Reinventing Friday Night
Friday night; the end of the work week and beginning of the weekend. It’s always full of promise and new opportunities, yet I always choose to hang out with the usual suspects at the same bars, talking about the same things, and drinking the same drinks. The only thing that changes is who’s bringing back the dice.
It’s easy to stick to a routine when you limit your options, but this past Friday reminded me how I love Milwaukee. I was about to get off work at 8:30. How the rest of the night was going to unfold seemed like slim pickings. All the usual suspects were busy with local wrestling shows (smirk), work and significant others (sigh). Luckily, to keep my Friday night from being a total bust, my very dear and near friend Chad was sitting at the end of the bar when I got off work. It took only a few words, and we established each other as partners in crime for the evening.
Walking out and into the sharp cold initially had me thinking that this was going to be another uneventful evening. In the car, Chad and I discussed what randomness we should get into, agreeing not to access our regular Friday night.
It proved redeeming. Stopping in Bay View at a place neither one of us had ever been to was first on our list. We don’t really venture to Bay View often, but it’s always worth it. Eclectic crowds, unrivaled atmospheres and good music. It’s nice to get lost in an unfamiliar crowd.
The bartender we’d stopped by to see ended up going home early that evening. We stuck around for a couple of cold High Lifes, Chad looking around nervously as we quickly sipped our beers. I was entranced by the awkwardly different and awesome movie that was on TV — The Heroic Trio. We gulped the last swallows and headed briskly down the sidewalk, no words exchanged. Damn, it was cold.
Waiting for the car to warm up a bit, we tried to come up with Plan B. I already was mulling over the idea of going back to the bar where I work, where I knew I would find comfort and mindless, repetitive conversations. Chad said he wanted to go to some club over near Water Street to see his friend’s band play. There were two things very wrong with his suggestion, and the judgments were already circling in my mind.
2.) Your friend’s band? Really? That rarely sounds promising.
Well, I stand here before you duly chastened. I had an absolutely amazing time with my friend at Trinity while watching The Bystanders jam out to the classics. You know, the songs that everyone likes and knows the words to — Mellencamp, Peter Gabriel, “Mustang Sally” … and well … if you don’t know what I am talking about … then … what are you doing here?
The staff at Trinity was polite and not even slightly slutty. People started dancing. The crowd was stomping their feet, clapping, shouting and singing along. It’s a place where age is not a factor. Here, 21-year-olds and 40-year-olds come together to rock out.
Chad and I sat at a glossy, wooden table close to the dance floor, a group of attractive cougars circling our table. According to her sash and tiara, one of these ladies was apparently the “Birthday Princess.” (Eye roll). They asked to put their purses and other assorted crap onto our table. We happily obliged. I couldn’t clear the smile off of my face because this room had such a liberating vibe. The cougars even bought us a round for renting out part of our space.
I kept smiling and Chad continued to glance at me from across the table. I could feel the bass rattling in my chest as I was “singing” along. That’s when he leaned his head closer and said, “It’s really great to see you this happy. It’s been awhile.” He was right. That band. That bar. That moment. It had brought me out of my weird funk of the normal “This is how I should spend my Friday night, and this is where I should spend it and who I should spend it with.”
Sure enough, everyone else was also attracted to the aura of this band, bar and moment. The crowd grew quickly. It was great, but got to be too much. Chad and I both gave each other the look that said “Let’s get the hell out of here look before one more drunken person elbows me in the back.”
Back in the cold night, we couldn’t decide what to do next. We talked about options for new adventures, but in the end we both decided to go back to our shells, as hermits inevitably do when it comes time for shelter. I dropped Chad off at a nearby bar to see a friend of his, and I went back to mine. Walking in, I felt slightly disheartened. I recognized some faces, and it wasn’t overly busy. I kept thinking about the show, the music and how I felt. Almost like a kiss that keeps you up all night thinking about it.
I went home shortly thereafter. I knew the night was not going to get any better than it already had been. In the car, I still had a smile on my face thinking about how nice it was to venture into uncharted territory. We kicked Friday night’s ass and had a blast doing it. Milwaukee continues to surprise me when I least expect it. My assumptions about Water Street and a friend’s band were absolutely wrong. I need to rejuvenate my preconceived notions of Milwaukee’s bar scene. Can’t wait to see what this Friday will unfold….
Laura Heller keeps the bar at My Office in downtown Milwaukee. In her off-hours, she is TCD’s calendar editor and a member of the group blog, Last Call.