I read a recent article in The New York Times about the death of the club—a eulogy for The Scene and all its attendant pretension. Next to photos of once exclusive bars made over to look like your parents' basement, with miniature beer kegs occupying the space where Champagne once sat, it bade a wistful farewell to the age of velvet ropes.
Gone are the days when an impassive behemoth guarded the door, blatantly scanning the queue of would-be revelers for visual clues of wealth and status, when four figures could buy you the privilege of sitting down to enjoy a $35 bottle of Grey Goose and a carafe of watered-down cranberry. Gone are the days when cocktail waitresses wielded unimaginable power and bathroom attendants stared at you expectantly after handing you a towel you could have easily grabbed yourself.
Aww. Almost makes you a little nostalgic, doesn't it?
Fear not. Just as speakeasies have sprung up to cater to that niche market who prefer to enjoy drinks as if they were prohibited, Voyeur, a spanking-new club in the Gaslamp, is prepared to take you back to a time when excess was in. Lest you think I'm being a smart-ass, I really do like the place. There's something exhilarating about putting on your tightest pair of jeans and seeing just how many ropes you can talk your way beyond (I made it all the way upstairs, baby). A bi-level, DJ-driven dance club, Voyeur takes its name from a series of strategically placed lipstick cams that feed live images to screens behind the bar. And from the moment I saw my own image staring back at me with the flinty eyes of a startled possum, I was hooked.
I have to admit that I found the design, which I have heard described as both vintage-punk and Goonie-chic, a little forced at first. Heavy black walls are lined with skulls, which, having been so widely appropriated in popular culture, have come to symbolize less badass than douchebag. But after four vodka-Red Bulls (yes, you heard me—that's what I drink when I'm up in da club, bitch), I started to see things a little differently. I started thinking about vanitas paintings, a form of still-life in which the skull was meant to serve as a reminder of all that is fleeting and shallow. And that's what nightlife is, after all—a brief foray into the vacuous world of appearances.
As I stood looking up at the skulls, swaying gently from side to side, the guy next to me directed my attention to a group of newly minted legal drinkers, each self-consciously clutching a can of PBR.
“You see that?” he asked. “The reason they sell those here is because electronica is getting totally sold out—just like indie punk. These guys who own the place see that and they're acknowledging it, making fun of it. It's genius.”It seems I wasn't the only one who had drunk myself analytical. But that's the thing about Voyeur: You see what you want to see.Voyeur is located at 755 Fifth Ave., Downtown. www.voyeursd.com.