trendysomething in somo
Remembering Numbers nightclub and growing up gritty
In an ephemeral city like Houston, nothing stays around for long, but the thing is, nothing is really worth staying around. Save the Angelika Film Center, my greatest upset over a business closing, until last week, was the conversion of the Taco Cabana at Montrose and Westheimer into a Smoothie King.
Even that event sparked stirrings of activism in my soul. Friends and I hatched plans of semi-violent flash mobs at the intersection, wielding DayGlo posters and trash cans full of queso in protest of the barrage of puréed pseudo-fruits and the loss of DTDF (drive-thru drunk food).
But like a queso stain on a couch cushion, my anger faded with time, and I learned to block out the glaringly bright beacon of health food on the formerly tranny-ridden corner.
Nevertheless, my heart heaves a heavy sigh at the news that the building that houses iconic club Numbers is up for lease. I could write a list of my precious memories at the venue, but that would come off as self-involved, nostalgic hipster masturbation ... which is one of my favorite activities, so here goes:
Many people are initiated into Numbers in high school with their under-18 '80s Night. I wasn't especially cool in high school, but I was still too cool to go to that.
Relatedly, in my "too cool for school" stage senior year, I highjacked my date to the "Senior Girls" formal to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — before the release of Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow and complicated kids were putting "Maps" on mixtapes to convey emotional depth. Nothing impresses a date like getting caught in a mosh pit during an opening band (remember The Locust?) and catching a piece of duct tape-cum-Karen O's nipple tassle that she threw into the crowd.
My freshman year of college, I befriended a Danse Parc DJ solely for free drinks, but when that relationship soured (something about ownership of a signed Death Cab EP), I was forced to find other access to hooch in my minor years. My creativity in alter-egos can go to extremes, and I soon found myself dressing in a suit and tie to appear older and arriving at Central Market around closing time to snag booze before an Of Montreal show.
When asked for my driver's license, I immediately affected a British accent, and told the cashier, "I'm sorry, I left my UK passport with my driver."
The emotional fervor of my pout and the cashier's extreme eye roll were in fierce competition, but I won and soon found myself with a friend in my car in a dark alley, blocks away from Numbers, chugging Hornsby's (I was 19, don't judge). It turned out to be a glorious night, punctuated by crawling onto the stage at the end of the performance to steal the keyboardist's lost bangle. Walking back to my car to find it towed was probably the low point.
As I blossomed into my 20s, Numbers was there to make sure I had live indie music at my fingertips. The world around me was changing, but I could rely on the club's filthy bathrooms as a rock. It wasn't unusual to get lip service in the boys room during the Westheimer Block Party or toss out one-liners during a local band's backstage after party.
Like the Interpol discography, my antics went south from there, and at a 2009 Broken Social Scene concert, I realized it might be time to reel it in when I was awoken from a nap on those oddly-moist carpeted risers by a high school-age girl asking if I knew where to buy ecstasy (I explained that I have a team of mental health professionals advising that I steer clear of MDMA).
Perhaps it's for the best (or at least in my best interest, which is really most important) that Numbers is in danger of closing (the real estate firm says its shopping for another tenant, but not kicking Numbers out without a new tenant and the nightclub still has events booked through December ).
I feel that the venue has served its purpose, and just as I've moved on to a healthier lifestyle (sometimes I think about doing yoga), Numbers may have a more savory future as a Pappas Chicken and Rice restaurant. But don't be surprised if you find me talking trash (and getting trashed) in dark corners at the revamped Fitzgeralds.
Listen to a 2010 remix of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps" by TGIK here:
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