"Ten euros for everyone."
A $13.50 cover charge for a party of five confirmed early indications that this was not exactly the hot spot we anticipated. Further confirming it was the darkly lit scene inside: a tiny dance floor, balloons piled on the floor, streamers hanging overhead, party hats and favors on every sticky table. Four coked-out 16-year-olds swayed arhythmically to some trashy discotheque beat. We had just arrived at a David Lynch-directed birthday party and it was already time to go.
In most major American cities, seediness has been either been yuppified and repackaged or zoned out of oblivion. Here in Cannes, it's about as hard to find as a creative director with a case of schadenfreude. Red-lighted nooks of debauch -- staffed out by members of the oldest profession, as the euphemism goes -- abut the La Croisette's orderly line of art deco hotels and bars that teem with festival-goers, hosting activities that make the Gutter Bar at 4 a.m. look tame, places remind me that Roman Polanski was right about some things, especially the main takeaway from his paranoiac opus "Frantic," that France can be a damn creepy place.
Just three nights in, I'm wondering whether all this is manifesting bodily. Besides the obvious physical fallout of 26 total hours of fairly committed drinking on 13 hours of sleep -- most dangerously, a stomach that needs about as much care as an IED-lined street in Baghdad -- I feel like the grime is setting in.
Despite my best hygienic effort, my hands are perpetually tacky and I awoke today with an confusing amount of dirt under my fingernails -- better than blood, of course, but an interesting development nonetheless, given that the sum of my manual labor these days has been lifting a glass. A pair of white Chuck Taylors are covered in dirt generally and speckled with splotched of some unidentified dark brown material.
The state of my footwear is an especial embarrassment at yacht parties where one is required to remove one's shoes before entering. These yacht parties are one of my least favorite kinds of gatherings. The main problem is an extremely limited beverage selection, with the bars consisting solely of champagne and wine, neither of which provides a good foundation for houses of whiskey and beer. Another problem is the aforementioned grime put in stark contrast by the crisp, cleanness of other revelers wearing lots of white linen and pastels and, against the odds, largely pulling it off. The third problem is that they never go anywhere. They just sit there, docked. Having attended three of these events, I feel my yacht party days are at an end.
Unless, of course, an invitation to one of these yachts became available. Several news outlets have reported that Rupert Murdoch and family as well as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are in nearby Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc for the Scientology-based marriage of an Australian society couple.
And here we are stuck with James Blunt.