with other people they know. We vote to go down the street to Candide. Now he says he is having a good time, a fact that seems to astonish him.
I think. Everyone says Candide is a European bar. The main lounge in the back is a long, low-slung room furnished with a bar, sofas and an aquarium, and it has white brick walls washed by ice-clue lights.
He frowned. Candide hosts all sorts of special evens, such as champagne parties and art openings. Vogeuing is out. Whatever is hot with mainstream America will only date you at Candide. Candide is almost empty when we arrive, and even more so when we leave. Every time I look at him, he smiles. Prudishness has no place at Candide.
I discern this when I am standing at the bathroom mirror applying lipstick and a young Hispanic-looking man with a pompadour and a baggy suit walks into one of the dark stalls and urinates. When he comes out, he is friendly and enthusiastic and says his name is Fab. Joni talks to the bartender.
She says he saved her life one night, but she means he cheered her up. She orders a shot of goldwasser, a magical-looking liqueur with metallic gold flakes swirling around in it. I order one too, but Bob sees and takes it away from me. Joni and I go to dance in the disco room, just us and about five Asian people.
Bob looks in periodically, and decides that when I dance I am really uninhibited and he sees another whole side to me. I realize I am long overdue for a club soda. The evening has reached that decrepit stage when you can no longer ignore the feeling that you probably should be at home, in bed, alone, with the covers pulled over your head.
So we make the only rational choice: We go to The Gold Club. Our party has grown to four. He thinks this is great. Joni produces a small wad of aluminum foil. Inside is a green, hallucinogenic mushroom. She eats a piece and offers some to the rest of us. Bob and I decline. There are more naked women dancing than there are men sitting and looking.
Two other dancers come over and Joni and I talk to them, too. Secured in their garters are jumbled patties of paper money, three inches thick. At our table the women outnumber the men 2-to-1, and even though three are nude, our eyes belie a sense of conspiratorial sisterhood of a shared and heady secret.
It is funny and preposterous that men will empty their billfolds for this, and we all know it. Bob is watching me for a reaction, any reaction. I have never been to The Gold Club before.
To me it is like Disney World, only the characters wear different costumes. I am not shocked. In fact I feel more comfortable at The Gold Club than anywhere we have been tonight.
Everything is just what it seems. There are naked women dancing for money, and there are men paying women to dance naked. We hang around until the last dance, about 30 more minutes. Downtown Atlanta is jam packed with famous attractions. This brings people into the city from all around, making it more than possible to find interracial dating spots in Atlanta. When many people think of Atlanta, they think of Coca-Cola, a famous company who has its headquarters in this city.
Visitors to the world of Coca-Cola can look at artifacts related to the popular product and sample countless drinks produced by the soft drink company from all over the world. Lastly, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. From bars, to restaurants and other types of recreation, there is no shortage of possibilities in the exciting Georgia capital. The possibilities are many and quite varied indeed.
Vino Venue For a little bit of fun, Vino Venue is definitely worth checking out. This intriguing locale is an all-purpose wine oriented venue for wine lovers with a taste for any type of wine. It features a club, a restaurant, wine tasting, tours, and even wine making classes. So, whether you want good food, a nice drink, or an education on the production of good wine, you can find it here at Vino Venue.
Engaging in any of these activities offered by the company sounds like a pretty creative way to further your attempts at fun, especially if you have a love of well made wines. It actually has events that will surely acquaint you with Atlanta dating. One option is to buy a ticket that gains you access to food and drink at the aquarium along with access to the exhibits.
These tickets are specifically for couples and those seeking a relationship. So it would make for a fun time in Atlanta. Your other option from the Georgia Aquarium is to bring a pillow and enjoy an adult sleep over including food, alcohol, live music, access to the full aquarium, and more. All adults who attend will sleep together in one room, in the heart of a beautiful exhibit of aquatic creatures. What do you have to lose by taking a chance on something new and trying it out? The Painted Pin While it may be a great time, the adult aquarium scene might not be the thing for some people.
For a different kind of excitement, enjoy hanging out at the Painted Pin. Try your hand at bowling with a little food and drink while you converse with other players and rustle up some fun. This bowling alley also includes lots of other games including Bocci and Ski Ball. Joystick Gamebar For a different kind of dating experience, check out Joystick Gamebar, full of games from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
This unique spot not only has fun inexpensive games but also includes food and drink. After eight PM, the only people who are allowed inside are those who are 21 and over. Find a partner, take some change, and play your favorite games from childhood as you discover all that Atlanta has to offer.
The games are switched out every few weeks to allow everyone to enjoy their favorite variety of games.