"I love being slutty. It's lots of fun," the 22-year-old chick who looks like she dyed her hair with strawberry Kool-Aid says as she holds up her T-shirt and jumps up and down, jiggling her braless boobs at the bar. Though barely a B-cup, it's obvious Iris is a handful. Indeed, her milk shake brings all the boys to the yard.
Two random dudes – one a dead ringer for Ratboy – sandwich her on a barstool and commence to grabbing her booty. Iris and Ratboy start tonguing each other down; yet even he doesn't seem to mind when the bartender casually walks by and reaches out to palm her left breast before moving on to serve another drink.
Iris, her two tits and the three pairs of hands sexing her up are all essential ingredients in tonight's timeless scene. It's going down at Azul, where the Decatur Social Club jumps off every Friday night till 4 a.m. Turn the clock back five to 10 years prior, and Midtown or Buckhead were the respective places to be. But such is the cycle of life – nightlife included – especially among the perennial college crowd. Now that Buckhead is practically dead and Midtown is next up on the gentrified chopping block, Atlanta's after-hours vibe is in a state of flux. What's hot today could very well be ice-cold tomorrow. Or vice versa.
Take Underground Atlanta, for instance. For years, the city of Atlanta pushed the lame tourist location as a prime spot for the kind of dancing, drinking and debauchery that threatened to give Buckhead a bad name. When city hall began forcing clubs within the city to close an hour earlier while permitting Underground clubs to remain open until 4 a.m., it swung the door open for spots such as House – a 21-and-up club on Kenny's Alley that attracts a collegiate hip-hop crowd on Saturday nights.
While catering to a fickle college-age crowd can be tricky, steadfast promoters know how to satisfy. "College students that go to clubs to dance go out to get drunk and get laid," says Preston Craig, promoter of Decatur Social Club, which attracts a range of legal twentysomethings from surrounding schools such as nearby Agnes Scott, Emory, Georgia State and Georgia Tech. "They do want different things, but in reality they're not that hard to peg down."
One thing Atlanta isn't short on is variety. Recently, the number of indie hipsters has swelled at MJQ's Wednesday night romp, where Brian Parris regularly spins a Brit-pop mix. Meanwhile cats such as Caleb Gauge (Sloppy Seconds) or the effervescent Ree de la Vega (BangBang) continue to bring notoriety to their separate versions of the urban underground with sometimes-weekly parties at the Royal – where the lack of a stated dress code doesn't necessarily mean there isn't one. Think neo-'80s/blip-hop and you should be straight.
And you don't always have to be 21 to party. Rather than blowing your wad on a fake ID, save it for 18-to-party spots such as Club Miami, where junior-level ballers congregate to pop collars instead of bubbly. "Everyone wants to be perceived as a star that has money," says college promoter Terdell Hardaway. "So now, college parties are more upscale."
Acting bourgie is the last thing on Iris' agenda, though. She doesn't even blink when the girl at the end of the bar calls her a "skank." Later, on the dance floor, Iris reveals a bit more about herself. She's not in school, the recent birthday girl admits; but she is a Decatur Social Club regular – and with good reason. "I know the bartender in there and he gives me free alcohol," she says.
Of course, nothing in life is free. Hopefully, Iris won't have to learn the hard way.