Terry and I went to the grand opening of a new club downtown called Heat (55 West Church Street) which offers signature cocktails, tapas and live entertainment. The press preview began at 6pm and the general public was invited starting at 10pm. I had come directly from the Scottish Highland games so I was in jeans and a sweatshirt. It became painfully obvious that I was under dressed as soon as I saw some women regally stepping out of a Mercedes with elegant sequined gowns. Terry was dresses better than me but even she felt under dressed. The bouncer at the velvet rope could not find my name on the list but he could not deny that I had an invitation inside the gold envelope sealed elegantly with wax.
When we stepped inside we were greeted by a phalanx of leggy young women all in tight black skirts who welcomed us and offered free champagne. The wall behind them was brightly illuminated red and I considered sketching but I felt I should look around first. I turned down the offer of champagne but Terry decided to indulge. The interior was lit Vegas style and behind the bar a jazz group assembled to perform. I was reminded of the Cantina scene in the original Star Wars. This place was elegant rather than ominous. Within a minute of starting my first sketch a woman pushed up beside me to see what I was doing. I explained that there wasn't much to see yet at this point. Soon the bar was packed and I was being shoved by groups of people who were posing for photos. When I was getting shoved from behind by people reaching for drinks, I gave up on the sketch and found a quieter spot away from the bar. Terry was at a table so I joined her there. We were told the table was reserved so I never sat down. I leaned against a wall and tried valiantly to save my first sketch. The woman who spoke to me at the bar checked back a second time to see my progress. I was bristling, annoyed at the interruptions but I graciously showed her what I was up to.
Terry and I moved outside where space heaters kept patrons comfortable as they lounged on wicker chairs. Mark Baratelli and Terry struck up a conversation as I worked on my second sketch. Every time Terry went to the bar, someone would approach me and ask to see the sketch I was working on. One woman said we had met before and she asked if I remembered a Valentines party. I didn't remember sketching any Valentines party and just as I said this Terry walked up. The woman disappeared. Terry seemed to think I was being hit on. That seemed impossible since I was grubby with a half grown beard and jeans on. Every other man at this place was quite honestly, handsome compared to me. They had tailored Italian suits on and perfectly gelled hair. With my hiking boots and jeans I must have looked very out of place.
Terry was having a grand time people watching. Four women sat at the table next to us deep in conversation. The redhead had an intense gaze which cut through the loud ambient noise of the club. Terry seemed convinced that these woman in the backs of their minds were wondering why men were not hitting on them. To me they just seemed to be enjoying each others company. The woman who had asked me about Valentines day stumbled into the man she was talking to. The high heels might have caught her off guard. The crowd was quite diverse with twenty somethings standing elbow to elbow with women who were noticeably older than me. I loved sketching here where I could observe people up close in a crowded setting where I remained mostly unnoticed. I was glad that Terry was having as much fun as me soaking in the setting. By 10pm there was a long line of people waiting to get past the velvet rope.