It was after midnight on a cold Friday night. I was with a group of girls, and we had just gotten off work. We sat on couches and talked about the things servers talk about when theyâ€™re through waiting on tables full of strangers asking for the world.
We did this over adult beverages and called a cab in the meantime. Barb the driver showed up 20 minutes later, and we scrambled to find our purses. He asked where we were headed, and we said, â€œClub Flannyâ€™s, please.â€
Barb ran a red light but he got us to the side door of Flanaganâ€™s Ale House for less than $5. From the back seat, my friend Kate quipped, â€œCab rides from my house are cheaper than draft beer!â€
We all laughed because we knew she was right. Flanaganâ€™s isnâ€™t the cheap, strong drink kind of bar Irish dreams are made of, but we piled out of the cab and onto the sidewalk at Baxter and Morton anyway.
I paid the $2 cover after failing to sweet talk the money-taker and met up in the anteroom with my girls to figure out a plan. We wound up dispensing with intentions to meet again.
I strutted through the courtyard toward a garage-looking building with big doors. My friend looked at me and asked if I was ready, and I said whatever. So she opened the heavy door and we walked through, suddenly tumbling down a tunnel with marmalade, landing in an alternate universe.
There were people dancing everywhere. The place was packed. The humans were gyrating and smiling and getting to know each other. It was dark â€” the only lights in the place were beaming red. The DJ was playing that new Beyonce song about being a pink panther.
We stood at the top of the stairs and stared at the crowd in disbelief. It was fantastic, funny and sad all at the same time. There were hands waving in the air. There were white boys swaying side to side with their hands up on a hip, doing that when-you-dip-I-dip-we-dip number. The crowds around the bar were filled with young adults waving their debit cards and clamoring for Jagerbombs or bottled domestic beer.
It was loud and fast, and we bypassed the all-Caucasian revue to sit on a couch in the new lounge toward the back of Club Flannyâ€™s, which was built two months earlier. (New bathrooms are being installed as you read this.) I sat on the sofa for a bit, trying to prolong the inevitable onslaught of, â€œOmigod, I havenâ€™t seen you since high school!?!â€
See, Iâ€™m one of those girls who went to a Catholic school around these parts, which means I canâ€™t throw a beer bottle in Flanaganâ€™s without hitting three people I know on a nickname basis. The average frequenter of this overpriced, overcrowded house of fun probably graduated from a local high school in the â€™90s or early â€™00s. In a way, Club Flanaganâ€™s is basically a St. Xavier mixer with alcohol.
The people are pretty and the clothes are trendy. Thereâ€™s freak dancing and people kissing and flirting and girls yelling at boys and boys getting mad at boys for talking to the wrong girls. Top 40 tunes are spinning, itâ€™s hot and it just feels like a high school pep rally all over again.
After 40 minutes of taking the pounding of Club Flanaganâ€™s, I realized I had to leave. I wasnâ€™t feeling the fever. So I walked back into the non-clubby part of Flanaganâ€™s to be jolly with the non-dancers.
I immediately ran into my senior year homeroom president. I bought her a birthday shot and we talked about the time she made our homeroom do jumping jacks in exchange for Krispy Kreme donuts. It was part of some â€œHealthy Daysâ€ program. She named off a slew of people who were wandering around the circle bar, and I walked away to find them.
Then I played a good game of eye-contact-avoidance with a boy I used to date, talked to an old babysitter and got the neighborhood gossip from a girl I hadnâ€™t seen since we went to Day-5-Alive together. I gave a lot of sideways-hugs to people I kind of knew through someone else, and then I ran out the door toward Outlook Inn to meet a stranger.