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"Chris goes to Paradise"
- After years of waiting, on Saturday November 16, 2002, I got a first hand experience at
Paradise! It's difficult at best for Innkeepers to have time off, let alone on
weekends. But during the off-season, Brent gave me a weekend ticket to visit my
family in NJ. Unfortunately, this was also the weekend of a "Nor-easter"
or Northeaster storm. By Saturday afternoon, a driving rain and high seas were in
force and I wondered if my Saturday night in Asbury Park would be a wash. As luck
would have it, Mom let me out for the night!!
I arrived in to Paradise about
10:45pm. I was surprised (considering the weather) that the parking lot was already
full and folks were parked in the vacant lot across the street. I parked, withstood
the driving wind and rain and made my way quickly for the front door. I was politely
greeted and turned over my $7 cover charge, fair enough for a Saturday night (I think the
price goes up later in the evening).
Finally, I had arrived in
Paradise! For those of you who are not familiar with, or have never been to Asbury
Park New Jersey, check out my Asbury Park history at (which includes historic
images of the Empress Motel, the current home of Paradise): http://www.drakkar91.com/ap
I entered into the main bar, a
long bar with about 30 or so seats on each side. Two bartenders served this bar
which included a large center section decorated for the Fall! Along the right wall,
separated by a railing, is lots of comfy seating with cushions and small bar tables.
Two monitors near the entry played some "Reel-Gay" video's. There's
a cigarette machine, six bucks I think. On the opposite wall, a ledge for drinks and
some mirrors. I made my way along the right side of the bar, heading towards the
dance floor. The good sized space sits behind the main bar and is rectangular in
shape. To the right, another smaller bar with one bartender. Further along is
a dark area with some tables and seating. A good spot for die-hard dancers.
After we conclude our tour, we'll
talk about the dance floor, light show and music!
Curious to explore before I
selected a bar to get a drink (there were 4 bars available), I cruised to the other side.
A door, usually open due to traffic leads to a long hallway opposite the outdoor
pool. Of course, the pool area was closed, because it was November, and the wind and
rain! Look liked a great summer spot to hang. Just across from the main
bar and dance area, is yet another (smaller) bar and dance floor, as well as pool tables
and video games. I am guessing this is the area that is open on slower nights of the
week. There were about 5 or 6 video monitors about the room. Two bartenders
graced the bar here. Along one wall, plenty of tables and seating to view the dance
floor area. The music in this room was quieter, and more familiar to the average
listener. I picked this bar for my first drink, then meandered back into the hallway
- wondering where it would lead? It led to a back room, with yet another bar, more
pool tables and video games, a coat check and a cozy space with sofas and candles and
great lighting. This was the quietest room of them all, good for conversation, but
with familiar music (Cher) in the background. I checked my coat, chatted with
the coatchecker (more later) and returned to the main bar/dance floor area (disco for lack
of better terms).
For the most part, I stuck to the
sidelines taking in the light show and music. If the website was accurate, Shep
Pettibone himself was spinning, but with the weather, maybe he took the night off?
Unfortunately I don't know what he looks like, so your guess is as good as mine.
And now for the music and lights
show: AWESOME for lack of a more modern term. I counted at least 18 intelligent
lighting units (those monster electronic gadgets that swing light and patterns all over
the space). Yes, 18, at least. Maybe more, but 18 for sure. Most clubs
are happy to have 6 or 8 of them. Add to that, blinding strobes, and pounding music
from the ample sound system. Two large mirror balls, and a laser that was a light
show in and of itself.
So let's review - 18 intelli and
techno beams, blinding strobes, pounding music, a laser light show, fog (available in
massive quantities) and dancing boys and men! This was definitely a trip to Paradise
- I can only imagine the volume of people they must handle on a Saturday night when the
rain is not coming down in buckets with gale force winds!
Too much for you? You'll be
fine exploring one of the other bars, or in summer, that lovely outdoor pool area.
As for me, leave me at, and eventually on the dance floor.
And then there was the music -
having been trapped in Vermont for the last several months, I wouldn't have known most of
it had it not been for my old DJ friends in the Twin Cities. The playlist included
(in no particular order): A Deborah Cox Megamix, Madonna's Die Another Day, Various
Deborah Cox's tracks including Mr. Lonely, Pink's Like A Pill, and a killer mix of Taylor
Dayne's Naked Without You (I'm almost certain it was the same mix I played for the
DanceOne event in St. Paul in 2000)! The anthem of the night was no doubt, Gloria
Gaynor's I Never Knew which roused the crowd like nothing played before it. My only
disappointment of the evening was a remix of Don't You Want Me (Baby), mostly because it
was played twice in less then 2 hours (yeah, it would have been ok if it was Gloria)!
Regardless, I was on the floor for a solid hour!
I concluded my night early, about
1:15am as I had a long drive in bad weather (Mom's home is about 35 minutes away).
And I didn't want to be on the road when every other bar patron was heading home
The party goes until 2am, but it
is my understanding the music goes later (without drinks) on Saturday's.
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