So there I was last Friday night, barreling down Hwy. 77 on what Mapquest told me was a 25-minute journey from Minneapolis to my destination: an adventure in Apple Valley.
The southern suburb has been home to Bogart's Nightclub for 17 years -- grandpa years by nightclub standards. On weekend nights, the club, which also houses a smaller dive bar and a 24-lane bowling alley, can fill to capacity.
Bogart's, if you haven't guessed, is themed after Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart. While that seems a bit out of place in today's nightclub scene, the younger patrons don't seem to mind -- or notice -- the "Casablanca" murals still plastered on the walls.
Over the years, the club carved out a live-music niche in this area "south of the river" (as locals call it). But with sprawling retail and business here and in neighboring Burnsville, Bogart's has seen competitors spring up, too. While it can get big crowds for bands such as G.B. Leighton and Hairball, Bogart's is now trying to set itself apart with a couple of themed club nights.
General manager Brian Moe said he recently hatched an idea to bring downtown to the 'burbs. On Thursdays and Sundays, he brings in downtown DJs and go-go dancers. Also on Thursdays, the club has "naughty nurses" -- costumed women who offer Jell-O shots in faux syringes.
Last Friday night, Tone Loc was in the house. Yes, that Tone Loc, of "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina" fame. Not exactly Kanye West, but c'mon: Tone Loc, rocking the 'burbs almost 20 years past his prime? I had to see this.
When Tone took the stage just after 11 p.m., his voice sounded every bit as deep and harsh as it did in 1989. Pure gravel. "Oh yeeeeah, Apple Valley in the house!" he said, throwing the crowd into a frenzy.
His head was shaved and adorned by those trademark black sunglasses -- maybe the same pair he's been wearing since "Wild Thing." In plain jeans and a black T-shirt (no bling), he went through his hits, frequently inserting "Apple Valley" into his raps.
As I looked around at the crowd, I thought to myself: Wow, these people are having a lot of fun. From twentysomethings to soccer moms, the crowd was diverse, dressed in all sorts of wildness and dancing. Not all of it was good dancing, but that didn't matter. Nothing mattered to anybody except having a good time. In suburban clubs, I've found, there is less pretense, less inhibition. And that's cool.
Tone Loc thought so, too -- he later hit the dance floor himself, mingling with clubbers. He said that it was his first time in Apple Valley, and that he approved of its awesomeness:
"There ain't no party like an Apple Valley party," he growled.
Right you are, Mr. Loc. Right you are.