So I would be forced to attend an underage foam party Wednesday night. The first challenge was figuring out what to wear. I wanted to strike a fine balance between "I'm a desperate 19 year old" and "I will press charges." I dug through my closet for my finest skort, slipped on an American Apparel shirt and poured myself a screwdriver. The old adage that drinking can make anything fun was abut to be put seriously to the test.
I think I should do all the 17 going on 18-year-olds of Portland (and all future aging alt weekly writers) a favor and spell out exactly how to survive an underage foam party.
1. BRING MORE MONEY THAN YOU THINK WOULD BE REASONABLE. Club FX is down on SW Naito, facing the waterfront. Because it is, I believe, the only non-gay underage dance club in the Portland that has not been marred by a terrible shooting in the past year, it gets to charge pretty much whatever cover it wants. On Wet Wednesdays, the cover is $15. My Very Very Nice Roommate (VVNR) offered to be my wingman for the evening, so I paid $30, plus forking over my eternal gratitude.
2. WEAR CLOTHES YOU DON'T MIND HAVING CONTAMINATED WITH THE STENCH OF FAKE FOG AND AXE BODY SPRAY. Before we entered the club, four burly bouncers handed VVNR and I each clipboards with a waiver attached, promising that we would not sue Club FX for any damages to our persons or clothing. That means that before hitting the dance floor, you're already out $15 and a significant portion of your legal rights.
3. ARRIVE VERY LATE. The party was supposed to start at either 8 PM or 10 PM depending on which out-dated Club FX web site you subscribe to, but when we arrived at Club FX at 10:30, the club was occupied only by a pair of pouty looking teenage girls sharing a Sprite near a white pleather couch. We sought refuge at the bar. "Don't worry, it gets crowded later," advised the friendly bartender, her glow-in-the-dark tongue stud flashing as she served us a Coke on the rocks. Around 11:30, large globs of kids did start rolling through the door, hitting each other flirtatiously and heading in packs to the bathroom.
4. GUYS, YOU MUST WEAR ONLY ATHLETIC APPAREL. Everything else is gay these days.
5. LADIES, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BLACKLIGHT! Club FX is designed exactly how a 16-year-old would design a bar if their entire conception of "bar" was based on laser tag and selected scenes from the movie Clueless. The decor is heavy on steel and white vinyl, the DJ booth belches fake fog constantly, chain link fences hang from the ceiling and everything, everywhere is blacklit. We saw a girl wearing one of those American Apparel mesh body suits over a white bra. She was very popular.
6. GET YOURSELF INSIDE A CAGE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. The most distinctive aspect of Club FX is the three neon human-size cages perched over the dance floor. If you don't insert yourself into a cage early in the night, they will be claimed by girls whose aggression runs as high as their heels and you will be consigned to dancing on the regular dance floor, which feels vast and empty before midnight. We huddled in pleather chairs in the corner, where at least a dozen other foam partygoers sat, motionless and silent while the music and fake fog rolled over the empty dance floor and the girls in cages gyrated. I'm usually the first one to dance at a party or show but surrounded by the hyper-aware teenagers, I could not will myself into the middle of the room. I just. couldn't. do. it. An intense weight of awkwardness pinned me to my chair. But then VVNR and I finished our sodas and the scale of boredom vs. awkwardness tipped in the favor of boredom, forcing us to reluctantly stride to middle of the fog and blacklight drenched dance floor, where we shook it hard for upwards of 20 minutes completely by ourselves. The time passed like a lead river, and the whole time I had that old adage running through my head: Dance like nobody's watching... except several rows of horny 19 year-old boys and a surly bouncer. Oh, I longed to be inside a cage.
7. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH STRANGERS. Any form of movement in the direction of a stranger will be viewed as flirtation and will only escalate awkwardness. Finally, after two hours of hiding in the corner and dancing alone, a critical mass of underage kids formed in Club FX and everyone hit the dance floor all at once to get their $15 worth. Hard circles of friends formed, the entire mass bumping and grinding in familiar knots.
8. KNOW WHEN TO RUN. Proclaiming this "stupid," VVNR eventually broke the ice with a foreign dance circle, shaking hands with two guys whose shouted names neither of us could decipher. Upon shaking my hand, guy #1 took the opportunity to grab my arm and swing it over the shoulders, performing the leg grind on my skort in a way that can only be described with one phrase: Sex Poodle. I toughed it out for half a song, fanning flames of embarrassment that are sparked by sloppy, intimate dancing with a horny stranger. I turned to VVNR and hissed, "If we stay here, I will die." At that point, the guy turned, too, and because he was roughly four inches shorter than me, his sideways baseball cap hit me across the eye. I took the opportunity to break out of the forced embrace and literally run away.
9. DO NOT EXPECT FOAM AT THE FOAM PARTY. Finally, I have to report that after over two hours at the foam party, there was NO FOAM to be seen. Instead, all surfaces were covered in a thick veneer of fake fog, cologne and shame.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!