As we are on most Thursday nights of hapless downtown drunkitude, Tony and I are squinting at the walls in search of a sign to tell us just when we are. Fortunately, on this occasion there's a poster.
"You see us as you want to see us … in the simplest of terms, in the most convenient definitions," it reads in barely legible scribble next to some pack of brats. "But what we found out is each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club."
Within moments, each of us has one index finger glued to either Ally Sheedy or Molly Ringwald before a shared connecting glance draws both of our hands in the direction of Anthony Michael Hall. I'm demented, he's sad, and we're not at the Social. No, tonight marks the second installment of a Church Street concept anomaly, Deca-Dance, an affair that is meant to convert the upper-crust mahogany of 23 into a multimedia smirk of synthesized megalomania and pastel blazers. But as exciting a prospect as an irony-free '80s night in Orlando might seem in our immediate blurts of know-it-all contextualization, the presence of a Goonies poster next to an Anarchy in the U.K. poster next to a Mötley Crüe: Decade of Decadence poster — each slapped to the wall at varying angles — doesn't bode well for the proceedings. Nor does the fact that — except for the staff draped in striped tube dresses (girls) and headbands (boys) — there is nobody here.
"This place should be full of Don Johnsons and Michael Douglases," Tony Wall Streets by way of Miami. "I should be able to use a line like, ‘Ooh, you've got rusty pipes!'"
"You know, cocaine is really happening right now," I sniffle in a serious fashion. "I read it in the New York Times."
Unfortunately, it's not really happening here, though, so Tony and I grab some droplets off the top shelf and take to a bench in the corner to further assemble a useless conversation. Bret Easton Ellis pops in for a second (because he always does), then comes Jami Gertz, followed sloppily by Robert Downey Jr., who has a piece of Demi Moore's hair stuck to his shoe. "Singgggggggggg blue silverrrrrrrrrrrr," blares the obligatory Duran from the flat-screens, where lesbian bondage mistresses are engaging in an exposed-nipple hand dance.
"I … am … so … happy … right … now," I Gertz.
"Yeah, for the next three minutes and 37 seconds," Tony Spaders.
A gaggle of people who aren't really people slowly congeals a few minutes later, one plastic-tittied homeowner/trust-fundie eventually spurting out a sentiment that mutes the music and means nothing at the very same time.
It isn't. But it isn't awful, either, especially when superstar DJ relic Kimball Collins — who has, you should know, been living in Thailand (?) — dips down from the overhead DJ booth to invite us up to fondle his control panels. Some lengthy extrapolations of "smart" and "'80s" follow as Collins drops burnt and mastered DVDs into some sort of digital turntables that light up like they're spinning, even though they don't need to. He's essentially spinning images, which is exactly what my head is starting to do after the root-of-it-all Jim Faherty buys me a double to rub up against further discussion of new wave obscurities and the videos that blew them up.
"Omigod," I elbow Tony and point in the direction of a potential Izod fatality at the bar. "Patrick Bateman is totally staring at me!"
Collins, like everybody in this town, is mildly disappointed in the diminishing returns inherent in any well-thought-out Orlando night-life plan — that means you, hideous Realtor's wife — but he seems happy to know that somebody else still remembers that Frankie once went to Hollywood when boys didn't cry. I love him, which means it's time to go.
And go we do, all the way down the Orange Avenue thoroughfare to the drip pan of Orlando's nostalgic impulse overrun, Independent Bar, weaving our way through the inexplicable masses that still line the entrance to Tabu, peg-legging past Bar-BQ-Bar, and ending up, once again, in nowheresville. Did the '80s finally die in Orlando? Did I not get the memo?
Inside, co-ed shortbus-riders are Linus-dancing to some indie shit by the Walkmen, and I'm holding myself up with my rickety rib cage on the bar ledge. The Smiths come on, Tony says something about "This Charming Man" being like the White Album for generation Z, and I give up.
We breeze back by Bar-BQ just long enough to have somebody roll his eyes at us about the Tabu crowd, and for us to roll our eyes right back at him about the doe-eyed Doherty dirt in which he's bathing, like any of it really matters. It doesn't.
Then, at the crosswalk, the most amazing thing happens. Well, not thing: person.
"You're Greenwich Village," he gruffs. "And you're Wall Street," because Tony and I are, only in reverse.
He says his name is Ernest, he's a writer — a homeless writer — and he's seen it all: abusive cops, gangsters, drugs, love. He used to work on Wall Street.
"What happened?" I princess, with a touch of basket case.
"Too much partying, too many drugs," he shakes his head, smiling.
The '80s, then. Irony, firstname.lastname@example.org