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Attack of the Oompa-Loompa Busboys

When last we left this particular escapade, myself and two aging club kids had just bribed our way into one of Chicago’s allegedly hotter nightclubs, despite a really silly excuse for an entrance line.

I’ll say this for the place: that may have been the biggest lead bouncer I’ve ever seen. I’d put him at 6’8″, over 350 lbs. This was convenient, however, as my friend doing the bribing needed to use the bathroom and said lead bouncer escorted him there. When a guy that big walks through a room, people get out of the way in a hurry, so it saved wear and tear on my friend’s bladder.

Looking around the room, it was a lot like it had been outside. Mostly women, well-scrubbed and dressed to the nines, but past the fancy clothes, not really all that attractive. They were also acting as holier than thou as you can get. Normally, this is a good indicator you’re in the presence of the spawn of Lake County. Oh yes, North Shore trust fund babies make up in snootiness, what they lack in confidence. The really comical thing in this instance was the contrast with the wait staff.

I’ve been to a lot of watering holes in a lot of cities, and I’d have to rate this particular place near the top of the list for drop-dead-gorgeous waitresses. The ugly one was a “9.” So here you have all these spoiled brats acting like they’re Helen of Troy and there’s no reason to look at them in comparison to who’s bringing them their drinks. Except, maybe, that in the North Shore playbook, the help doesn’t count (at least not while anyone might be watching).

So already the situation has gotten more absurd than the line outside, and that’s before the music kicks in. This place, you see, likes to give off the persona of a dance club, not merely a lounge. They’ve got a fancy DJ booth. They’ve got what purportedly is a fancy DJ. Except there’s no place to dance.

I’ll admit, having been to the building in it’s previous incarnation as a bar that pretended to be upscale dining, I couldn’t figure out how they could have room to dance in the place. They didn’t. The room ended up being divided into two halves. One side by the bar was just a solid mass of people trying to get to the bar. The other side was two rows of booth seating, that is to say, seating for people who wanted to buy bottles. They say the high price of coffee in a coffee shop is rent for sitting in the place for an extended time. Well, the price of bottle service in a bar is usually a fee for showing off. Alas, it was this other side where the dance was, in theory, to occur.

So you’ve got two rows of VIP (priced) seating and then anybody who wants to dance has to get in the aisle between the seats. Can you say traffic jam? This was made worse by two things.

First, the moneyed white trash bachelorette party. I’m assuming these girls met at the university of Wisconsin, for reasons I’ll get into presently. But you’ve got a group of roughly 10 girls, all piled into a booth. Fitting the theme of the night, they’re all dressed up with not that much sex appeal to spread around, and they’re spilling out of the booth. They’re in the aisle. They’re on the ledge above the booth where the house go-go dancers are supposed to be. They’re bouncing off people and they don’t really care. The instigator of most of this, I took to be the bachelorette’s Maid of Honor. In my experience, anybody acting out that much at a bachelorette party has to be the sister or the Maid of Honor, and this girl didn’t look much like the bachelorette. The Maid of Honor seemed to think she was some sort of stripper. She was prancing around, doing scissor kicks in the air like she was dancing for dollars, pulling the bachelorette towards her body for amateur hour version of a simulated sex show, French-kissing said bride with their faces a couple of inches apart (I’m sure the groom will enjoy the pictures of that that already hit the Internet – courtesy of the club’s website – classy!) and being loud about it. Loud about it by nightclub standards. The cherry on the top of that sundae was the large tattoo of Bucky Badger on her shoulder. Not sexy. That has to be about the least educated the University of Wisconsin has ever looked to me. I’ve been around a lot of bachelorette parties in my day. I’ve gotten drafted for the bachelorette’s “checklist” a few times. This was top 10 for unruly bachelorette parties. You pay your money, you get to obnoxious, I guess.

So the side show is getting out of hand, the club is filling up and my friends want to dance. How can this get sillier? That’s where the Oompa-Loopa’s come in. As you’ve got this traffic jam of people trying to dance, people trying get to the bathroom, people trying to get to the bar, and the crazy bachelorette party, you’ve also got the staff. When the bouncer comes by, you just get out of the way. A fella could get stepped on if he didn’t see you. That’s not an issue. The waitresses, lovely as they are, would come streaking in and out at a pace somewhere between racewalking and jogging. The frequency was a little annoying, but at least you could see them coming. When somebody orders a bottle at this place, they tie a lit sparkler to it and waitress holds it over her head as she brings it to the table. Which is a good thing, ‘cause as packed as that place got, if it was a shoulder level, some of those fancy clothes the patrons were wearing might catch a few sparks.

No, the real problem came from the busboys. These guys were short. Really short. Most under five feet tall, I think. They’d burst through the crowd, you wouldn’t see them coming and, as often as not, their shoulder would hit your drinking elbow. I don’t know about you, but I take some offense to having my elbow hit when I’m having a drink. And these busboys would come through in waves as fast or faster than the waitresses.

The net effect was you’d spend as much time getting slammed into as you would anything else. At least you’re not getting over-served if a quarter of every drink ends up on your shirt. The uniform shortness of these busboys (I can only speculate if that was a hiring trait) had one of the club kids referring to them as “the #%^$#%@ Oompa-Loompa’s” and I’d call that close enough.

I probably last two drinks in the place before fleeing. Bribe your way in, you feel like staying awhile, no matter how distasteful a place. Still, I can’t help but marvel at what confederacy of dunces decided to pretend like the place was a dance club. Is it a wonder Paris Hilton was spotted (that is to say the media was informed by publicists that she was) at this place?

When I left, I took comfort in one small thing. At least I shared the obvious contempt the staff had for the customer.

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