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Inside The Starck Club

DALLAS, TEXAS -- 1985-89: My favorite place that I would frequently visit in Dallas was the Starck Club.  It was located in the old part of town, where the once life-sustaining warehouses were abandoned and crumbling, right past the forgotten railroad tracks of the forgotten Industrial Revolution.  But this one particular warehouse was adopted and remodeled by the French architect and designer, Philippe Starck.

The Starck Club was owned by numerous people, and one of them was rumored to be Grace Jones but this may not have been true.

Getting into the Starck Club wasn’t easy.  There was always a long line and the club’s doormen were very selective about who they allowed to enter. Since I was in my early twenties with bleached blond hair, I was hip enough to pass.  I also wore black parachute pants while standing in white leather shoes -- all very Duran Duran like.

The first time I entered the Starck Club I was in a state of shock and awe.  It wasn’t just the unique design of the club, but the energy, the music, and the women.  I had never been to a place where so many women looked at me with such sensuality.  They would look into my eyes, smile and maintain eye-contact.  It was so intense, that at times, I had to keep walking until I was able to reach the bar for a bottle of Corona with lime to calm my nerves.

I enjoyed walking around, pussy-footing through the disco clouds.  The place was always dark with only spot-lights shining the Starck Club logo onto the many veil curtains. Between these curtains were white linen chairs and small sofas where people were cuddling together.  

The music was non-stop; it was a heavy industrial beat with an array of synthesizer sounds.  I had never heard music like this before.  Then suddenly I heard the Pet Shop Boys: "I've got the brains, you got the looks, let's make lots of money." And the entire place erupted as everyone began dancing. This also happened when the song "Nemesis" by Shriekback was played, another Starck Club favorite:

Though the style of music kept constantly changing, the beat remained, and the sound, like the club’s surroundings, seemed mystical and infatuating.  Many women were holding onto the balcony railings while men and women where rubbing behind them to the beat of the music, nothing seemed to matter except love and lust. It was very exotic and erotic. 

Below was the staircase to the dance floor, but the dance floor wasn’t the only place where people were dancing; they were dancing everywhere, including on the steps of the staircase itself.  The energy in this club was extremely inviting and sexual.  Frequently, I felt I was in a strange dream, and had to go to the restroom to splash cold water on my face and to check on my hairstyle.

The restroom was a large unisex area with a sleek array of faucets and surrounding mirrors.  In the middle was a large white linen sofa occupied by people with big, wild hairstyles.  It appeared a lot of people liked lounging in the restroom area.  When I tried washing my hands, I couldn’t find the handles to open the water faucet.  Fortunately someone had noticed this and instructed me to simply place my hands under it, and magically the water came out.  I had never seen this technology before.  Everything in the Starck Club seemed modern and stylish, even its restroom.

Right outside the restroom was a small kiosk, attended by a bald-headed man or woman, it was hard to tell.  He or she was selling clove cigarettes among other items.  Every time I saw him her, he she was trying to seduce a female sitting at his or her counter.  He she was always proudly exhibiting his her non-existing cleavage.  If this person was female she could have been related to Grace Jones, except she was not as tall or as charismatic.  If this person was male, he could have been a smaller black Kojak. I later learned that he she was selling ecstasy, which back then was pure MDMA and legal in the state of Texas.

On a subsequent visit to the Starck Club, while standing in line, I discovered that VIPs would cut the queue and go straight to the doorman, point to a clipboard, and enter the club free of charge.  So one day I approached this very attractive black door-woman, who was dressed all in black and wearing big black leather booths, and asked her if my name was on the list, knowing it wasn’t but always trying to avoid paying the $10 cover -- and always trying to gain an additional moment from a beautiful woman.  

Since my last name was difficult to spell, we both scanned for it up-and-down the list and concluded that indeed it wasn’t there.  But this did allow me to see the name “James Brickman.”  Hence, the following week when I returned, I bypassed the long queue, walked straight-up to the door and announced my name James Bond style: “Brickman, James Brickman.” And it always worked.

The Starck Club became a ritual for me.  Every Saturday night I was there.  I believed then that that’s where all the energy and knowledge was.  It certainly was the place where all the hip people gathered.  But for me, it was more than that.  It was the ground zero of culture, like a Greek Temple during the times of the great philosophers.  It was something of a Delphi. It was a new religion. It was the place to be.

Christina de Limur aka Sita with DJ Rick Squillante

But there was another reason I went there.  I had become infatuated with a mysterious woman.  I would always see her from a distance as we made eye-contact.  It always felt strong, intense and meaningful.  She had long blonde hair and fair skin; her eyes seemed big, dark and radiating.  But each time as I sought to move closer, she would suddenly disappear, either behind the rising mist or a veil curtain -- and I was never able to find her afterwards.  

It was very intriguing and existential.  It was my hope that one day I would be able to exchange words with her, but this never came to be.  Our communication would always remain silent and visual.  Perhaps this was a good thing as she might have destroyed the spell by opening her month.  Sometimes it is better to leave mysterious things mysterious, and fantasies fantasies.

I later learned that her name was Sita and that she came from one of those high-society families from San Francisco, which mostly means they live across the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County.  
At any rate, I will always remember her and the encounters we experienced.  

Whether she was high on ecstasy at the time, I will never know.  I like to believe that we experienced an au-natural experience, an organic experience, one without chemical enhancements.  I know in my own case that it was.

And then one day, the Feds raided the Starck Club and it was shut down permanently.  Apparently when the bust occurred there was ecstasy on the floor everywhere as people were quickly unloading.

This was a terrible thing to have happened.  It was the end of the Greek Temple.  It was the death of the Starck Club and of the spirit that so many came to worship.  

As bad as it was for me, it was even worse for other people whose whole life and identity had become the Starck Club.  There were people who had moved to Dallas just for the Starck Club alone.  People simply wished to dance and socialize as free adults.  The people at the Starck Club were always polite and respectful, there was never any hate, violence or destruction; it was all positive energy.  

In the end, the closing of the Starck Club had caused tremendous sadness for a lot of people. They lost their place of worship. For many Stark clubbers, their life was never to be the same.  For others, it was the end of an interesting chapter.  For Sita it meant a first-class ticket back to San Francisco, returning to the lifestyle of high horses and high society, and the mansion in Belvedere.

Christina de Limur (left) aka Sita at another "high society" party 

SUBSEQUENTLY: The Starck Club would remain closed until December of 2010, when it was reopened as Zouk.  After the Pet Shop Boys released their Please album in 1986, they became world famous.  Today, as big celebrities, they are still producing music and performing concerts all over the world.  When performing their song “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” men dressed-up as pigs enter the stage, mocking the song’s theme and capitalism.  After the concert, the Pet Shop Boys count their money and fly away in their private jet, enjoying the fruits and freedoms of the capitalist system.

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