Once I danced until sunrise. Now I just try to make it through "Law & Order."
William "Mac" McCormack will kick your ass. The owner of Richmond's finest punk-rock Irish pub is renowned for his relentless birthday paddling, regardless of your size or stature. My diminutive frame was almost cracked in two on many a celebratory occasion. When I skipped this year's whacking for a casual become a reformed party girl.
Barely a year ago, evenings would cookout with friends, I came to the startling realization that, only one year into my thirties, before the ink on my tattoos has even begun to fade, I have begin at 11, when consumption of any hard liquor mixed with Red Bull would fuel dance parties throughout the city -- anywhere from Godfrey's on East Grace Street to Mars Bar on 18th Street. And always, at last call, the masses would spill onto the sidewalk scrambling for someone, anyone, with the golden ticket to Fieldens.
A members-only, after-hours club, Fieldens asks that you either pay your dues or become best friends with someone who does by 2:30 a.m. These parties would then last until we'd all come rolling out in the hours before dawn, thinking of breakfast and/or/in bed. As a former member, however, my fondest memories come from nights open to the public known as the Bal de Sade (every August) and the Black & Blue Ball (in March).
Yes, kids AŸï¨«'A,.AŸ.ï¨«.ï¨«ï¨«�A,ï¨«AŸï¨«ï¨«A,ï¨« I'm talking about the fetish extravaganzas that found me in a cage surrounded by beautiful, leather-clad gay men on a sweltering dance floor. I've never felt more like Madonna in my life. From vendors peddling gag balls and cane crops upstairs to the rubber-suit-with-only-a-breathing-tube fellow who complimented my friend's vinyl nurse's outfit with an approving thumbs-up and a muffled grunt, the mood was always festive. Sure, there are hardcore folks there for a "different reason," but overall the vibe is that of a mid-year Halloween.
But for some, that isn't enough. After one of the aforementioned birthday beatings at McCormack's a little more than a year ago, some friends and I stumbled into what used to be Bottom Billiards, now known as Fallout. Pure evil genius, this dark little gem is, from the wartime memorabilia, chain-link swing and "In Case of Zombie" chainsaw encased in glass. While Fieldens caters to those who want to dress up once or twice a year, Fallout satiates costume cravings on a weekly basis.
Hunter Haglund, media consultant for Fallout, explains that the crowd is "25 percent people who are hardcore, 25 percent people who want to watch those people and thenï¨« the other half who think it's Halloween all year long." A recent samurai/geisha dress-up affair packed the place to capacity. There's a little something for everyone: Rocky Horror live events, rotating fetish and costume themes on Friday and Saturday nights, and talk of burlesque in the future. Recently, the decision was made to become a members' club, ensuring that revelers didn't become a sideshow for some of the Bottom's less-than-sober inhabitants. But some midweek nights are still open to the public. It's not an all-night affair like Fieldens, but you can have it more frequently. It's like Cheers AŸï¨«'A,.AŸ.ï¨«.ï¨«ï¨«�A,ï¨«AŸï¨«ï¨«A,ï¨« if Norm had a pierced lip and Cliff sported green fingernails. And so the next generation goes where everybody knows your game.
These days, I can no longer manage to catch the end of any "Law & Order" episode. I'm now in my jammies when I used to be on my first round. Perhaps one night I'll set the alarm for a bit of midnight frolic. Fallout is worth dragging myself out of bed for, and hell, maybe I'll find a friend on the sidewalk who can get me into Fieldens. After all, at 4 a.m. one can certainly justify a Smirnoff grape mimosa served up by a man in hot pants as a prelude to that trip to Denny's just as the sun's rising, right?