Money Don’t Buy Ya Class

You know how sometimes you go off in an email and you have to just walk away to let the steam wear off before you actually hit send? I was in one of those quandaries last Thursday night with this blog post. After several days of cooling off, I still don’t really have any nice things to say. You’ve been forewarned.

Let me begin by stating that I am not a part of the club crowd. Even when I was going to clubs, I’d have to get trashed to withstand any of it. Enter the invite I received to the grand opening party of Narcisse Champagne & Tea Lounge, “toasting a new era in elegant dining and nightlife.” They broke the evening up into 3 stages: A VIP/Media Preview from 6-8 (to which I was invited), RSVP’d guests from 8-10, and open to the public starting at 10 for the nightlife. With a name like Narcisse, it didn’t sound like the place would be my speed, but I figured I’d go and at least check out the menu that we were supposed to be sampling during the event.

I arrive at 6 and find a table outside, with velvet ropes and all, manned by unbelievably scantily clad girls with hair teased and sprayed to the skies like they were ready to walk a runway. Rather than donning the latest fashions, however, they had text stamped on their expanses of skin, reading things like “Taste me, I’m delicious!” and lip prints everywhere like there had been an orgy in the dressing room. Now that screams sophistication. My name was checked off the list and I was directed to go down the red carpet to a girl with wristbands. Had it not been for a manager-type guy standing in the way, arguing with another employee, I might have been able to get by. He was not bothered by my presence and I was apparently perfectly capable of turning around and walking on the outside of the rope to get my wristband. Great first impression for a media audience.

As we went up the escalator and in the main entrance, I couldn’t help but notice another  red carpet, photo-op backdrop, several employees standing around talking and texting, and no photographer. Again, as we looked around for some direction, there was no acknowledgement that we were even there. Inside there were people milling about and champagne distributor reps stationed at various tables, ready to fill my non-existent glass. The bar was open, but they weren’t providing champagne glasses. Some detective work devised that we were supposed to grab one from the table at the entrance, not that any direction or assistance was provided whatsoever.

At this point you’re likely saying “but Chase, it was their grand opening and everyone has service kinks to work out on opening night.” Well I actually heard they’ve been open for about a month now and they personally invited the media to come at this time to evaluate the place. It’s not like I was showing up as some secret shopper to sabotage their service, they had my name on a list of people who would be writing about the experience, for goodness’ sake.

After obtaining my champagne glass (that a friend had to grab off the table out front while the employees still looked around like deer in headlights), I even had a problem gaining the attention of some of the distributor reps. A couple of the women were so busy talking to each other that they couldn’t be bothered to pour champagne, and often I had to ask what it was that was poured in my glass. Come on people, it’s your job to sell me on the damn product! The supposed sampling of the menu amounted to a bite of steak on a pile of garlic mashed potatoes with, as I believe the cocktail waitress described them, “some cute little mushroom things.” I wanted to say “Awww, bless your heart, honey, you’re sweet. Now go put some clothes on and run along back to school.” It tasted good, but a plastic fork and no knife made it difficult to eat for those with smaller mouths than mine. I was also lucky enough to score a plastic cup of greens with some sweet dressing and a slice or two of pear. When questioned about the dressing, the second cocktail waitress had to run back to the kitchen to retrieve the answer. It didn’t matter, since I couldn’t hear the response over the noise of the crowd. Sure was some elegant dining!

So that brings up another point, as the venue filled with hundreds of people (still supposedly the VIP/Media phase of the evening), it became ever-so-apparent that the place had high ceilings; it was loud and hot. There’s something seriously wrong about having sweat drip down my back in the middle of winter at a cocktail reception. To add to the crowd, there were ridiculous performers scattered about. As if a ballerina belonged at the bar, stretching her legs out and doing pirouettes? Then there was the indescribable chick in the photo who was just floating along the floor and creeping people out with random cotton ball antics.

We decided to get some air and head out to the balcony where we could hear each other speak. Unfortunately, they had the heat lamps turned on outside. When I asked one of the servers if they could turn off the one above us, I got an uneasy response of “I don’t know, I don’t think we can, but maybe you could move to the other end where there are smaller heat lamps.” So much for getting some air!

I saw a lot of great people who I would love to have sat down and caught up with under different circumstances, but I just had to get out of there. At 7:50pm I had to fight my way past people to get out the door and saw the line of apparent RSVP’d guests growing downstairs. I stopped elsewhere to get some dinner on the way home and managed to tweet the sentiment that still resonates today: thank you, Narcisse, for bringing my own personal hell a little closer to home. This place embodies everything I cannot stand about our society that should have been left in Vegas, as described in their own words…

“This unique Champagne & Tea Lounge is suited to fulfill the desires and needs of the affluent self loved characters from all the surrounding areas of Scottsdale to metro Phoenix. The champagne bar will serve as an upscale destination with an air of sophistication and sensual style. The atmosphere inter mingles genres of stately old world opulence with a nuance of modern charm. Narcisse is a unique gathering place intended to stimulate the senses of taste sight and sound. Its progressive atmosphere will tease, excite and celebrate these senses continually throughout the experience.”

7 responses to this post.

  1. I wound up poking my nose into that place a few weeks ago. Just from my brief experience, I’d have to agree with your “personal hell” comment. So flashy and overblown to the point of nausea. I’m sure the $30,000 a year millions are drooling over it, though.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Erica Olsen on February 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    It sounds to me like you made your mind up about this place before you even arrived. Not every venue is for everyone. It’s fitting that you titled this post “money can’t buy ya class” because it take a serious lack of class to insult the people who planned this extravagant event and were even gracious enough to extend an invitation to you (when you are neither truly media nor VIP – let’s be honest). Next time, save us all the drivel and stay home.

    Reply

    • Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if we’re being honest, let’s admit EVERYONE was invited. The fact that I followed up with the purpose of the invite, to give my review of the place, should not be held against me. If I were to fluff up everything simply because someone asked me to come, there’d really be no point. But thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my drivel!

      Reply

  3. Posted by LivedinItaly on February 17, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Ouch! Open for a month and management has not provided any guidance to the staff on their responsibilities? Put me in there for a week and you will see a very noticeable improvement! The “manager-type guy arguing with another employee” obviously doesn’t know anything about leadership and leading by example, preferring to use bullying and intimidation. Not the way to get or keep my business. Any bets on how long this club will be open?

    Reply

    • Good service is certainly a basic essential that is, unfortunately, often overlooked. I think the general consensus is another 3 months or so. But you never know, they obviously have money to spend!

      Reply

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