The d-bag affliction

KARA NESVIG; PHOTOS BY CARLOS GONZALEZ | Updated 8/17/2012

The noxious male subculture overtaking the city - and what to do about it.


douchebag -- n. /dush•bag/ 1. (vulgar slang) A man who becomes a spectacle of bad taste and/or behavior in order to attract women

Don't look now, but a disturbing class of male has infiltrated the bars and nightclubs of Minneapolis. They stalk the sidewalks of Uptown and downtown, bedecked and bedazzled in $60 T-shirts and $200 jeans. They flick Visas at bartenders in exchange for endless Vodka Red Bulls. They preen their gelled fauxhawks in bathroom mirrors, and they hit on chicks who may or may not be pleased with their brand of sleaze. Can't put your finger on what's wrong with that dude at the bar? Duh -- the guy might be a douchebag.

This growing breed of gentleman has reportedly risen to epidemic levels in the Twin Cities. At popular bars like Drink and Bar 508 and in dance clubs like Aqua, they seem to turn up in droves. These creatures from the Abercrombie cologne lagoon thrive on campus just as easily, subsisting on $1.50 Long Islands and the blood of eager freshmen, and howling "Don't Stop Believing" on karaoke night in Dinkytown.

Of course, the douchebag phenomenon is really nothing new. Everyone's seen "My New Haircut," a send-up of douchebags from New Jersey, and the popular blog Hot Chicks With Douchebags receives 30 to 40 photo submissions per day and has spawned a coffee-table book. HCWDB creator Jay Louis defines "douchebag" as "any male attempting to turn himself into a spectacle to attract a female. Things like too much bling, orange tans, popped collars, spiky hair, and way too much Axe Body Spray are dead giveaways that you're in the presence of a 'bag."

But now, Twin Cities nightlife has finally become swamped with this bevy of dudes who seem to take their fashion and dating tips from VH1's "Pick-Up Artist," aka Mystery. And the "bags" are a-multiplyin'. "Places I avoid like the plague due to their high concentration of douchebags are places like Spin, or the Drink Uptown patio on Thursday nights," says Nicole Fox, girl-about-town and co-creator of the nightlife blog MPLS Glitteratti. "The dance-club places are crawling with douchebags because they can put on their most bedazzled getups, sunglasses and over-gelled hair and get their 'Look at me! I'm drinking Grey Goose Red Bull!' on and grind on drunk girls."

Luckily, some Minnesotans have grasped the humor of this situation. One anonymous rabble-rouser has set up a spoof Twitter account for the fictional "PePeLeDouche," aka Anthony Thompson of Chaska, whose tweets include such gems as, "I'm spraying on my new Axe cologne. ... One more spray!! Did it in my armpits too. ... It's gonna be hotties at Hooters MOA!!" And the North Loop bar Clubhouse Jäger plans to host its own Hot Chicks With Douchebags-themed dance night on Aug. 22.

As a bar-hoppping local girl myself, I'm alarmed by this trend. I feel it's my duty to go undercover to learn more about the Minneapolis douchebag, his attention-grabbing tactics and the women who trail him. I shimmy into a tube top and miniskirt, slick on the lip gloss and grab a fellow blonde to aid in my quest.

Rumor has it that the bar with the highest concentration of douchery is three-month-old Cowboy Slim's in Uptown ("Cowboy Slim's has cheap drinks, horrible music and dumb girls -- three things every douchebag loves," says Fox). After a 10-minute wait in line, we're granted entry to the bar, which is blasting Big & Rich's "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" to the delight of its patrons, a heavy concentration of men in tacky Affliction T-shirts and über-tan girls in skirts shorter than mine. The men are beefy and stuffed into bright polos, and everyone looks totally wasted.