Volume 2, Number 2 -- February, 1997

The Drunk Tank

by Your Scroomers

 In this month's Drunktank we are going to look at a problem that we have all experienced at one time or another. We are going to tell the tale of two nightclubs.
 When we first discovered "Toons" at 2nd and San Carlos in downtown San Jose, it was a burgeoning hotspot. Granted, on the weekends it was too crowded to move, but the crowd consisted of some stunning babes. Yes, it often took you upwards of twenty minutes to get a beer, but the waitresses were also babes. OK, parking was a pain, the lines could be horrendous and the fifty cent beers couldn't get a squirrel drunk...did I mention there were babes?
 To get to the point, Toons is a nightclub, at one time a damn good nightclub, a club where you could go on a Tuesday night and find at least a few babes. Toons also boasts live music seven nights a week. They were cover bands, which is exactly what you want in a club. As a friend once said, "All I want from a band in this place is to stay the hell out of the way." Most of the bands fit this bill nicely, some did more than that. One band in particular, The Gents, is the finest cover band we have ever experienced. If you think that "the finest cover band " is something of backhanded compliment then you haven't seen very many cover bands. For the most part they want to be more than a cover band and so aren't very adequate at it. Not The Gents though... imagine your favorite alternative radio station. Now imagine all of your favorite songs speeded up a notch. Nothing outrageous mind you, just enough to make them that much more danceable. The Gents know that they are there to fuel the party and nothing more, and for that we are eternally grateful.
 As a matter of fact, Toons' decline can be traced to the moment The Gents stopped being the house band on Wednesday nights. At one time, Wednesdays were better than the weekends. The crowds were a bit more manageable, service was a little quicker and there was a certain vibe that prevailed. Then, for one reason or another, we arrived at Toons on a Wednesday to find a different band playing. A quick scan of the schedule confirmed that The Gents had indeed been bumped from Wednesday nights. We scanned the crowd and found there had been noticeable a lessening in the babe quotient. Nothing major mind you, but there were fewer than usual. We wrote it off to a slow night and promised to come back soon.
 We returned of course, this time on a weekend when we knew The Gents were playing. They were their normal eminently danceable selves. Unfortunately, being a weekend, there was no room whatsoever to dance. Even if there had been room, there was no one to dance with that night. The babe quotient was nearly negative. Somehow word must have gotten out that Toons was "the hot place" and the crowds have soon followed. As anyone that discovers a new club can tell you, the worst thing that can happen to a nightclub is too much popularity. There is that magical moment, sometimes only a few weeks, sometimes as long as a year, when the masses haven't discovered your little spot. The people are all there for the same thing and there is a sense of community. When a club becomes popular though, the crowds come without knowing anything about the place, only that it is "hot". These are the people that tend to stand in the middle of the dance floor or move chairs into the aisles or load up on the cheap beer specials and get thrown out. Then friends, it is time to find yourself a new club, because your old one is dead.
 We have gone back to Toons since that evening. The lure of nostalgia dies hard after all. Usually we will notice that The Gents are playing and decide to give the place another shot. It is always the same though, the regulars are all gone, the crowds are suffocating, the beer is warm. Need we even say it, the babe quotient has gone deep negative. Getting to the bathrooms or a pool table are a distant memory. Popularity has killed this bar for us, if you have never been, by all means check it out. If The Gents are playing you will see one the best cover bands ever to strap on guitars. The service is no worse than most clubs, the beer selection is more than adequate and if you have never been to Toons before, you really won't realize what you've missed.

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