Party Expert

Partygoers, including our own party expert, at 7 on its opening night last Friday. You had to have been living under a rock the entire holiday season to have not heard of Jermaine O’Neal’s new Broad Ripple ultra lounge, 7. I had long — and I mean long — lost friends calling to see if I could score them an invite to the super exclusive grand opening party on Dec. 30. The buzz even trickled all the way down to my grandmother, who called me an hour before I left for the event. “Matthew, that club is on the news. Are you going?” She knew I was. “Well, they say no one can attend unless they’re VIP. Are you VIP?” I just laughed as I did one last check in the mirror, grabbed my coat and ran out the door.

I showed up at 7 Lounge at 7 o’clock with my friends Kasey and Annie. We had downed a bottle of wine before leaving for the club and the slight inebriation gave me the added swagger and confidence needed to walk up to six bouncers and one petit door girl and say, “Matthew Pipes, I should be on the list.” Her name was Rae. She’s the VIP manager for the club and she has a hawk-like eye for who will make a party hot and who will bring the party down. After some small talk and a bit of namedropping, my girls and I were walking up the stairs and looking for coat check.

The first level of the lounge reminded me of something straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. White beds lined the far wall with cream curtains for privacy, tables coming up about a foot from the ground served as pedestals for dancing girls, and there were illuminated pillars like homing beacons for conversations and as a place to set your drink while smoking a cigarette. I was itching to see the other levels of the club, but they wouldn’t be ready for another hour, so we found some friends who had sprung for a bed and decided to indulge in their bottle service privileges.

As I sat on the bed smiling for pictures and throwing back shots, I took a second from the conversation to scope out the other VIPs in attendance. There was a group of models walking through the door wearing matching fur shawls, a local weatherman was at the bar entertaining a harem of laughing girls and some guys had formed a huddle around one of the dancing girls. It was at that moment that I realized this club was out to change Ripple as I knew it, and I wasn’t mad about it.

After a few more shots and a lot of double kisses and social climbing, the second floor of 7 was ready for clubbers. Holding Kasey and Annie on both arms, I made my way through the archway and onto the massive dance floor. I made a B-line for the stage that occupied the back wall. It had two white screens on either side of it like bookshelves with dancing silhouettes gyrating to the music. This was where all eyes were going to be all night, and this was definitely where I wanted to dance. It was as if the DJ had invaded my iPod, as he played everything from Beyonce and Snoop to old school Hall and Oates and Sheila E. Every time I tried to step down another great hit would come over the speakers and I found myself twirling a random girl or grinding against a wall. I wasn’t complaining.

I had to step off the dance floor or risk exhaustion, and someone I didn’t know bought me a shot because she liked my moves. My friends had just run into Biz Markee and raced up to tell me about their celebrity encounter.

Looming over the dance floor was the third level of the club, the VIP room, filled with Pacers, celebrities and hot girls. I looked up to see if I could make the rapper out in the small crowd. I couldn’t see anything. I thought about going up to the exclusive oasis, but decided not to press my luck; at least not on the first night. We decided to take a cool down on a bed on the second level and after a little R&R we grabbed our coats and left the club.

The VIP portion of the night was from 7 to 10. It was 10:30 and the “normies” were now entering the club. It was getting a little crowded. As we giggled down the front steps of 7, still intoxicated with the music and the vodka, we saw a miraculous sight: The line for the club went down the street and around the corner. There were hundreds of people waiting in the rain and we looked like snotty brats rubbing it in their faces, as if to say, “Oh, we could be in there, but we choose not to be.” Annie just laughed and pointed and Kasey said, “It’s good to be VIP,” and I can’t say I don’t agree with her.

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