Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No. 505 – Venus

Performer: Bananarama
Songwriter: Robbie Van Leeuwen
Original Release: True Confessions
Year: 1986
Definitive Version: None

When the time came for Scott’s bachelor party in April 1996, everything was all set. It would be a weekend in Detroit for the wedding party plus one other guy. I would pick up the tab for everyone in the wedding part; the extra dude was on his own (and was OK with it).

The bachelor weekend was a two-part affair, and I’ll talk about the first part another time. The main event was the second part: Saturday night. That night the plan was to drive across the river to Windsor, Canada.

As I mentioned, I scouted various dance establishments earlier that year and determined that Cheetah’s provided the best venue. After I got home, I made a reservation for the proper night. Then I told Scott to spread the word: When we go to Detroit, have everyone bring their suits.

That Saturday, we spent most of the day hanging out around the Red Roof Inn in Dearborn where we had two rooms. Finally, it was time to start getting ready. Even though everyone complied with my request, there was much bitching about having to dress up. Do they really have to, Scott asked.

Where we were going—a gentlemen’s club—wasn’t a secret. But these guys were from Indiana, which meant they knew Indiana clubs, if anything. This was a bit more upscale. “Trust me” was all I said.

We drove in two groups through the downtown tunnel, and everyone was instructed when asked at the border to give the same answer: We were going to Don Cherry’s (true) and the casino (also true). We just didn’t tell the whole truth—as if they didn’t know, a bunch of guys in their 20s.

Don Cherry’s, of course, is a steak-and-ribs place (or at least was) named for the legendary hockey commentator in Canada. It wasn’t too fancy—or, more important, expensive—so it was up everyone’s alley. It’s like a better hockey-themed Chili’s.

We were the only ones in the place in suits, which wasn’t a bad thing, because at one point, the host came over and asked if we were going anywhere after. When we said Cheetah’s, he came back and gave us all complimentary-entrance passes—a savings of about $75. The less you spend on admission, the more you have for the dancers.

We feasted on ribs and steak, and then it was time for the cultural part of the evening. At Cheetah’s, we were greeted at the door by a tuxedo-wearing host, and when I gave him the name, he motioned for us. Right this way, gentlemen. Scott was impressed.

He was more impressed when the host took us to two tables next to the stage and even more impressed when he kicked out two mopes who were sitting there before us. The sign on the tables did say “Reserved” after all.

The rest of the night was mostly a blur of beautiful women. Unfortunately, my favorite dancer from last time—the plaid-skirted schoolgirl—wasn’t there. Somehow I survived. My new favorite was a redhead (dyed) clad in red leather who had killer eyes. Her thing was lots of eye contact, which worked for me. I can’t tell you how many dances I bought from her, but whatever the amount, it was worth every penny.

I can’t remember Scott’s favorite, but the group favorite if a vote were taken was a dancer named Venus, who had a penchant for grabbing the trapeze at the front of the stage and spreading her legs to the audience in a very un-ladylike—but much applauded—fashion. Keep in mind, Cheetah’s is fully nude.

After one particularly excellent display, I turned to John, Shani’s brother, and said, “Yeah, she’s my Venus; she’s my fire; she’s my desire.” John reacted with both surprise that I would quote from THAT song and approval that it was, of course, the perfect choice. (And it explains why I have to tell this story now.)

We closed the place down, and everyone was so supercharged from the culture that no one was ready to go home. OK, then let’s head to the casino, which was a relatively new addition to the Windsor nightlife and not far from Cheetah’s.

We toured the place, and a few guys—realizing we weren’t in the U.S. any more—said they wanted to get some legendary Cuban cigars, which, of course, are perfectly legal in Canada. They lit up, and the group held a Cheetah’s post-mortem. Soon enough, everyone was singing my praises.

It wasn’t as extreme as it had been in Don Cherry’s, but we still were among the few suit-wearers at Cheetah’s. This, which I had noted during my scouting trip, had a positive benefit, or as the others in the wedding party exclaimed in affirmation, “They were ALL going past everyone else and coming to OUR tables.” All I could do was nod knowingly. Didn’t I say, trust me?

Well, I might have subsidized the crew’s table dances, but I wasn’t about to cover their gambling losses. We broke off into small groups and went on our own. Scott and I played the slots for a while, and when we finally called it a night, the clock was closing in on 4 a.m.

It had been quite a night, and I felt I had sent Scott into matrimony properly. Hey, Scott and Shani have been together nearly 17 years now, so the evidence backs me up on that.

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