One Trusty Concept, Two Clubs, One Star

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Posted August 8, 2007 by Last Call in Clubs

I won’t go as far as saying that the Big Apple is biting off us, but a new themed club just opened in the West Village that bears an awfully close resemblance to one of our relatively new themed clubs.

The place’s décor is rustic-Cuban, the house band plays Cuban music, and, according to The New York Times, there’s a photo of Fidel Castro sitting next to Lauren Bacall on one of the walls. Sound like any Fort Worth club that we know?
At worst, Socialista is a glaring but New York-styled rip-off of Embargo. At best, the creation of a 1940s-Havana-themed club in the toughest nightclub market in the world is evidence that great – or at least progressive – minds think alike.

What Embargo has going for it that the New York club doesn’t, however, is legitimacy. Embargo adheres – somewhat accidentally, but still – to the working-man ethos that built modern-day Cuba: All people, including Fort Worthians, are created equal. There are no snooty doormen at Embargo to turn you away for “lacking energy” – which is really just an inane, pompous, downright stupid New York way of saying “being thin, fashionable, and hot” – and Embargo doesn’t distinguish between celebs and normal folk. Maybe because there is no such thing as a celebrity here, and New York runs rampant with ‘em, but I’ve been to Embargo about a dozen times, and I’ve never felt any more or less welcome than any of the employees’ friends or family members. At Socialista, whose investors include Sting and his wife and Harvey Weinstein, not just anybody can walk in.

The club’s lip-service to egalitarianism, according to the Times, takes the form of treating celebs like the non-celebs. But when the non-celebs are as hot or as rich as the celebs, is there really a difference? Owner Armin Amiri “admits that gaining entrance to the upstairs lounge is a long shot for most,” according to the Times. “He says that once you are inside, celebrity and money hold no special privilege. ‘If [celebs] come, fine, but there is no baby-sitting here.’” Yeah, right. Leave it to a New Yorker to make an inherent contradiction – a Fort Worth way of saying “bold-faced, yella-belly lie!” – sound profound. Don’t get me wrong: I love New York.

I lived there for a few years back in the day, and, while most of the folks are cold and inhospitable, I did develop a few lifelong friends. But if getting dressed up and going out for a frickin drink requires waiting in line for hours – and without the guarantee of admittance! – I’d rather take my chances in Dall-ass. And another thing: Embargo is really about us plainfolk. The club has hosted spoken-word poetry slams (trés anti-capitalist) and, starting in early September, Adonis Rose and his Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra will be hosting a weekly jazz jam for UTA student musicians – it’s part of the orchestra’s mentoring program. Maybe Sting’ll show up with his recherché platitudes, yoga clothes, and Kenny Kirkland and Branford Marsalis in tow and set jazz back another hundred years. Hopefully, the Embargo bouncers will make him talk to the hand for “lack of energy.” And sucking.

Contact Last Call at lastcall fwweekly.com.


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