But only in that cheesy-bad way, not evil-bad.
At least that's what we concluded after a night at Orlando's 21. We were lured to this Northland bar by its Thursday night drinkfest. Ladies pay $5 and guys $6 for all-you-can-stomach wells and Natural Light from 9 to 10:30.
Located near Antioch Mall, Orlando's 21 shares strip-mall space with that quintessential Midwestern landmark, Godfather's Pizza. When we pulled into the parking lot, we had a moment of doubt. We spotted a trio of young-looking types hanging out in front, and despite the fact that the club name includes the number 21, we wondered whether we had stumbled onto a dreaded 18-and-over night.
Research Assistant John came up with a plan: "If that's the case, then we have to pretend that we're a swinger couple looking for a third. It's just more dignified that way."
Thankfully, we didn't need to break out the cover story the place is strictly 21-plus. Once inside, we made a beeline for one of the side bars. Etiquette be damned, we double-fisted the small servings of beer. As we staked out a spot by the dance floor, we pondered just how the bar could stay solvent with such a deal. Obviously, the gender differential in the cover price somehow makes up for it.
The spacious interior includes a medium-sized dance floor near the front, a plethora of high-top tables, two bar areas and a silver-painted tin ceiling. Over in one nook, a group of guys in polo shirts intently watched an Ultimate Fighting bout on TV.
However, the real entertainment was a guy dancing by himself on the dance floor, which caused a flock of chickies to squeal, "He's back out there!" We craned our necks and saw the object of their scrutiny: a thin, older guy with a gray ponytail dressed in a tight white T-shirt and jeans. As Young MC's "Bust a Move" blared over the speakers (yes, we requested that song), the man shot his right arm up and down in time to the beat while his right leg tapped along. He bobbed his head and contorted his face to Young MC's dulcet tones.
There was something about his dance style that seemed familiar. Then it struck us. We had interviewed Donnie at Funky Town ("Get the Funk Out," June 30, 2005). Back then, he was clad in a homemade shirt that read, "Don't flatter yourself I was looking at your friend." Donnie told us at Funky Town that his dancetastic moves at various suburban clubs had made him kind of a local celeb. When we went up to say hi, Donnie said he remembered us, then went back to his ass-shakery.
We got some more beer and met a few of our fellow cheap drinkers. A group of brash duders, who wanted to remain anonymous, told us their nickname for the place: Whorelando's 21. Why is that, gentlemen?
"Just come here," one of them said. "Free drinks, free women."
After a few drinks, the crowd flocked to the dance floor, where Grindfest '07 commenced. A woman in a bolero denim jacket sandwiched herself between two friends, while later, another chick humped a support beam in time to Fergie's "London Bridge." The atmosphere was cheesy but enjoyable. Then again, four Natty Lights tend to make everything better.
The music to which such mashery occurred included Yukmouth's "Still Ballin'" and the annoying "Butterfly" by Crazy Town. As the easily stuck-in-your-head chant of come, my lady, come, come my lady rang out, a box mounted from the ceiling spastically shot off strands of neon green laser lights. The effect recalled Jennifer Lopez's video for "Waiting for Tonight," which also featured green laser lights and caused many a seizure back in the day. We had to move out of the path of the lights before we started writhing on the ground.
The early-'00 hits continued when the DJ put on Las Ketchup's "Ketchup Song."
Unlike the people in that video, the crowd at Orlando's didn't break out in Macarena-inspired group dancing moves. At the end of the song, the DJ announced, "We're playing this for all the legal Hispanics!"
Um, did he just say that? Out loud? Welcome to the green-card-only Northland.
The crowd seemed indifferent to politically charged banter and continued to grind. The DJ went back to the music, periodically announcing drink specials during the night, which included 2-for-1 Jäger shots. Speaking of which, we also encountered a roving shot girl, who carried a tray of $1.75 concoctions, including something called a Juicy Clit. She described it as "milky," which should never be used to describe a shot let alone something called a Juicy Clit.
Then a bit o' drama occurred over a gratis Jäger shot. It happened at the side of the dance floor, where a square platform rose about four feet above the ground. On it were two women rubbing up on each other. One had short dark hair and tattoos; she had tied the bottom of her white tank top into a knot, exposing most of her midriff. The other woman wore tight blue jeans and had done the same thing with her white tank top. Moments later, Tight Jeans got off the platform, leaving Samantha the woman with dark hair up there alone.
We started talking to Tight Jeans, who told us that, despite the friendly platform rubfest, she didn't know Samantha at all. However, that didn't stop her from being miffed. Apparently, Tight Jean's friend bought Samantha a shot and she didn't say thank you. Nor did she introduce herself. "She's self-centered," sniffed Tight Jeans.
Nearby, two guys stood around, taking in the spectacle. "She got stuck in that cage," said 22-year-old Aaron of Samantha's penchant for platform hogging. He added, "I'm going to hell." Then he came up with a great description of the tower: "It's a stage without a pole, I guess."
Now that's good.