“A San Diego for V.I.P.’s.”
– By Dan Levin
In this city, where until recently a dress code meant “no shirt, no shoes, no service,” the fixation with velvet ropes has become as familiar as surfing. Now, tanned peroxide blondes can pay $350 for a bottle of Grey Goose here rather than drive to Los Angeles or Las Vegas to feel exclusive.
They can thank Stingaree, a three story club and restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter here. One of the first hot spots in town to charge a $20 cover, Stingaree is still raking it in a year after opening to lines down the block. Witness a recent Friday night: It was jammed outside the door, and inside there were so many security men in black suits and earpieces, one might have thought the Bush twin were inside. (They weren’t.)
Unlike the mega-clubs of New York or Los Angeles, a happy energy outshone the too-cool factor. Two women in jeans that couldn’t have been more than a size 4 combined were grinding seductively on the dance floor. Nearby, a guy watched, his fedora fluttering over his heart.
A security guard looked bored with a man trying to negotiate his way into the bottle-service booths. His girlfriend stood alongside, whining, “If this doesn’t work I’m going home.”
Apparently, it’s all about the right people, even in San Diego. “I work in the alcohol industry, so I have connections,” said Carol Kelley, from a booth, where she celebrated her 25th birthday.
Across the catwalk upstairs, there was a fierce competition over who was wearing the shortest skirt. A man was spinning a giggling woman over his shoulder, her dangling peep-toe heels dangerously close to hitting a waitress.
It was quiet and cool on the roof. Couples snuggled around a fire pit; two blondes smoked while reclining on a psychiatrist’s couch.
Inside a cabana, a clique of brunettes huddled, sipping cocktails. “This place reminds me of that club on Melrose, the one with the white couches,” said one woman, using Los Angeles as a point of reference.
“That’s not Melrose, that’s Sunset,” her friend retorted. “Skybar.”
The bright lights of last call revealed dark roots and last-minute possibilities. A woman in a Mrs. Federline tank stared intently at a man in a leather jacket.
“You look familiar,” she said, slinking closer. “Did you go to San Diego State?”