Songwriters: Ed Kowalczyk, Tricky
Original Release: V
Definitive Version: none
Things were looking up as summer 2001 wound down, but 9/11 and the fallout from the Wheels section debacle took its toll. With the end of the baseball season nigh, I was looking for some comfort in what was an increasingly cold world.
And where I found comfort was at Dockside Dolls.
Even though I worked in Flint for nearly five years, I wasn’t a connoisseur of the many fine dance establishments there—I think they had 17 while I was there. In fact, a foamy No. 1 hand could count the number of times I had gone to such a venue: once in 1991, and it was in Canada.
I went to Canada twice more, as I recounted, in 1996 for Scott’s bachelor party, but it wasn’t until I visited Dave and Doug in Flint in 1999 where my view of “the ballet” changed from being somewhat jokey to more erotic (story to come).
So it was with that in mind that I decided to check out Columbus’ dance scene. I was single again; I didn’t have to answer to anyone. If I wanted a lap dance, I didn’t have to justify it to anyone. All I had to do was come up with enough cash.
Dockside Dolls was (it’s long gone now) on the north side of town and a fairly new place. At least other places in town, like Columbus Gold or Centerfolds, I’d heard of before. I don’t know why I chose it except for its location. It was about a mile east of I-71 on a frontage road along Dublin-Granville Road, about four miles from my apartment. It also appeared from the outside to be more upscale. It was.
It also was bigger than any other club I’d been in except the Million Dollar Saloon in Windsor. When you walked in from the foyer after paying the $10 cover, you entered the main stage room where the stage was up front along with the DJ booth. Booths were along the wall and a few dozens tables were situated on two levels around the main stage.
Toward the back of the room toward to entryway, were two small stages and the bar on a third level. Walking past the bar in the opposite direction from the main stage was the Gold Room. Around the Gold Room on the other side were the bathrooms and the Champagne Room.
Like any other club, I suppose, the main room had mirror-adorned walls and enough pink neon to make the owners of the Flamingo in Las Vegas take notice. But what was most notable was the smell. I couldn’t name the fragrance; it was a mixture of candy and flowers, and it permeated everything as soon as you walked in the door. It was as though all the dancers bathed in this particular body spray and it was sprayed around the room. Every once in a while, I’d be out in public and catch a whiff of that same fragrance. To this day, it flips my switch.
The deal at Dockside Dolls was like at a lot of other places: Each dancer would be on the main stage for two songs and then go to each of the other two stages for an additional two. From there you could approach them to come over to your table for a public dance ($10) or back in the Gold Room for a more private dance ($30). Naturally, the whole goal was to get you back in the Gold Room (if not the Champagne Room, which was $250 for a half-hour).
The unique component for Dockside Dolls was Up Time. Up Time was 2-for-1, and every dancer who wasn’t already otherwise attached would stroll out from the stage and solicit the patrons. Up Time meant Gold Room time.
The first time I went in fall 2001, I hung back at a table out of the main line of fire but with a view of all three stages. My plan, as it always is in situations where I’m uncomfortable, was to hang back and observe. That way I could figure out the procedure and not look like a spaz. Besides, I had only so much money: I wasn’t going to waste it indiscriminately.
Before long, I saw where I was going to waste it. The dancer’s stage name was Dakota, and she was by far the hottest woman there, not only in how she looked but in how she moved. She was dark-skinned with an exotic look, and if she hated her job, like most of the dancers, it sure didn’t show on stage. Unlike the others, she looked at the patrons and not so much herself in the mirror. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, but she soon disappeared. Someone else already moved on in, so I lost out.
Or so I thought. After a while, the Labatt’s took their toll, so I went to the bathroom. When I came back, I saw Dakota again. She had changed into an electric green bra and G string and had heels that might have made her 5-6, with a long, sheer, bluish-white nightgown draped over her shoulders. Woah!
I didn’t crash into a waitress, but I did get Dakota’s attention and asked for a dance. She said she was getting a drink and would come over to my table. When she did, it just happened to be Up Time. Good timing.
We went back into the Gold Room, which was, like most such rooms that I’ve seen, mirror and sofa lined and dimly lit. Dakota took me to a corner spot, so, as she said, she could work on me more, and I said a silent prayer asking for the next two songs to be Thick As A Brick (the whole thing) and Karn Evil 9 (also the whole thing).
They weren’t, but fortunately they weren’t Fifties tunes, either, you know, a minute 30, two minutes tops. Up Time turned into regular time, and two dances turned into a half-dozen. Dakota definitely had me under her spell, and I wasn’t interested in breaking it.
It was worth every penny, but it also wiped me out for the night. Like Vegas, you need to have a set amount of spending money when you attend the ballet, and you need to go home when it’s gone. It was time to go home.
Dakota said she wanted me to come back and see her again. I said, you can count on it—in twenties if you wish.