As day turns to night . . .

In the wee hours after dark, downtown Victoria takes on a different beat from its sleepy, daytime pulse.

In the wee hours after dark, downtown Victoria takes on a different beat from its sleepy, daytime pulse. At the witching hour, the air becomes electric as literally hundreds of gaily dressed young women — and their darker companions — line the streets outside a plethora of nightclubs and bars.

For those who rarely venture out by moonlight, most of these clubs appear practically invisible by day. A simple doorway with a subtle sign suddenly blossoms into velvet ropes and muscled bouncers to provide a gateway to pounding beats, neon lights and free-flowing alcohol.

The young women are dressed to attract with skirts short enough to shock and dresses that cling like a second skin. They’ve taken time to style their hair into loops, curls and waves, and carefully applied makeup to make a statement about their personalities — from demure to glamorous to sexy and dangerous. The men have taken less care. The pants are baggy, shirts loose and the hair is more ‘I took a nap’ than ‘I give a damn.’

The regulars seem to know which velvet rope to stand behind in order to quicken entry. Knowing the bouncer obviously helps, and the shorter skirts don’t wait outside for too long either. At one club, I ascend a steep set of stairs, at another I descend, but in both cases the air changes as I arrive at dance level. To sober nostrils, the tang of alcohol mixes with perfume, sweat and pheromones. Half the bodies vibrate on the floor to a beat that shakes the fillings in my molars. The other half hold to the edges and darker corners, mingling, talking, watching. I wonder if the talkers can lip read or if they simply enjoy the intimacy of having to press flesh in order to be heard.

This is the upside; the side that makes me wish I could slide back into my youth, be cocky and confident and eager to conquer the world. But as the hours slide by, so does the glamour. Outside a popular club on Douglas St., a young man stumbles out into the night. He doesn’t notice the bright yellow jackets of VicPD’s Late Night Great Night task force officers who are constantly monitoring for trouble in order to stop any violence before it can spread to those who are simply out for a good time. The young man staggers to one side, vomits on the sidewalk, and keeps walking as though he’s merely burped. Another young man crosses Douglas in the middle of the block with a slice of pizza in his hand; he’s so wasted that he walks directly in front of the task force’s gigantic, reflective transport vehicle, forcing the driver to slam on the brakes to avoid squashing him like a bug. Pizza dude doesn’t even blink.

As for the glamorous women, their attractiveness slips when, at three in the morning, we find several of them in a back alley, skirts hiked up even higher, and squatting against a brick wall. Rivers of urine flow past their high heels to pool in the street. Suddenly, I’m thankful for the wisdom that age brings. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Sara Lopez Assu says she’s relatively happy with how the Campbell River Art Gallery team managed to weather the storm that was 2020. File Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River Art Gallery director reflects on ‘maybe our hardest year ever’

‘It would be easy to look back and be disappointed … but that’s not going to get us anywhere’

Most Read