By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
The sun shimmers across the Marina Sunday afternoon as a raucous line of 50 customers in summerwear and shades stands outside the Paragon Bar & Grill for its fourth annual beach party blowout. Complete with live music, 20 tons of sand, and a shitload of booze, the weekend-long party has already played host to about 4,000 people -- many of whom wait in line again, today, for another chance to cram their die-hard party bodies into the already at-capacity room.
While the up-beat, horn-riddled rhythms of Undercover S.K.A. reach the street, the sound is body-muffled at best. Regardless, the streetbound customers bounce happily to the beat, hitting the palm fronds dangling from the canopies overhead. An immense blowup Bacardi bottle glints on the rooftop -- a beacon to anyone within a three-block radius. A clutch of sun-bronzed gals stands in the street merrily chatting on a cell phone and watching the line as it moves slowly toward the front door.
A doorman appears from a side entrance and validates us with a quick smile and a nod. Inside, past checkered tables where people suck rock-shrimp-quesadilla juice from their greasy fingers; past the band, whose sharp suits and slicked-back hair make them appear both stylish and freakishly overdressed; past the Bacardi hut and the windsurfer -- past all that and into a pit of jiggling, gyrating, beer-induced abandon we plunge.
The sweat, sand, and booze are inescapable. The band is loud. A woman in a minisarong giggles and falls into the arms of a tan man with white shorts and whiter teeth. Manish, a 26-year-old Paragon regular, jumps up on a tabletop and sets to bumping and grinding with two young females; red-nosed revelers in the sand below applaud enthusiastically.
"You should've seen the party we were at at 9 this morning," says Steve, a beer-happy mate of Manish's from Vermont. "This is nothing." He smiles as a crush of squealing women with the Friends do presses past. A spray of ice cubes rains down from somewhere on high. Manish beams, his pink leis careening wildly and his Afro-wig sliding down his head at a crazy angle.
"Did you use that notebook to write down phone numbers?" guffaws a passer-by. I smile halfheartedly. Everyone within reach careens to get a look at what I have written.
"No, you need a quote, don't you?" concludes another 26-year-old partygoer. He identifies himself as Jack McDufflepuss. "OK, [the Paragon] needs to be crazier! There needs to be more people! So many that I can't move or drink my drink!" At that a new influx of humanity jostles McDufflepuss' drinking arm. Beer and sand blend, leaving a small puddle of mud at his feet.
"Did I mention that I drink a lot," he continues, without concern, "and that I love women and that there are a lot of women here that I could love?"
At a table behind me, Marti -- a 24-year-old female Leo -- discusses astrology with a young, quiet Cancer. This mating ritual is a tad subtle for the average Paragon dweller. It tends to lose out to approaches based on sudden assaults and the law of averages.
"Hey, wriiiiter-girrrrl," leers a large, sweating man as he boogies in my direction, all pelvic thrust and jiggle. "What do you say?" He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. I try grimly to look unapproachable. Undaunted, he quickly locates another target, grabbing a nearby woman with whom to bust a rug.
Moments later there's a sneak attack from the flank. A man grabs my face and whispers wetly in my ear. "You're a doll," he says. Alarmed, I go in search of my photographer and comrade in arms, David Duprey.
"I already took your picture," Duprey is explaining to a mob of women with frosted tips. Even before a rum-happy bearded man falls to his knees to beg for "just one morrrre photo," Duprey has the air of a man on the edge.
The band, concluding its 3-1/2-hour set, steps out for some fresh air. Determined to make their own fun, the Paragon revelers erupt into a rousing Counting Crows sing-along in which "Mr. Jones" is sung with unmatched sincerity.
"We bribed a doorman to sneak us in through the kitchen," says a calm 33-year-old Marina resident with a laugh. "Five bucks a head."
I smile and make my way for the exit.
"Did you get mauled?" asks Amy, the conscientious assistant manager of Paragon. I nod.
"Yeah, that happens," she says, smiling.
In the Marina, college need never end.