A while back at a Westside bar, a small bachelorette party rolled in and had a couple drinks. When time came to settle up, the woman (not a regular) who started the tab with her credit card raised a stink, claiming that she’d been overcharged, even though the owner, who happened to be helping out behind the bar, didn’t charge her full price for certain drinks.

She and the owner argued back and forth, before finally the woman wrote on her receipt in the space reserved for her signature, “Fuck you!,” and stormed out. Merry Christmas to you too.

A few other bar owners I talked to over the past week have had comparable, crappy experiences. The topic came up a couple of weeks ago when some scenesters and I were grousing over Christmastime scams, the oldest of which is the gift card trick. A wily customer can take a used gift card, a flexible one, like from MasterCard or American Express, which works in any store, and go into a club he’s never been in before, set up a tab, drink for hours, and then walk the check, leaving the bar with no way to collect a single dime.


Unlike with the example of the bachelorette party, a club owner can’t beat the gift card scam once it’s been perpetrated. Same goes for faulty magnetic strips. They leave the merchant no choice but to type in the credit card number, and in this age of identity theft, all the perp has to do is say, “I didn’t go to the bar on that day. My Uncle Hank probably memorized my credit card number and had the bartender key it in.” Bada-bing, bada-boom: free booze.

A veteran Chase Visa service agent who spoke to me off the record said that nine times out of 10, the perp is a career scammer and will get caught for one thing or another. And usually the credit card company, not the merchant, ends up eating the cost. But that’s small comfort to the dozens if not hundreds of other local club honchos who’ve been victimized by thieves. A few bucks goes a long way in fickle Clubland.

Into the Drink

The new Sundance Square-area swank spot Aqua Lounge has a lot going for it. The service isn’t fast, like Matt-Layton/Embargo-fast, but it’s fast enough, and it’s definitely friendly. Also, some of the staffers will make your head spin and heart ache, and most of them aren’t even from Dallas. We’re talking Grade-A, Cowtown fineness. (I know. I inquired.) Not like you have a shot, though, loser. As for the room, it’s open and spacious, and it’s on the second floor of a cool old building, which provides a rather scenic view of The Pour House and the parking lot across the street. (What? You were expecting the Manhattan skyline?) The space isn’t any larger or smaller than the average near-Sundance club, but since it’s so open, you could easily see yourself getting lost in the mix once Aqua starts packing ’em in. My only quibble, and it’s no doubt a teensy-weensy complaint, has to do with one particular piece of furniture, a white couch that’s like a cross between a day-bed and, well, a day-bed with two or three pillows propped up on it. It’s comfortable only if you lie flat across it or stand next to it. But c’mon: When one seat is the worst that a curmudgeon like me can say, you know the joint ain’t no, um, dive.

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