Two cities, one line

A crowd of men is waiting to get in the club, looking extremely pissed off.

They’re yelling at the door guy, a tiny man barely topping five feet who resembles the late Don Ho, except with large glasses and a gnarly frown. He insists that only six people can get in free as performers, the rest have to pay full price. It’s an idea that doesn’t sit well with the crowd. The men argue back and forth, haggling for a cheaper price like a bunch of ladies at a Tijuana vending booth. Don Ho is not smiling and looks like the last time he did was many years ago. “Ten dollars,” he says, firm.

“Wha’d he say?” one guy near the front of the line shouts.

“He said only six people get in free,” someone else yells.

The struggle continues, the line thickening with mostly black 20-somethings, decked out in oversized Ts, crooked caps, platinum chains and impatient eyes.

It’s Friday night and we’re outside Club Tropical, which is parallel to I-80 in Vacaville, just beyond the famous Nut Tree and factory outlets. Smack dab in the middle of seemingly hundreds of gas stations, crappy motels and mini-marts, it’s anything but “tropical.” Visually, it’s the kind of place where you’d expect a guy to fly through a window, or get thrown from the front door onto his inebriated face.

“Sac 2 Vac,” the event where rappers from two cities get the opportunity to share a stage, is in full-swing. However, many are still outside, waiting to get in. Featured is Sacramento’s M.R. Story, the Bay Area’s J. GiB and Soulja Boyz, and the headliner, Bueno, also of Sacramento, along with a host of other artists. Performances last only a few minutes on a tiny stage. Inside, the crowd’s reaction is minimal. People mostly choose to gather around the bar to chat with friends and sip on unnaturally blue drinks instead of watching the performers. Unfortunately, it’s a hip-hop sausage party, the event bringing only about seven women altogether, the most interesting of them a tiny white girl “dancing” ferociously like she’s been possessed by a rhythm-less devil.

For the average suburban nerd, who meekly admires hardcore rap from the safety of his headphones, the night threatens to be awkward. However, nobody seems to mind that a dork wearing argyle socks is pushing his way to the front of the line.

For the remainder of the night, people stand in the doorway, arguing with Don Ho, who keeps the same demeanor: joyless and cold.

But after much bickering and many more tense moments, he finally finds the spirit of “the King of Hawaiian Entertainment,” and lets everybody in for five bucks—half price.

Well, almost, everybody. SN&R, of course, gets the special rate.

“Ten dollars,” he says without a smile. Firm.