We all see our friends tagged in Facebook pictures having the time of their life out on the town, but we rarely see the dark side. I’m talking about the side that involves sitting alone at 4am with cheese-stained clothes from a Taco Bell chalupa that you don’t remember eating while you drunk text your ex-girlfriend and listen to infomercials on TV in the background.
Bachelorhood in my twenties has taught me that talking to cute girls in a bar is a lot like playing the slot machines, but instead of feeding it quarters I’m feeding it overpriced fruity drinks that I haven’t heard of. I know that the second I give up and walk away, the next guy in will barely have to touch it and will hit the jackpot. Reality is never quite what the illusions of youthful joy lead us to believe. That’s why I give you – the reality of what you can really expect at a few of the “hot” spots around Louisville.
4th Street Live! – Girls, do you own that really slutty dress that screams “buy me drinks while I cocktease you all night!”? Even after they see you bar dancing and doing body shots off of the DJ, are you confused that men don’t respect you for your mind? This is your kind of place. You’ll get plenty of free drinks since the frat boys have plenty of their parents’ money to spend – better not let it go to waste.
Connections (Floyd Street) – First things first – this is a gay bar. Girls come here to dance the night away with men and not feel threatened. Straight men go here to mercilessly hit on the girls that came to feel not threatened. Usually those men just feel intimidated that guys that like to suck dick are in better shape than they are and are perplexed that their constant talking about football doesn’t impress anyone. They usually mutter “this is gay” at least twice while not being smart enough to realize the irony of their comment.
The Electric Cowboy (Dixie Hwy) – Everyone you meet here will claim that they’re only there because “this is where my friends were going and I got dragged along”. As somebody that grew up in Pleasure Ridge and moved away, I can say that I’m grateful that Dixie Highway finally has some sort of “nightlife” that doesn’t involve hanging out at the Valley Station Wal-Mart or fine tuning meth formulas. Of course, the quality of meth in the city will suffer, but that’s a small price to pay for watered down Jim Beam and a place for fat cougars to dance. To make things interesting, challenge yourself to try to get and maintain an erection for 20 seconds while you’re in the building. For women, your challenge is to not get drugged.
The Holy Grale (Baxter Ave) – This is a place for true aficionados of beer. I was kicked out for not having a beard. You can overcome the beard rule if you’re pretentious enough though. If you want to really have fun, order a Miller Lite and observe the reaction.
O’Shea’s / Flanagan’s / Molly Malone’s (Baxter Ave) – You could swap the signs outside of these bars and nobody would know the difference. I don’t want to say that they won’t let black people in these bars (since those “anti-discrimination laws” were passed they have legal obligations), but I will say that it makes most of their customers uncomfortable. If you’re black, make sure you’re getting charged the same cover as your white friends. Then again, if you’re going to these bars with white people you barely count as black anyway. The crowd are like the audience at a Dave Matthews Band show, but freshly bathed, slightly more stoned, and ready to add new STDs to their sexual bucket lists. Douchebags roam these bars like AIDS roamed San Francisco area gay bars in 1980. At least AIDS doesn’t call the girls in the room “the talent” and I imagine probably has a pretty sweet moustache.
Cahoots (Baxter Ave) – This is the type of place you want to visit late after you’re already drunk and half oblivious to what’s around you. If White Castle still sounds disgusting, you’re not drunk enough and you’ll feel generally uncomfortable. This is a normal reaction. The most entertaining part of this bar is seeing somebody in a Lacoste polo stumble down from O’Shea’s only to realize that they look out of place somewhere but still try to fit in by ordering a $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon. The regular crowd just seems confused that there are people in society that don’t have sleeved tattoos, get sunlight, and have jewelry-free faces.
The Outlook Inn (Baxter Ave) - Yes, that bleach smell is always there.
Jim Porters Good Time Emporium (Lexington Ave) – If you took the combined disappointment of every child in the world finding out that there is no Santa, sprinkle in the sadness of their puppies dying, bottle it up, and spread it through a room you’ll have the general vibe inside Jim Porter’s. There’s generally an older crowd, so if you’re under the age of 52 expect to be ID’ed at random times and more often than a Muslim at an airport. The crowd here looks like doctors handed syringes full of Botox to retarded chimpanzees and told them to go nuts on the most leathery looking women they could find.
Phoenix Hill Tavern (Baxter Ave) – Remember those dreams of being a rock star you had when you were 19? With the cover bands you’ll see, you’ll get to see plenty of men who just kept the dream alive well into their 40s. They have the attitude of rock stars, without any of the actual fame, money, or talent. The women in the bar? I’ll just say that 3 of the 4 worst karaoke renditions of “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” I’ve ever heard took place under this roof. This is ironic considering most of the male crowd looks like they were rejected from an Eminem look-a-like contest under the pretense of being “a little too chubby” and “Jesus Christ, we’re doing you a favor by rejecting you from an Eminem look-a-like contest. You’ll thank us later.”
I hope this guide serves as a point of caution for trying out the places you’ve never visited. Regardless of my experiences, I somehow still find my way back onto the Louisville bar scene weekend after weekend. Maybe it’s my reckless enthusiasm for never learning from my mistakes. Maybe I’m trying to milk every second of my twenties while I’m still young enough not to be “that guy” in the bar. Maybe it’s just knowing that mixing alcohol and interesting strangers always spells what everyone just really wants – to get drunk and have a good time.