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A night aboard the Clusterwink

“Please place your phone on submarine mode”

Captain Vic engages the audience.
Captain Vic engages the audience.

As far as I am concerned, being inside of a submarine for any amount of time would be a form of mental torture. Underwater + enclosure = nightmare. Last Wednesday’s boarding of the Acey Deucey Club’s fantastical USS Clusterwink will hopefully be the closest I ever get — happily, more like a curious dream than a nightmare.

This submarine is, shall we say, “docked” off Island Avenue inside The Horton Grand Hotel, and provides a rum-heavy civilian excursion into the deep sea — and also into a whimsical, tropical past. When I visit, I make my way in amidst fellow patrons’ white sailor caps, retro dresses, and aloha shirts, while the Tiki decor accents and watery “views” beyond the submarine windows help to set the scene. Skipper Finn Crawford escorts me to my seat and assures me that another engineer (waiter) will be by in “two shakes of a cocktail shaker” with my first drink, the first of four to which I am entitled with my VIP ticket.

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“Please place your phone on submarine mode”, Captain Victoria “Vic” Gray requests from the front stage. But, she adds, feel free to take photographs. “We encourage it. Our submarine is stunning, and so am I.” The first drink, a Sea Mule, arrives, and we raise our glasses “to moxie and frivolity” at Captain Vic’s direction.

There are some plantain chips in front of me and a small menu offering pork sliders, “Sea-viche,” and firecracker meatballs. A tableside console offers some submarine-y dials, knobs, and switches I can fiddle with while I wait for the festivities to begin. I sit and people watch a bit: some people here are apparent retro-lifestyle enthusiastists, some just curious date-goers. Some know and like the old-timey music, some want to see their friends who are in the show, some will go home and sleep soon, and some are here as a prelude to the rest of a big night out. It’s a Wednesday, so it’s understandable that it’s not a full house, but it detracts a little from the atmosphere; we’re at 50% capacity or so, and a smaller crowd makes any event feel somewhat less vibrant.

The Acey-Deucey band in action.

Are we sailing at some time around World War II? The Cold War? It’s not clear. But in any case, it is a past in which my captain is also a statuesque blonde lady, who is also a drunk lounge singer, and who also happens to have a wife named Lillian that she’s left back home. “I am in fact a married woman,” Vic teases.

Captain Vic is the best part of the evening — she talks about rum and pirates, makes silly jokes, and sings an eclectic array of old jazz songs accompanied by a small band. She also interacts with the Skipper, and the two work the crowd through some theatrical submarine problem-solving. Things get fun when she veers into some pointed engagement with a birthday boy in the audience. “Mike, how old are you today?” She strains to hear his reply. “24? No, 34? Sorry.” She gets offended by Mike’s looking away, pesters him with more questions, and is eventually dismayed by the interaction: “I’m done with you,” she says. Then a number of songs later, she adds, “Mike — what is the point of you being here?” I like the frisson.

The event is squeezed into 90 minutes, including 10 minutes of lingering time after the presentation is done. I am given a commemorative pint glass in a box, and make my way out through the Horton Grand.

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Captain Vic engages the audience.
Captain Vic engages the audience.

As far as I am concerned, being inside of a submarine for any amount of time would be a form of mental torture. Underwater + enclosure = nightmare. Last Wednesday’s boarding of the Acey Deucey Club’s fantastical USS Clusterwink will hopefully be the closest I ever get — happily, more like a curious dream than a nightmare.

This submarine is, shall we say, “docked” off Island Avenue inside The Horton Grand Hotel, and provides a rum-heavy civilian excursion into the deep sea — and also into a whimsical, tropical past. When I visit, I make my way in amidst fellow patrons’ white sailor caps, retro dresses, and aloha shirts, while the Tiki decor accents and watery “views” beyond the submarine windows help to set the scene. Skipper Finn Crawford escorts me to my seat and assures me that another engineer (waiter) will be by in “two shakes of a cocktail shaker” with my first drink, the first of four to which I am entitled with my VIP ticket.

Sponsored
Sponsored

“Please place your phone on submarine mode”, Captain Victoria “Vic” Gray requests from the front stage. But, she adds, feel free to take photographs. “We encourage it. Our submarine is stunning, and so am I.” The first drink, a Sea Mule, arrives, and we raise our glasses “to moxie and frivolity” at Captain Vic’s direction.

There are some plantain chips in front of me and a small menu offering pork sliders, “Sea-viche,” and firecracker meatballs. A tableside console offers some submarine-y dials, knobs, and switches I can fiddle with while I wait for the festivities to begin. I sit and people watch a bit: some people here are apparent retro-lifestyle enthusiastists, some just curious date-goers. Some know and like the old-timey music, some want to see their friends who are in the show, some will go home and sleep soon, and some are here as a prelude to the rest of a big night out. It’s a Wednesday, so it’s understandable that it’s not a full house, but it detracts a little from the atmosphere; we’re at 50% capacity or so, and a smaller crowd makes any event feel somewhat less vibrant.

The Acey-Deucey band in action.

Are we sailing at some time around World War II? The Cold War? It’s not clear. But in any case, it is a past in which my captain is also a statuesque blonde lady, who is also a drunk lounge singer, and who also happens to have a wife named Lillian that she’s left back home. “I am in fact a married woman,” Vic teases.

Captain Vic is the best part of the evening — she talks about rum and pirates, makes silly jokes, and sings an eclectic array of old jazz songs accompanied by a small band. She also interacts with the Skipper, and the two work the crowd through some theatrical submarine problem-solving. Things get fun when she veers into some pointed engagement with a birthday boy in the audience. “Mike, how old are you today?” She strains to hear his reply. “24? No, 34? Sorry.” She gets offended by Mike’s looking away, pesters him with more questions, and is eventually dismayed by the interaction: “I’m done with you,” she says. Then a number of songs later, she adds, “Mike — what is the point of you being here?” I like the frisson.

The event is squeezed into 90 minutes, including 10 minutes of lingering time after the presentation is done. I am given a commemorative pint glass in a box, and make my way out through the Horton Grand.

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