(Between Hillcroft and Fondren)
January, 2004–Thick sweat runs down her face as she closes her eyes, tilts her head up and dances to Tito Rojas. The sweet sound of the bongos, guitar and bass collaborate to make a unified and calming sound. Echoing and bouncing against the red polished walls, people dance to the music as if it were their last. The cloudy, hot building is filled with a diverse crowd from different regions of the world. Both men and women alike celebrate life. Every Saturday night, family, friends and strangers gather at the hottest after hour’s Spanish club, Capriccio.
For the past five years, Capriccio is open to the public until five-thirty in the morning. It allows you to continue partying while the rest lock their doors. Conveniently located on Westheimer, this club is a Caribbean restaurant by day and party scene by night. It is known for hosting the Colombian/Venezuelan parties where traditional empanadas, chorizo, and pasteles are the nightly menu. The diversity and let-
loose motto attracts the most exotic women and eligible bachelors. There is someone new to meet night after night.
Passing through the smoked filled room, I notice a particular couple one night. For some reason they strike me a little awkward, they gave me an awkward vibe. Moving swiftly with grace, the tall and handsome man leads his partner in complicated steps and turns. The colorful fluorescent lights made of every color of the rainbow accentuate their precise steps. It is like watching a scene out of a movie, but then again Capriccios is also known for housing professional dancers.
“Don’t spin me too fast; I had a couple of drinks,” the lanky brunette manages to say in a couple of mumbles.
“Oh, don’t worry. You look great,” he responded as he tries to run his fingers through his overly gelled hair.
He is the type of guy that gives you that mysterious yet creepy feeling. She continued to dance in her fitted, white Channel dress that she probably got off the sales rack at Saks. I saw the dress this past Thursday at their private sale but I couldn’t squeeze into it if my life depended on it. Gazing around the room as if looking for her friends, her face is starting to wrinkle in worry. As she squints, she realizes her friends are becoming distant, almost invisible.
“Gosh, I don’t think I should have had that last shot of tequila,” she says.
I’m standing just a couple feet away and the smell of the heavy alcohol reeks from her body. She starts sway back and forth with a grin on her face. Friday and Saturday nights are well known for their drink specials. Capriccios specializes in serving traditional shots of vodka to bizarre fruit mixers. Her black mascara and smeared eye shadow emphasized her pale skin. With out the swerving lasers, I couldn’t even tell how horrible she looked from how dark the club is.
The young girl wobbles over the dark brown floor, occasionally stepping into grooves and cracks. Bumping into every other person and holding on to the smooth red walls, she makes her way to the bathroom.
“What’s going on?” says Rocio as she interrupts my short movie.
“Your typical under aged drinker that pushes her limit,” I reply
Just like every other club in Houston, there are minors that find a way to sneak in. I don’t know how they do it. It is usually not a problem since they try to maintain a low profile, fearing they will be kicked out. The age requirement is twenty-one to drink and eighteen to enter.
In charge of setting this requirement is the charming Rafael. He is one of five bouncers at Capriccios. His average height and alarming good looks set the example.
“Hey cutie, how are you?” Rocio says as she passes by the guy next to us.
This is one of the reasons why I bring her with me; if there is a pretty face, she won’t hesitate to introduce herself or me. It is kind of entertaining, but sometimes it is hard to distinguish between minor and adult. The club usually maintains two bouncers outside and one inside to prevent this from happening; but even through tough security they manage to get in.
Along with the appropriate dress code and age requirement there is the entrance fee. After standing in a short line, the fee is only ten dollars. On top of paying a reasonable amount, once you enter and receive your Ying-Yang stamp, there are two men giving out free passes for your next visit. Capriccios is one of the only clubs in Houston that do this. The entrance is a bright fuchsia that automatically catches your eye and converts the mood. The club even goes out of its way to please their customers by creating a web site offering free passes for drinks and entrance.
Another way Capriccios reaches out to their clientele is by their website, http://www.caprilatin.com.Its picture gallery is one not to be missed. Every time you visit Capriccios, you have the opportunity to have your picture taken with friends, dancing or simply just hanging out. It is an excellent way to reach out to their customers and make a memorable connection. Along with the numerous photos and free passes, the upcoming events are posted daily.
One of the most popular parities held at Capriccios is the Colombian Independence Festival. Neighboring Colombian restaurants that offer affordable prices caters the traditional food. There is sometimes a thirty-minute wait in line before you get a chance to order, but it is worth the wait. Another favorite is the talented DJ Guanakito. His blend of Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, and Reageton sets him apart from all the Spanish DJs in Houston. His energetic attitude and love of music truly shows in his performances.
“Everybody on the dance floor, this is for you!” Is one of DJ Guanakito’s favorite phrases.
“Raquel, did you ever see what happened to that brunette in the white dress?” asks Rocio.
“Uh, no.” I forgot all about her.
We turn to look towards the restrooms and two young men and a woman escort out the young brunette. Her head hangs low either out of lack of stamina or of mere embarrassment. The crowd barely notices her as if it never happened.
“I guess some get caught and some don’t,” I mumbled.
Rocio and I make our way to the VIP area. An over built bouncer stands by the ropes. The closed off square is about the size of a large SUV. The antique wooden table sets are romantically lit with several white tea candles. Capriccios limit the size of the VIP because they only want a minute, elite list. They keep this area very private with sheer ivory drapes. The few that have the opportunity to reserve this section are close friends of the owners and business associates.
“Busy tonight?” I ask him.
“Not really. It’s only one.” Is his response.
An important fact about the club is that it is meant for post clubbing. Arriving before twelve o’clock, you will find the club generally empty, closely resembling a ghost town.
By the time we circle the club twice greeting people and dancing a couple of songs, we decide our time is up for the night. We make our way through the crowd of people outside the square-patch dance floor. Because of the smoke, we squint our eyes and try not to bump into people on our way out. We wave to our friends at the bar serving drinks and walk through the fuchsia walls.
“Leaving so soon?” Rafael questions.
“Well, its getting late. It’s about to be three,” I say, “Time passes by fast when you’re having fun.”
I wink and smile nonchalantly. We then hug and say good bye under the canopy entrance. Carefully walking down the sloped, concrete walkway we make our way to the valet. I give him my keys and look back at the Capriccios sign. Lit in bright red, the sign hangs in a cursive script. The valet returns in just a few minutes, an addition to the excellent service. I pass him a ten and thank his effort. Driving slowly through the narrow alley that leads to Westheimer, Rocio and I agree that this was another successful journey at Capriccios.