Name of Bar: Indochine
Also Known As: The Fishbowl
Address: 434 State Street
Location: The last block of lower State Street, between Bucatini and Bizerk
Days/Hours: 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m. every night
Happy Hour: 6-10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, $4 beers and $5 specialty drinks
Known For: Southeast Asian theme and its dance floor, which abuts a huge window facing State Street
Notable Décor: Thai ornamental carving around the mirror behind the bar and a massive engraving of Buddha in the front room
Patrons: 20-somethings looking for something a little more intimate than Tonic and a little more exotic than Sharkeez
Special Draw: Best bar for exhibitionists!
Music: Hip-hop infused pop with cranked-up bass
Find of the Night: Partially smoked clove cigarette
Dress Code: Button-down shirts for men, high-low dresses for women
Patron of Note: An elderly man dressed as a sea captain with a pair of ski goggles dangling from his neck
Questionable Observation: Cocktail napkins…cocktail napkins everywhere.
Before you leave, you should…: Grind the window…or not
My Experience: From across the street at Whiskey Richards, all you can see are their silhouettes. Blackened figures in one massive tangle squirm to a beat that you hear as a pulse through your feet, not as a tickle in your ear. The dancers press themselves against the glass. As I watch, I can’t help but wonder what it’s like inside the Fishbowl. I got in line.
The place was alive with the Ritual of the Hunt. The thump of the bass rattled my soul, and there to meet my eyes were soaring mirrors and pillars that shot towards the sky, making the small room look longer, taller, skinnier — as though we were celebrating the sky. In the DJ’s flashing light, the Buddha on the wall felt tribal, cultish, hungry. On the dance floor, men and women groped at each other with eyes unmeeting, and cocktail small-talk did little to mask true intentions.
My mind wandered back thirteen years to a scene from the TV-movie The Mists of Avalon. I remembered the pagan mating scene that so puzzled and excited pre-pubescent me, and here I beheld a strange likeness among the college students and swarthy foreign men. But just as gunpowder had replaced steely blades and the Church had vanquished pagan earth-love, the pulse of formulaic hip-hop had replaced the lusty drumming of far-off sirens I remembered from that first Awakening.
This was the modern hunt. It wore flip-flops and dresses from Forever 21, and it smoked e-cigarettes that lit up blue. I went to the back patio, quite nice under the February sky. I found half a clove cigarette in an ashtray and, in a pitiful moment, lit it against a candle on one of the outdoor booths. My eyes rose to the disco ball hanging from the rafters, and I asked myself why disco balls don’t seem to turn anymore. Instead, this disco ball sent immobile but luminous red splashes of light across the floor, shaped – fittingly enough – like a million dazzling fermatas.
The Indochine is an interesting place, and it offers an altogether different kind of club experience than the rest of the joints on State Street. That said, many of the vexing elements of State Street clubs can be found here as well. A shot of well whiskey breaks the bank at $7, and their highly gendered practice of waiving the $5 entrance fee for women could be more progressive. At the same time, they’ve cultivated a certain sexiness here, a kind of sultry, bedroom charm hung with blood red jewels. A mystical lust. The perfect setting for a modern hunt.