Night clubs Bukowski on Brook Hollow

After Sunset: A crawl through the San Antonio club scene - Waldo's Night Club

Al Reyna (left) and J. Marinez, aka Class Act, play during a recent Saturday night gig. The duo performs Wednesday through Saturday at Waldos on Brookhollow. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

"You had so much fun last time you were here you decided to come back, huh?" Kim asked as she placed a napkin and a glass of house Cabernet in front of me.

Within only a couple of visits, I was on a first-name basis with the friendly, young server. It didn't have anything to do with the fact that she told me to call out "Kim!" any time I needed a refill. It was just that she called me "Darlin'" and "Sweetie," and I only had to call out for her one time. She would not be forgotten.

I had been told about Waldo's by coworkers. A big group had gone one night to celebrate the completion of another work day and they chose Waldo's for its "cocktails and music to dance by," as the sign over the club's door proclaims. And because the crowd there is generally more mature than that found at most clubs, there was not the awkward element of self-consciousness present in the meat markets usually frequented by young professionals.

Class Act kicks out the jams every Wednesday through Saturday night, and they take requests. My coworkers had described a night of debauchery and slow-dancing, chain-smoking and camaraderie. So I decided to check the place out, for obvious reasons.

My first visit to Waldo's happened on a Tuesday night, Class Act's night off. I was surprised to find Waldo's snuggled in the corner of a strip mall. This seemed a bad sign, but upon entering, I discovered that it was nothing like the commercial sports bars you typically find in such a locale. In fact, it was more like a lounge of the underworld than a bar on Brook Hollow.

Everything was crimson plush, provoking a sensation of mild senility. I just wanted to relax and fade out, and after a couple of cocktails, I found myself melting into the red, velvety atmosphere of the place. Old country ballads flowed from the jukebox, chosen by the greasy duo sliding around on the dance floor. With elderly couples falling in love all around me, long-legged bartenders in short skirts and sequined tops cooing pet names in my ear, and a marquee on the wall flashing "Welcome to the Nuthouse" in red lights, I wasn't sure if I was in a Twin Peaks episode or had come face-to-face with my own subconscious. I kicked back another cocktail, waltzed over to the jukebox, and fed it every Doors song available.

Waldo's Night Club

14532 Brook Hollow Blvd.
I liked the place and went back almost immediately, eager to hear Class Act and see how the dynamics would change with live music a part of the equation. I returned on a Thursday night and the aforementioned Kim was there offering me wine. The place was filling up more readily as Class Act snuck into the performer's area and started setting up. Around 9:30 p.m., I thought I was out of my mind again when I heard the rich sound of a Hammond B3 organ but saw only two men with a guitar and bass. They must've noticed my confusion because once their first song had ended, they announced that their instruments were hooked up to a synthesizer. I was impressed; not only had everything fixed within Waldo's twisted my mood into a dreamlike state, but the house band was the perfect complement to a fun-house where things are consistently different than they appear.

They filled the night with popular tunes like the Commodores' libidinous anthem "Brick House" (which I requested, and Class Act in turn dedicated to me) and B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone." But the sound was a little more Santana than standard, which added some spice to the highly familiar. Some songs provoked group participation while other slower, more-sultry tunes were enjoyed by lovers floating on a Stetson-scented cloud of longing and departure from the real world.

The Bukowski-esque romanticism of the place made me want to grab someone tight and sway side to side with closed eyes and a thick pulse. When the set ended, Kim returned to the booth with more offerings. "Enjoy, Sweetie."

By Brooke Palmer

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