When Darkness Falls: Saba Cafe by Kim Niblett

416 Main Street
Houston, Tx 77002

January 2004–Being from a small town, like Levelland, you really don’t get to experience many new places to hang out at. After a while you begin to know every crack in the sidewalk and every item on the menu at the Country Cookin’ burger joint. I’ve always seen the same old faces and the same old things. I was ready to start a new life and become familiar with new things. I’m just a small town country girl ready to break loose and breathe new air, smile at new faces, and live life a little on the wild side.
Walking downtown in the city of Houston with the tall buildings, heavy traffic, and crazy nightlife was what I what I was finally able to witness for the first time. Every club seemed to much the same to me though. You know the usual waiting in the long lines, then the bouncer checks you I.D. as you impatiently wait to get inside, and when you finally get in it’s really not at all what you had expected it to be. I was looking for something new and a little more sophisticated than all of these other clubs. I needed to be in a place where I could get away and satisfy myself in a great new experience.

Just around the corner, where a musician stood playing his guitar, a fluorescent lit building caught my eye and immediately drew me inside. The sign just above my head read “Saba.” There was no waiting in line and no one standing at the door to stare you down before you entered. The blue iridescent lights surrounding the building and the black and white tile gave it a contemporary style. The people bob their heads to the hip hop music that is playing in the background while the others lacking any rhythm moving in reverse to the beat of the music stand the side.

Everybody chilled in their humble groups all around the building and would occasionally nod their head to everyone else as they would make their way to the other side. The first dater’s and dating couples sat and mingled at the round tables that were lined up against the wall across from the bar. The more intimate couples lounged in the booths located in the back side of the room. The vicinity was so dark that nothing but a simple shadow could be seen.

The bar, of course, is the main attraction at Saba’s. The wooden countertop forms half a circle surrounding the alcoholic beverages and enclosing the bartenders inside leaving them only enough room to take two steps up and two steps back. The big tippers sat on the tall stools circling around the bar and constantly flirted with the bartenders. To add more to the character of the club, an aquarium filled with exotic fish was propped up inside the wall behind the bar. It was limited to a diverse assortment of tropical sea creatures such as blowfish, a few sting rays, and even a baby shark that reminded me of the Aquarium restaurant down the street because of their choice of fish it had.

What keeps me coming to Sabas are their drinks. Some are a little expensive but fairly reasonable in price and definitely worth it by the time you leave. On a frequent occasion, I selfishly indulge in a famous Saba Island Tea which contains two ounces of Vodka, Gin, Rum, Blue Curacao, and a splash of sweet and sour. Just like the building, their specialty drink is coincidentally the same glowing blue color.

I love to sit in the back of the room relaxing, soaking up the ambiance and drink my Saba Island Tea with exactly four ice cubes carefully placed in it. Your whole body absorbs that great feeling of the atmosphere and gives you an emotion you just can’t contain. I can just sit there in total contentment and watch the people reach with one another. The dress code was easily noticeable because the men were all wearing black or gray slacks with a side pocket midway on the left pant leg, with a snug dark colored dress shirt that was tucked in, and the typical black Kenneth Cole dress shoes. The women seemed to all be wearing black stretch pants and skirts with some form fitting dark and very revealing top with black heels that were apparently hard to walk in after a few drinks.

When I got down to my last slurp at the bottom of my glass, I didn’t feel as if I had drunk any alcohol instead I felt even more relaxed and laid back. But the pressure on my bladder began to intensify the longer I sat down and waited. So, I eventually had to make my way to the ladies room and as I stood up I felt as if I was at the South Plains Fair and I had just rode the tilt-a-wheel shortly after eating.

It was close to 3 a.m. and Saba was reaching its closing time. As I walked near the exit, I could see everything going on outside. The Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators rolling on twenty inch rims passed by slowly with their music playing loud enough you didn’t need to play music from inside. The same homeless people were still standing on the side of the streets asking for some kind of help. The hustlers harassed everyone as they tried to cross the street to at least take a look at what they were trying to sale.

I was hesitant to walk out and leave my perfect place. The windows gave me a sense of security and protection from the rest of the world. I’ve always been used to a small town and I felt as if I had just walked into another world like “The Matrix.” I took the chance and accepted the red pill. But my phone rang and unfortunately it’s all over now and I must return to the real world. No need to worry though, I will be back tomorrow to release myself and runaway from the madness once again.



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