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Monday, October 6, 2008

Club26 Mix - 3024 Mission Street

Fixing my laptop in order to write my blog this week may have been the hardest thing I’ve had to do on Mission on Mission, even harder than Roccapulco. I never thought that that repairing a computer would involve a power drill and when I say power drill I’m referring to my Dewalt High Torque Power Drill that can bore through a cement block like a hot skewer through butter. My Apple Powerbook didn’t stand a chance; but then again, I didn’t stand a chance of fixing it if I didn’t somehow find a way to pull out the screw that I inadvertently stripped while trying to open the casing. So out came the Dewalt and in went the drill bit, right into the head of the screw—a screw so tiny I needed my glasses just to keep it in view. Luckily, the drill is mightier than the screw and I shredded the bastard into bits—amazingly without damage to the computer or myself.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad is in no danger of me taking on computer repair as a hobby. With each lost microscopic screw and misplaced keyboard letter, my frustration grew—my singular focus and motivation was putting the computer back together so I could write this week’s entry. Alas, after a full day working on the computer (9 hours to be exact) interspersed with some Sunday football (watching the 49ers lose to the Patriots), the repairs rounded completion and I was able to find solace in some afternoon beers and reflect on Friday night’s adventure at Club 26 Mix.

Friday night marked another major milestone on my journey—I was finally crossing Cesar Chavez. After 18 Fridays, I am exactly one mile into my Mission and incredibly, I have already visited 17 bars. Passing the large construction site on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Mission Street, I made my way to the large orange arrow with martini glass that was pointing to my next destination, Club 26 Mix. Encased in a plethora of unlit neon lights, the bar’s sign seemed to promise both excitement and disappointment—kind of like a strip club with the lights on. Dressed in black and perched on a stool just outside the bar, the bouncer sat and watched as pedestrians cruised by.

After a brief but thorough pat down I was granted entry through the heavy, leather drapes (yes, heavy…leather…drapes) separating the bar and its patrons from the public outside. I soon realized that the drapes were as much about keeping daylight out as they were about keeping the people and noise in.

Once an upscale dance club/lounge, Club 26 Mix has faded into a typical though gigantic dive bar. A remnant of its more festive days, a long dance floor and stage were positioned in the center of the space with booth seating lining the edge. Somewhat out of place, two pool tables were crammed into the rear of the room.

Settling into my seat at the end of the bar a feeling of déjà vu overtook me as I noticed all the girls walking around the room delivering drinks and chatting with the patrons. Was this Coronitas Bar?

Music blared in the background and I ordered my standard fare, a Pacifico, from one of the two female bartenders. Squeezed into an extremely short skirt, the poor woman had to tug at the bottom of her skirt with every step to prevent the thing from climbing up her back and over her butt. Meanwhile, the second bartender flaunted her enormous breasts which struggled to stay contained in her backless top. The whole get-up was a precarious network of fabric and physics, which wasn’t as flattering as one would have hoped.

The rest of the harem did their best to entice the male clientele by wearing the tightest pants, shortest skirts and tops so snug you could see the contour of their every curve, lump and bump. Some were cute, some were homely but all of them were working hard taking orders, delivering drinks and keeping the gentlemen of the bar the company they desired. It seemed like for every two guys there was one server taking care of them—not letting an empty glass or bottle hit the table before another had been ordered and delivered.

As these women swirled around the bar, there was a steady influx of men coming and going. Some played pool while other just stopped in for a quick drink. Just as Coronitas had a bouncer at the door and another one inside, 26 Mix added a third bouncer who meandered about keeping a watchful eye on the scene. A Goliath amongst the many Davids inside, I wouldn’t want to mess with him during a drunken evening.

With almost everyone speaking Spanish I managed to hold some light conversation with Sandra the barkeep in the tiny skirt. By light conversation I mean a lot of short sentences and awkward pauses—all in Spanish. She kept me company for awhile before getting what looked like a look or signal from someone behind a partition telling her to move along. I have no idea what was said or what happened, all I know is that she suspiciously walked to the other end of the bar and stayed there for the rest of my visit. I can only venture to guess that by sitting at the bar I wasn’t allowed the same attention as someone who had commandeered a table.

26 Mix could be Coronitas’ doppelganger, once a lounge with popular DJs spinning as hipsters danced and the bar now hosts Spanish music, pool tables and urban vaqueros. Despite their painfully high heels and the treacherously uneven floor, the bar’s hardworking staff smiled all night as they traveled to and from the bar—chatting with their patrons, taking orders and delivering drinks—and, more than anything, lifting spirits.

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