The unbelievable, true story of Club Pepsi


Don O’Brien /flickr

Jackson Cooper
      Staff Writer


The best worst decision of my life (so far) was the fourth Peachy Keen Soda. Absolut Peach Vodka, Monin Peach, Peach Schnapps, and club soda—my kind of drink.


My friend, for confidentiality reasons we’ll call him “Joe,” was on his fifth glass of Merlot. Around us, tea lights provided ambiance as clusters of twenty-somethings chattered about Lena Dunham in tight booths.

This lounge, the Art Bar on 8th Avenue in New York, was, in the minds of Joe and myself, the destination for the night but once the drinks kicked in, this dingy bar would become the starting point for the evening.

“Let’s go exploring,” My speech became impeccable when I was pushed past being tipsy.

Joe snorted loudly, “Exploring? In the Village?”

“Yeah, like a club or something—maybe a Mexican restaurant; I’m hungry.”

We closed our tab and began to walk the streets of Greenwich Village. I was up visiting friends and seeing shows on one of my monthly trips to the City and, following a long day of interviews and rehearsals, I asked Joe if he wanted to go for a drink. That drink turned into two then four then a proposition from Joe: “I know a club we can go to.”

My mind was blurred, perhaps it was from drinking or my exhaustion, but what felt like two subway stops later, we were in Chinatown walking into a neon lit Chinese restaurant.

The restaurant looked like every other small Chinese restaurant: dirty tiled floors, few tables that encourage you to get your order to-go, and an obtrusive Pepsi machine.

Joe walked up to the counter and said, in impeccable speech too, “We’d like to see the back room.” My mind cleared quickly, comprehending the weight of that statement. Oh god, I thought, I’m going to die tonight in a “Hostel” reenactment.

The man behind the counter asked in broken English for our IDs. We were both 21 so he nodded, came out from behind the counter and banged on the side of the Pepsi machine. The dispenser opened like a door, revealing a narrow hallway decorated with Christmas lights on its walls. We took our IDs, stepped in, and the soda machine shut behind us.

We walked what seemed like hours down the well-lit hallway, multi-colored lights decorating the way.

I wasn’t nervous about where we were, I trusted that Joe would not take us to somewhere that didn’t have more than two exits or that could put us in danger. Although, at this point, I was seriously doubting him.

Then, out of nowhere, we walked out onto a catwalk above a room that seemed to have expanded Willy Wonka-style from its small entrance.

The room looked to be the size of a hotel ballroom, but had the feeling of Studio 54—disco balls spun, house music blared through hidden speakers, hanging cages held scantily clad men and women dancers, all setting the scene for the 300 people on the dance floor to have the best night in New York City.

We made our way down the catwalk onto the floor, dancing with strangers, ordering drinks (which seemed to be free because no one ever asked for a card or cash), and experience a “Paint Run” where everyone stripped to their underwear and paint bombs were dropped on the crowd. It felt like days passed in this void, while time also seemed to stop.

When Joe and I left the club, went up the catwalk, and stepped out of the Pepsi machine, we were in a daze. Perhaps it was coming down from the drinks or the adrenaline rush, but I wasn’t able to comprehend what exactly happened.

By this time, the sun was rising above the skyline of the city. And in my exhaustion, I realized that I managed to see life stop for several hours. It’s nice when you don’t have to worry about any responsibilities for a bit.

I went back the next time I was up and the store wasn’t there any more; nothing, not even a remnant of the store. Joe doesn’t talk about it anymore; neither do I. But I remember it. I’ll always hope that one day it comes back when I do. 


Categories: Columns, Opinions, Uncategorized

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