I tried to fit three events into one day. It almost worked.
The first thing I went to was a motorcycle ride for the troops. I heard about it from DJs on Rock 105.3. It was sponsored by Biggs Harley-Davidson in San Marcos, which is in my backyard. There was no excuse to miss it.
I showed up for the after-party. The ride had taken place that morning. Pro wrestler Bill Goldberg was there, and I overheard a few kids talking about trying to get his autograph.
There were games set up for kids. I saw something that looked like horseshoes, but they were tossing motorcycle parts.
There were games for adults, such as the bikini contest. I officially turned into my mom as I watched the ladies walk around the venue in bikinis — I was thinking that they were probably going to get sunburned. It was hot.
There was a long line for free steak sandwiches.
I’d never seen more motorcycles in one place — there were hundreds of them.
When I approached two guys in leather vests on Harleys, I thought they’d be biker snobs, but these guys were nice. One said, “It’s not about who has what bike. This was about the troops and getting everyone together — family, friends — for a nice ride on a nice day.”
I grabbed an energy drink and stood under the shade of a canopy. I saw a woman walk by with several raffle tickets. She told her husband that she had a dream the night before that she won a contest. He rolled his eyes.
I saw a musician tuning his guitar onstage but didn’t stay long enough to hear him play. Instead, I headed to the gym for a few hours of basketball because later that evening, I had two events to try and to catch.
One was in my old stomping grounds — Mira Mesa. The guys on the phone told me that there’d be a few bands at a surprise birthday party. I figured the cops would show up with bands playing at a house in the Westonhill development. The homes there are close together.
When I showed up around 10 p.m., there didn’t seem to be a party, but I heard voices in a closed garage. It sounded like a couple of guys and a girl, and they were in a heated argument. I walked up to the door, peered into a window, and didn’t see a party going on.
So, I took the big drive to Bonita for the last event of the evening.
A woman named Jacqueline works for the law offices of Lewis Muller. They were sponsoring a dance contest at Club Caribe.
When I got there, the place was packed. A bouncer at the door had a buzz cut and black leather gloves and looked as if he’d squash anyone who got out of line.
Jac got me in without the $10 cover, and I asked her about the dance, called bachata. She tried to explain it, but with the loud music, I couldn’t hear her. I just nodded.
They had a free buffet, and although there were several people eating, the two dance floors were packed. One room was playing contemporary hip-hop, while the other, where bachata would be taking place, had lyrics that were all in Spanish. The songs sounded good, though.
There was a DJ named Mario Alberto from 107.3 FM. Since he spoke Spanish, I didn’t have a clue what he was saying. One of the club managers said, “He’s funny. They call him the Spanish Howard Stern.”
I was seated in a VIP area with Jac, her sister, and a few of their friends. They immediately set me up with shots of tequila. As long as some annoying person with a whistle didn’t come by and shake my head with a towel afterward, I’d be fine.
It was high-end tequila and went down smoothly. Well, as smoothly as tequila can go down.
I was given a few whiskey sours and hoped the drinks would help get me on the dance floor. Jac tried to get me out there a few times. When she saw I wouldn’t budge, she showed me a few moves and said, “It’s simple. You just put your hands on my hips,” and then she started moving like Shakira. I felt like an old white guy — I couldn’t believe my hands were on her hips and hadn’t a clue that a hardwood floor could be used for anything other than basketball.
I talked to José, one of the owners of Club Caribe. I mentioned the club being somewhat close to a residential area. He said that in years past they had had problems with noise. From cars in the parking lot peeling out or playing their stereos too loud. He said, “Since we’ve gotten security out there, we haven’t had the sheriffs come out.”
Since Jac works for a defense attorney, I asked her for a good story. She laughed and said, “We had a client that had 40 pounds of weed. He had no priors. And my boss got him a deal that only involved probation.” I said, “I would think with that amount they’d try to nail you for selling it.” She replied, “Well, just having it in your vehicle...they can get you for that. That’s why my boss is good.”
When I asked for other stories, she didn’t want to share. She did say, “You can mention that my boss gives the $100 prize each week for the best dancers.”
I noticed that as songs played, the DJ was talking over them, saying things like, “Come on! Move! Shake it!” His words of encouragement seemed to add to the songs.
Once, though, I leaned in to ask him something, not realizing he was in the process of talking into the mic. I just thought his talking was part of the song.
I heard all kinds of instruments in the mix — steel drums, whistles, accordions, keyboards.
I asked a guy named George, a manager at the club, to tell me about the dances. “Oh, we’ve been doing them here for five or six years. Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic. I’m not sure how long it’s been around.”
When Jac went down to hand out the prize, a circle formed around her. Couples took their turns, each with less than a minute. It seemed to be a mix between a tango and dirty dancing. I asked Jac if it would be hard to pick a winner. She told me that they go by applause, which was easy to tell for the couple that won.
The music was turned back up. I could feel the throbbing bass in my stomach and at the tip of my nose.
I joked with Jac as I was leaving, “It’s smart of your boss to sponsor this thing. With people drinking...there’s the possibility of getting some DUI clients out of this.”
She said, “With all the food people are eating, most of the people here aren’t driving out drunk. That happens more at clubs when people are drinking all night and they haven’t eaten in eight hours.”