Redeye - Not just another tweak-end January 13 2005

Sprawled on the couch last Friday, I was exhausted but restless. Tired of chewing the familiar scenery, I headed back for a rematch with Underground Atlanta, because I assume the shifty, judging eyes of the city are on it. But I had to get over this hump. And that led to a bump. Crack is wack, but coffee wouldn't do it, so I took a plunge, which felt more like a lunge, and around 1:45 a.m., I barreled out of the house to plow through Underground.

Oh shit, only one song on the car stereo and I'm here. My eyes have been shutter-buggin'. Three dollars later, I'm in my "secure parking" space, but feeling far from secure. I'm shaky, paranoid, rambling and ambling to myself like Neil Young in the '70s.

Five more dollars and I'm in Underground. Since I'm in such a "rock" mood, I'm headed straight to the Alley Cat Club.

Neil Young's face greets me inside the door. Other old friends — Kiss, Elvis Costello, etc. — line the walls on posters and framed album covers. A DJ plays Ministry, Metallica and the Misfits. But the pink neon and a handful of deep booths make me think Hard Rock Cafe more than rockin' out. Yes, Alley Cat serves food, and you get $5 off with the coupon attached to the Underground entrance wristband. There's pool, too. But I'm too busy ricocheting around tables like an eight ball to care about either.

I need a drink. An ex with a wandering eye once told me you'd be surprised how far buying a drink can get you with a girl. So I get one and so does the waitress, who beams a smile. We talk about how the Alley Cat girls — in their hot pants and fuzzy ears — do dance routines at 1 a.m. every night they're open. And how my waitress has been driving back and forth from New Orleans for some guy. That's not really what I want to hear, so call me Elton, 'cause I'm a rocket man out of here.

I celebrate my first legal sip of post-2:30 a.m. alcohol in a year as I stroll into a rainy night in Georgia. Underground is great for people with ADD — naturally or chemically induced. You want to change location? Get a to-go cup and walk out.

Wandering around, I find an entertaining juxtaposition: There's a hoedown going on in Koco's Latin Restaurant and Bar, and hip-hop in the Irish Bred Pub & Grill. Finally I make it to Latin Sol, which I'm declaring Underground's saving grace — for now. Featuring gauzy, circular seating areas, tropical sorbet-colored lighting, and a tremendous inlaid wooden dancefloor flanking an impressive stage, cavernous Latin Sol promises to offer a most posh and passionate venue for caliente couples. On another night when I'm in the right mind, I'll check it out again.

Back in my bed, between praying for sleep, I think back on the night. From 2-3:45 a.m., I could have put everyone in all the clubs into Vision, maybe even eleven50. And no, the crowds didn't get bigger as bars around the city closed. We'll see if it takes some catching on, but right now it looks like I wasn't the one who needed to be worrying about speed when it comes to Underground's club openings.

-- Tony Ware

i>Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.