San Jose Stories and Tips

Cactus Club's Happy Hour

The Cactus Club Photo, San Jose, California

The longest running live music venue in San Jose also boasts a great bottom-of-the-barrel happy hour. Your feet will stick to the floor, but the drinks are cheap and strong. The names here have been changed to protect those who are now sober. If any.

When Humphrey Bogart said, "The only thing you owe the public is a good performance," he may as well have been talking about the clientele who inhabit the Cactus Club's happy hour from 5pm-8:30 every night. The constituency of dubious characters in attendance never ceases to be amazing. A pal of mine, I'll call him Lucifer, works behind the bar, sometimes wearing a white lab coat while he smashes the cockroaches with a rubber mallet.

One night: A scrumptious tattooed stripper, after popping pills at the bar and washing 'em down with a few Coronas, found herself on the floor of the girls' bathroom, screaming for someone to, um, penetrate her. Meanwhile, Jim Bob, the guy works in the pizza window, was taking pictures.

Another night: Big Freddie, the club’s quintessential 300 pound bald-headed baby-huey-looking bouncer with a quarter-inch thick ring in his nostrils, smoked a little too much rock one afternoon. He decided to head-butt the plate glass window of Earl Schieb's detail shop next door, shattering the entire window in less than a heartbeat. He wound up with shards of glass protruding from his chest and screaming "hail satan" while three paramedics struggled to lift his heavy frame into the ambulance.

Still another night: A crazy girl often sat alone at the bar, giggling to herself for no apparent reason, so she was christened with the nickname, "Giggles." One day, for no apparent reason, she came in and decided to eat all the lemons. To the explosive annoyance of the bartender, Giggles just sat there for one hour, eating every single lemon wedge from the tray behind the bar. She'd briefly salt them up and suck all the juice out of them. She's now in a mental institution.

One more night: One guy, I don't know his name, used to come in all the time, but now he's 86ed from the place. He looks sort of like a cross between Howard Stern and Cornelius from The Planet of the Apes. Usually he'd be outside the club drinking from a 40 ounce bottle in a paper bag. Then he'd come into the bar, totally incoherent, and start trying to kiss every girl at the bar. (The female to male ratio for Cactus Club's happy hour is usually about 1 to 10, but on this day there were a few girls hanging around). Anyway, he proceeded to knock about three glasses of beer down and then he went into to the girls' bathroom and began yelling at the toilet. So the bartender and the security guard physically tossed him out the front door, while bottles crashed in the background and "Mercy Seat" by Nick Cave blasted from the stereo.

I can go on and on, but I'll leave it that. If you're in Downtown San Jose during the dinner hour, stop by the Cactus Club for a $2 warm Budweiser or a really strong Long Island Iced Tea for $3. You just can't beat that.

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