Aerin It OutColumnsNightlife

My First Visit to Bazal Ends in the Bathroom

A hot mess

Back in time, gun violence, post pandemic social scene, Optimist Hall, Waffle House
Aerin Spruill

“God it’s hot,” I thought to myself as I plopped down in a vacant bathroom stall. Weary and worn down from standing in a 45-minute line at Bazal, I slowly leaned to one side to pull a couple of thin squares of toilet paper off a roll. I dabbed the sweat from my brow and ‘stache and let out a deep sigh. I looked down at my heeled feet, ankles buckled outward in a sad attempt to take the pressure off my tired soles.

At this point, I could flush and return to the girls. Instead, I reached for my Red Bull Vodka, a cocktail I’d sworn off three years ago. Normally, taking a drink in the bathroom would be a faux pas, but this time it was intentional. 

For one, the humidity and stickiness had followed us into the two-story venue, so your girl was parched. For two, there was nowhere to sit except for the corner of a bench that could hold a single buttcheek (which I knowingly forfeited the moment I went to the bathroom). And three, I wanted to drink every penny in solitude with only the faint sound of the bass in the background. So there I sat, casually drinking my RBV on a toilet texting my girlfriend, “Girl. I am at a f*cking club rn.”

Record scratch, *freeze frame*, and an omniscient version of myself narrates, “Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got here. Well so am I.”

Four days prior, I’m minding my business at the office and one of my coworkers saunters over and leans against the supply credenza behind me seeking respite from her desk. Every now and again, a little office fellowshipping can get the creative juices flowing. My teammate scooched back in her chair and I swung mine around to create a triangle perfect for a quick touch base. 

Before long, we were on the topic of upcoming weekend plans. That’s when the seed of chaos was planted. One of the girls mentioned that Saturday was the grand opening of Bazal, the new kid on the nightlife block in the AvidXchange Music Factory cul-de-sac. Positioned as an upscale/elevated art gallery and nightclub, the 32-year-old dive bar lover in me cringed, but a looming column deadline was titillated by the itch for something new. 

“Buh-Zawl, Bay-Zil, Ba-Zil. However you pronounce it,” I overheard someone say, may be new, but images and videos capturing the grandeur entryway with a seemingly angelic ceiling mural that conjures a Michelangelo Sistine Chapel vibe begging you to look up is no stranger. Contrast the modern gallery feel with images of the dark, moody, and a Beetlejuice-like aesthetic and you have a raised eyebrow of intrigue. I knew without a doubt that Bazal would be bizarre. 

My boyfriend inquired, “Are you not going to take flats?” But really he wasn’t asking it as a question, more a suggestion and response to my complaining about the perceived threat of standing in line for an extended time. I buckled my seatbelt, chuckled, and said adamantly, “I hate people who do that.”

As I stood at the top of the cul-de-sac, looking at where Butter and Club One (previous 950 North Carolina Music Factory tenants) once stood and I remembered why I stopped going to the club in the first place. Two somewhat distinct lines ascended both stairwells to Bazal, growing exponentially with every second that passed. I joined one in the hopes that my $20 VIP ticket would expedite my wait time. I was wrong and immediately I thought about those fold-up purse flats just chilling at CVS.

“You ready for my quote?” One of my coworkers who’d joined me in line asked with a tinge of frustration in her voice. She continued, “Pretty girls shouldn’t stand outside for a long time.” We laughed, but they were the kind of laughs that imply agreement so deep that we would be easily convinced to leave at any second. And also the kind of perpetually tired, now annoyed, and quite humid laugh that could turn into an entire scene.

“I hate everyone up there,” someone in line whispered to her girlfriend, referring to the super VIPs taking pics on a red carpet in front of a logoed backdrop, smiling faces waving down at friends in line teasing them with their “fast passes” and minimal schvitz. I looked down at my feet trying to decide if I should go barefoot now or later and, at that moment, I think I was hatin’, too. 

When we finally walked through the doors, I’d hoped for a gust of icy AC to slap my edges and attitude back into place. Or that the awe-inducing gallery art would send a chill down my warm spine. I found no such solace. The Vegas-style resort, casino, and a magic show allure faded, tainted by my urge to go to the bathroom, chug my drink, and leave.

On a different night and in a different outfit though, Bazal, we may just have been two peas in a pod.

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