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Slide with a side of attitude 

Wednesday, Sep 20 2006
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According to folks in the know, a new San Francisco club called Slide was opening last week and it was simply the place to see and be seen. Being a member of the upper echelon of the hoi polloi, I knew I simply had to be there. I also knew that any place that had a reputation as a new hot spot, yet had generated said reputation via a series of publicists, would have to be extremely exclusive. Totally.

Slide is a dimly lit and sultry club that has used the brown end of the Pantone color scale to create its décor. It exists in the bowels of nearby Ruby Skye, making it, I suppose, a sort of Amber Hell.

The place is indeed quite visually striking. There's an alabaster bar that is lit from within, sea urchin diaphragm thingies adorning the ceiling, Sinatra-style booths squishing out of the entire perimeter with blue-lit ice buckets on each of the tables, a DJ booth that looks like a grand piano, subtle video screens showing scenes from Union Square, and harlequin diamonds hither and tither for one more bit of oomph. Whoever designed this place was talented. However, methinks that they also went for broke and threw every visual idea they'd ever had for a club into one place.

Then there was the bar's namesake — an actual tube slide made from nice wood that you could whoosh down into the club. A woman stood at the top with a walkie-talkie. "We've got a slider," she'd say into it, then she would instruct you to watch your head and off you'd go.

So there we were, me and three friends, two of whom had freshly slid, standing in the middle of the room listening to '30s-style jazz and '80s hits. The theme of the night was "speakeasy." A few outgoing women were dressed as flappers and traipsed around like 35-year-old Betty Boops. It was opening night, the motif was based on debauchery, and we were ready for our free drinks.

Ha. No free drinks. In fact, most of the drinks were around $15. I had a Stoli for $8, which is like paying $10 for a McGriddle.

We decided to sit. All of the booths had ornate "Reserved" signs on them, although they were dead empty. We sat down in one and began to talk. "I don't really care about gangster/Prohibition stuff," I said to my friend Frances. It's just not an era I am drawn to. Frances had sort of a soft spot for speakeasies, since she is from Detroit and they had a lot of them there. Her friend grew up in a house that had a tunnel to Canada underneath it. For some odd reason an entire car had been buried in her yard as well. Each year after the winter thaw, more and more car parts would reach the surface of their lawn. I pictured the Motor City's answer to the La Brea Tar Pits.

"They also had a spooky room," she continued. "No one wanted to go into it, it had 'weird vibes.'"

Whoa! I love stories like this. Frances continued: "Well, come to find out, a 9-year-old girl had been killed by gangsters for snitching, and her body was supposedly stuffed into the wall ... "

"Excuse me," said a gentleman. He was impeccably groomed and looked like Ari from Entourage but with more hair. He pressed his palms together and bent his knees ever so slightly so that he could get down to our level. "Are you members of the [it sounded like] Schtumpowitz party?" There was a brief pause wherein we all weighed the pros and cons of answering "Yes," but in the end honesty prevailed. He was, of course, sorry to inform us that we had to get up, since the table was reserved for other people who, like the inhabitants of all of the other reserved tables, were nowhere to be seen. He had the mild sneer of someone with a lot of money at stake in a wacky new club venture.

"I thought this was opening night," I blurted out. "We are from the press and we want to sit down for a second." Wow. I sounded like Lindsay Lohan demanding an extra cabana boy at the Chateau Marmont. Ari informed me that it was NOT opening night, that opening night had occurred the previous evening, meaning that we would've been more welcome the previous night and that on this night, unless our name was Schtumpowitz, we were shit out of luck. I could tell that he was running out of patience. (Actually, Ari, if you want to get technical, the club was having a series of five "opening nights," so it was in fact an "opening night.")

As we rose up, a younger guy who worked there apologized, not only for the fact that we had to move, but also it seemed, for his colleague with the major baton up his ass.

From there I tried to mingle, but my heart wasn't in it. I met a guy who ran clubs and restaurants for rich people. He kissed me on both cheeks and had the sniffles that can only come from booger-sugar. I watched the video screens of the people in Union Square who were sitting at tables and taking things out of their backpacks and then putting them back in again. Frances told me another ghost story about a lady who was killed in a house that her friend lived in and who had relived her ordeal every evening for the benefit of the new tenants. One day her friend's dad was found crawling up the stairs saying the same phrase over and over, "On my belly like a snake. On my belly like a snake."

When we left we had to take the stairs and it occurred to me that sliding into a place is one thing, but it would really be great to be sucked back out again. I'll talk to Ari. He seems like an expert on sucking up.

Out in the street we all made future plans and said our goodbyes. At my feet there was some sort of a hole in the sidewalk. A deep, dark tunnel of a hole, barely 4 inches across. I bet you could drop tiny little barrels of gin into the other end of this hole from Canada and they would slide across the continent and end up right there on Mason Street. We all pondered this. Then we went home. —Katy St. Clair

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Katy St. Clair

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