Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Would You Time-Travel to Bars?

Last week, FranT wondered what the most desirable fictional bars were, and it got me thinking: what bars in history, and in which year, would you most want to attend? It combines Fran's idea of the fictional bar with his idea of picking and choosing your time travel destinations. It's tough, and the history of the specific bars gets foggier the further you try to go back. While many of these double as music clubs or night clubs, I'm going to keep it to primarily a bar/establishment that also had entertainment, as opposed to entertainment that happened to serve beer. I could rattle off 20 or 30 classic games or concerts I would've wanted to be at, but that's for another time. I'd like to place myself in a bar during a time when something great was likely to happen. Granted, none of these places would feel as culturally significant at these times, but that's a rabbit hole we don't want to go down right now.

10. The Dugout, Bronx, October 26, 1996

Total homer personal pick for the first one, but I couldn't help myself. The Red Sox insufferably winning the World Series last week had me longing for the Yankee "good old days", and out of 5 championships, none was sweeter than the first one in 1996. I was 16 years shy of being legal then, so it would have been incredible to watch my favorite Yankee championship as an adult (sort of) at my favorite Yankee bar. 

9. Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, 1991

I was never the biggest Grunge fan, but I do agree with the general thought that Grunge changed the game and set the table for pop and alternative rock forever. To watch that come to fruition would have been awesome, and the Crocodile Cafe was the place to catch Pearl Jam in the early 90s before they become rock sensations and Ticketmaster nemeses. I was always much more of a Pearl Jam guy over Nirvana . 

8. Street Corner + Basement, Greenwich Village, early 60's

Okay I know it's technically not a bar, but I'm willing to make an exception to see the following: I had a teacher tell me in high school that when he was younger, his friend told him to go to a certain street corner in the village to catch some great music. His friend told him to "follow the guitar sound" and he'd find the location. He heard the wailing guitars and walked towards the sound, eventually walking into a dimly lit basement. Sitting on milk crates were Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton playing guitar together for a small audience. It sounded like more of a BYOB situation. 

7. Le Select, Paris, 1921

Where Hemingway and the rest of the Lost Generation sat around drinking, being eloquent and profound, and putting off the responsibility of real life. I'm really good at two of those things, and would've loved to have taken part in one of the greatest "hang sesh's" in literary history. 

Wanna hang? 

This is the ultimate place where you could go on any given night and catch a now-classic band. The Doors were the "house band" for a stretch, as were Them, who sported Van Morrison as their front man. Towards the end of Them's run, apparently they jammed out to "Gloria" with The Doors. What could be better than taking that in with a nice, strong cocktail? 

Speaking of Cocktails, the Whiskey A Go-Go in the 60s was apparently one of the most debauched, crazy scenes you could find. I guess with a name like that...

5. New York Martini Bar, late 1930's

Speaking of debauched scenes, I would have loved to be in a smoky nightclub bar in the late 1930s or early 1940s to catch an early performance of Frank Sinatra. I could totally get into rocking a nice 3 piece suit (although fedoras were never my thing) and crush a dirty martini in a smoky, dark restaurant and listen to a young "old blue eyes" sing away. I would have to smoke a cigarette, right? 

4. The Green Dragon, Boston, early 1770's. 

FranT and I actually went to the Green Dragon this past spring with a small militia of imbibers, but unfortunately we were over 200 years too late. The Sons of Liberty regularly met at the Green Dragon all during the 1760's and 1770's, setting in motion all the ideologies and plots that would shape the American Revolution. To be in that room as guys are about to change history would be unbelievable. Unlike the NY Martini bar though, I would refuse to dress in a powdery wig and pantaloons to blend in. 

3. The Saloon near the O.K. Corral, Tombstone, AZ, October 26, 1881

It's a known fact that every Old West town had at least one saloon, and the Tombstone Saloon would have been a BLAST on October 26, 1881 (side note: 10/26 also game 6 of the '96 Series above, weird). The saloon was probably buzzing before and after the famous shootout, and maybe Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp even came in for some whiskeys after dispatching of the outlaws. If you somehow got into their crew after that, you were in for a wild night. And if anyone else challenged them to another shootout, I could've been of some value now that I'm an expert marksman after my trip to Kentucky in September.

I got you Doc

2. The Marquee Club, London, July 12th, 1962

This was the site of the Rolling Stones first ever show. Sure it probably sounded terrible, and you probably couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a druggie, an annoying British guy, or an annoying British guy on drugs, but to see Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on the very first night of what you know lies ahead of them would be something. 

1. The Stone Pony, Asbury Park NJ, 1975

Everyone makes it sound like Bruce Springsteen played his very first concerts at the Stone Pony, but that wasn't exactly the case. Even though the Stone Pony didn't even open until 1974, a year before Born to Run, the Boss made frequent and unexpected appearances at the Stone Pony during his ride to the top of rock music and after. The chance at catching a young Springsteen is reason enough to make this number one, but an added bonus was Stone Pony regulars and Springsteen buddy Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Imagine spending a 4th of July on the Jersey Shore seeing a young Springsteen belt out "Sandy" and other early hits, which to this day are still my favorite. 


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  2. Another good one from NYC: Copacabana Nightclub during the '50s. Imagine having a front-row seat as Mickey, Yogi, and Whitey caused absolute mayhem. Modern-day media would have had a field day with them.