Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in the following article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Editorial Board of The Student Life. The piece, which appeared as a review in the Life & Style section of the paper, provides factual information on the establishment through the filter of our reviewer, but is not intended to be the exhaustive, unbiased, or final perspective on Tropical Lei. The Student Life encourages comments from readers to widen the discourse on the content of the article. Please refrain from personal attacks and/or crude language. Comments including personal attacks will be removed.
As I walk up to the Tropical Lei, the click-clack of my heels ticking against the cracked and dirty pavement, a few thoughts flash through my mind. Such as:
I am going to the Tropical Lei.
I am going to the Tropical Lei on a weekday.
It is midnight and I’m in a suit.
Am I a girl, too?
I’d been working late into the night with the distinguished members of the CMC Congress class, and we’d already been pushing past midnight. As we waited impatiently for one hour, then two, for negotiations to finish, I idly wondered what sort of thing I could do afterwards.
Perhaps go to the Tropical Lei? Yes. Why, that’s the best idea I’ve ever come up with.
My escort, a football player who’s been up since 6:30 a.m., is only willing to accompany me because I am on a deadline and “there’s no way a girl should go there alone at night.” As we drive the five minutes from the Rose Institute to the Tropical Lei, I ask him whether he’ll come in with me. For journalism.
“Why would I want to pay $20 to see a naked chick?” he asks rhetorically. “I could just put a little extra effort and see a naked girl for free.”
If I were to do a formal review of the Tropical Lei, my advice is as follows: this football player is a wise man, with far better financial advice than a Pitzer econ major. I stumble out of the car, note the sign (“Feeling down? Let us help”) and after a lot of brazen lying about why I’m alone (“Why, yes, sir, I really am part of advance staff for the RNC and our president would like to visit your club!”), I walk into what is not a club, but a new world—a greenish-lit cupboard with fringed silver curtains opening into the Narnia of sexual perversion.
The first thing I see past the curtain is a pale naked woman splayed on the mirrored floor, butt to the audience. As she makes out with her own reflection in the floor, heavily-remixed techno thumps over the green lighting. I try to figure out the song. Oh. It’s “Come Together” by The Beatles. I get it. It’s a pun. For orgasms.
I want to make like a banana and split but am compelled to watch more, partly because I can’t leave, as there is a large man shaped like a douchebag tracking my every move. But as a journalist who studies the human condition, my eyes are drawn to the people watching this mechanical dancer. Surprisingly, sitting amid the restaurant-style booths filled with sketchy old creepers hitting on faded whores is a hollow-eyed woman in a g-string and halter bikini, staring at the stripper making out with herself.
Once upon a time, this woman—let’s call her Kandee—must have been that woman on the front of the stage, stripping “to pay for college” or “to be sexually liberated,” gyrating as men stuffed bills into the string of her G. And then the passage of time crept slowly over her as Kandee once crept upon the laps of truckers. She glows with envy at the stripper. Or maybe it’s the drugs.
I think there’s a special trick in strip clubs to make the men fade into the background while the women just look SO! FREAKING! HOT? Hot’s pushing it. They’re more like…eye-catching, and not in a good way. The blonde Snooki-like waitress with my drinks has perfectly circular breasts, as if they were welded onto her chest.
Another bikini-clad woman purrs at me with all the grace and seductiveness of a malfunctioning robot, roses and flowers tattooed all over her body. She had likely lost her own flower, years ago. Did these roses serve as an attempt to lure men to her, implying that she was in full bloom, soft and luscious? Freshness and innocence are marred by an ugly Amy Winehouse face.
How can I possibly review such a sad, empty place? Imagine if a dementor wandered through TNC or a kitten was blinded in front of you. Imagine if CMC Dean Jeff Huang came up to you and said that everything you ever believed in was a lie. Imagine if you were a stripper who could only make out with her own reflection, looking herself in the eye as she danced, desperately wondering if she could ever realize her dream of being a great chemist.