Saturday, January 1, 2011

December = End of the Year in New York

This is the last blog of 2010; we completed our New Year’s Resolution and are looking for a new one! For the final blog we went to the Shrine Bar in Harlem, New York City to ring in the New Year. We had been told it would be a good idea to get to the bar early, and me not being a true New Yorker quite yet took that literally. We got to the place a little after 9pm. It was very sparsely populated and we paid a $10 cover which was less than the website had advertised…. Early bird special? We got our first drink of the evening, a very strong Mount Gay and coke in a tiny glass. The drinks were very expensive, with an extra $1 inflation on the weekends. We sat at a table near the front where the DJ was dancing and mixing his music enthusiastically. He was playing dancehall music and other upbeat music from a French colonized country, perhaps the Ivory Coast. He had a great air horn and “bullet bullet” effect that made you jump every time. We ordered a delicious mango mojito and more people began filtering in.

Street View of the Shrine

The DJ had a special friend that we think was a gigolo because he was trying to get all the ladies to dance and he would say stuff over the mic such as, “If you need a good fix give me a call.” He tried to get Rachel and me to dance but we didn’t want to be “those girls”. During the 11 o’clock hour things stated getting a bit livelier. At one point a man ran through the bar and locked himself in the bathroom. Soon after 2 policeman came in and banged on the bathroom door and tried to get him out. He didn’t come out. The two policemen returned with 3 more of their co-workers and the bar tender who spoke to the lock-in man through the door in his language. Finally the man came out and the police took him away. This was all puzzling because the man didn’t seem to have been a patron before the incident.

Stage area where the DJ and TV screen were set up

The crowd got excited as the ball dropped, which was projected onto a large screen behind the DJ who continued to play bumpin' music. After the New Year was called everyone began dancing. Rachel and I sat and stared until a gentleman asked Rachel to dance. He was from Nigeria and was very sweaty and touchy. I danced by myself until I was led to the middle of the now-crowded dance floor. I danced with a Senegalese gentleman for a bit before I decided I needed to reunite with Rachel. I then went to the bathroom and Rachel started dancing with the Senegalese man. Then we were almost going to leave because we needed a breather from the male attention which was getting a bit overwhelming. But the music was great so we decided to get one last drink and stand near the front of the bar where it was less crowded.

However, we met even more friends who were a bit more low-key. One gentleman was from the Ivory Coast and was with his friend from Burkina Faso. Originally the gentleman introduced themselves by saying they were from “Africa” which we all know is a continent not a country so Rachel asked them to specify by country. Another of their friends walked by and he was introduced as being from Mali. The man from the Ivory Coast did not drink alcohol so he was sipping a ginger beer and they tried hard to get our numbers for their “contact lists” but we were able to divert the conversation towards different subjects. Finally after our last drink we decided it was time to go home. Overall the Shrine was a great place to ring in the New Year with a good DJ and delicious drinks, even though they were quite pricey.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December = Need For a Neubulizer

It has been another skipped blog month but this one should make up for it especially because we had a blogging guest along, Joanna. We decided to do a bar crawl of the downtown Copley area. We hopped on the train and were immediately joined by a very drunk gentleman friend. He sat right next to Joanna and we soon thought she would have him on her lap. Then he offered her a swig of his vodka, which she politely declined. I guess we were being boring because he began giving each of us a nickname. I was the “real deal”, Rachel was the “bad girl” and Joanna was the sexy Liberian (librarian?). We transferred trains and were then join by a not as charming group of Boston Bruins fans.

Jen, Joanna, Rachel ready to bar crawl!

We finally arrived at out first stop, the Charlesmark Hotel. This place seemed right off the bat to be a flop. The bouncer was the cutest guy in the bar so Joanna tried to flirt with him by asking where the bathroom was even though it was pretty obvious.. We sat around for 45 minutes nursing one drink while men swirled around us with their heads in their phones. Maybe they were checking their eHarmony profiles when all they needed to do was look around and see the ladies at the bar. We decided to move on to the next spot and as we were putting our coats on two different gentlemen who had been sitting at the bar looked very disappointed even though they had plenty of opportunity to engage. Joanna struck up a conversation with a man who claimed to not be from the Boston area and said he was culture shocked by all the people and the fact that you had to pay to park. I was talking to a nice older gentleman who was a private school recruiter. After engaging for a few minutes we really decided to move on. The drinks at this place were quite over-priced for the fact that the watered-down coke disguised the flavor of the Mount Gay rum.

Moving on we went to a place called Vox, which was open for the last night before being remodeled. So for all we know it could be named something different at this point. Right at the door Joanna was already picking up guys with her sexy librarian act. We got upstairs to the upper level in the place and the male-to-female ratio was definitely in our favor. The bar seemed to be running low so the only rum drink available was Goslings and coke (no ginger beer to be had). We settled with our drinks and immediately struck up conversations with the guys around us. Joanna was speaking to CJ who left to look for his friend and then quickly transitioned to Ian the vegan hipster. They carried on quite the long conversation. Meanwhile I was talking to a Canadian gentleman named Jack who was getting a bit boring and a bit possessive. Rachel was bouncing between the two conversations but whenever I tried to turn to talk to her Jack would butt in to try to redirect the conversation back to him. Rachel played an excellent wing-woman and said we needed to leave. I think Jack wanted to join but we declined and made a beeline for the exit.

It was Vox and soon it will be...?

However, Joanna was still wrapped up in the company of CJ and Ian. SO after using the bathroom we had to go back to fetch her. This time we ran into a male hairdresser who was also friends with CJ and Ian. He rubbed Rachel the wrong way when he said she should use a flatiron because her hair was frizzy (although she was still a beautiful girl). He then tried to assess my hair saying that the last time I had it done was two months ago (he was WAAAAY off so his skills are in question). At this point Joanna came into the conversation and began claiming she had asthma and had to pack a suitcase for her nebulizer when she came to New York City to visit me. The hairdresser was very empathetic and I could barley keep a straight face. On the 2nd attempt to leave Rachel was stopped by Drew who said he had wanted to talk to her all night and she was very pretty. So as we left Vox we had the men literally dripping off of us. Good place to go to meet new people, Joanna left with two numbers.

We decided to get our last drink of the night at Cactus Club, which turned out to be a very low-key spot for the last drink. It was almost empty and after they switched the channel from choir-y Christmas tunes to rock the vibe was better. And they had Pusser’s rum! The bartender was amused that we were so excited about it. But it was probably the best and strongest drink we had all evening. We chatted with the bartender and then went on our way as the lights came up at 2am for last call. Overall the Copley bar crawl was a success as the first place was a chill spot to start off the evening the second place had a lot of interaction, and the third place was a good spot to wind down. It will be interesting to see what Vox turns into after it is remodeled.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October = Just Across the Street

EEEK! No blog in two months! This is due to the fact that I have moved to New York and Rachel is still in Boston. But this is the first time I have returned to visit Boston since I left in August and thus the first time for another blog entry!

Tonight started out as any blog night does. We put on our cute dresses, bemoaned how the weather is getting cold, and we had to wear jackets. We shivered at the T station and ended up in the Back Bay area. The place we wanted to go, Clery’s, had a long line so we decided to go around the corner to another spot that had been recommended, Coda’s. It was a typically Boston bar; upscale, exposed brick walls, dark lighting, mid-20s crowd, etc. The only seats were at a small table near the bar so we got a drink and sat there. No one spoke to us or even looked in our direction, not even the waitress. That being a bust we decided to go back to Clery’s and wait in the line!

Back together after a break in the blog!

This was a first for both of us because neither of us have actually waited in a line to get into a bar. There really was nothing special about the bar so we didn’t understand why there needed to be a line. But we enjoyed watching the bouncer interact with the customers and listening to people drop names of staff members they knew who worked there so they could cut the line. My favorite interaction was a totally white Boston guy, red hair, freckles, the whole bit, telling the African American bouncer that his “homie” worked there. While we were in line we were between 2 groups of all males. However, still no talking or interaction.

After not too much time or drama we got into he bar. It is a really big space with a front bar area, a back bar area and another sitting room. The music selection was a good mix of dancehall, old school hip hop and newer hip hop (later we were amused at the very serious looking bouncer who’s job it was to select the music). The drinks were also well-priced at $6 for a Mount Gay rum and coke. And so with drinks in hand we began our laps of the place. We circled and circled like we were at a track meet. We stood close to different cute groups of guys, tried the 5 seconds of eye contact and smile that has been recommended. Nothing was working and time was TICKING DOWN! This could not be another boring blog entry with no action.

Then we were standing around watching a dance-off between a guy and a girl and one of the guy’s friends came over to talk to Rachel. We will call him Dan for the sake of the blog but we don’t think he ever really disclosed his name. Dan and Rachel talked for a bit and then Dan announced that he lived right across the street, was having a house party, and we should come. And so in light of the 5 drinks we had drank and in the name of the blog, we went.

It was actually not right across the street but up the street, around the corner, and up 5 flights of stairs. It seemed a little weird at some points but Dan was kind of dorky and harmless. We got to his apartment and the over-powering smell of bacon and pot wafted out. Just by standing in the kitchen we got 2nd hand high and became second-hand carnivorous. It reminded me of college parties, wayyyyy back in the day. They even had an ice luge for doing shots. Luckily Dan had some Mount Gay rum and so we were on to the next round. All of Dan’s friends were giving him high-fives and patting him on the back for bringing not one but two girls home from the bar. Dan thought he was getting some. Rachel and I laughed because we both knew he was not. So Dan gave us a tour of the apartment and showed us his room. He asked if we wanted to go in his room and play cards. I don’t know what that was actually supposed to mean but we declined. We talked, Dan was very drunk, we were surprisingly sober. We went back into the living room where all of his male friends were and started a dance party using the Pandora feature on the TV. One of his friends said that we were "beautiful" which was an ego booster! Everyone was dancing and it was fun until Rachel went to the bathroom Dan decided he was going to dance with me, which was fine until he was grinding on me and he seemed a bit excited. It was just a bit creepy that Dan was going after both of us, or really whoever would ultimately sleep with him. Then a guy came out in the living room in only his boxers and we decided it was time to go. We made an abrupt, quick and probably awkward getaway. On the way out Rachel told Dan, “You really should interview someone before you bring them home from the bar.”

The apartment.... "just across the street"

At this point it was around 2:30am. We were picked up by a really nice Jamaican cab driver who knew exactly how to get us home without needing directions. He also told us about all of the businesses that had existed in Dorchester many years ago. So the night ended on a nice note.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July = Dirty Jersey Part 2

Part 2 of Dirty Jersey begins back in Ocean City on Saturday, July 3rd. Allison’s friend Andrew had been chattily texting her all morning and then came to find her on the beach. Rachel and I acted as chaperons while Andrew and Allison conversated by the surf (see picture). As part of the conversation Andrew invited Allison and by default, Rachel and I to Atlantic City on Saturday evening to experience the casinos. We were hoping we could get a ride with Andrew and company but even after hinting subtly, there was no offer. So we took our own car to Atlantic City and Allison told Andrew to find us in the casino…. Well needless to say, that never happened.

So Sunday, July 4th came along and we went out to the beach in Ocean City to watch the fireworks. Afterwards we were invited to one of the frat brother’s parents’ house. Luckily we did not have to meet any parents during this adventure, but we did get to meet even more frat brothers. There was a Teach for America frat brother and another accountant frat brother. We had some more good conversations on the roof-top deck of the parents’ house. And then Ryan from Friday night called because he was on his way back to Ocean City from the ice cream shop. So we took two cars to a bar in Somers Point, NY called the Anchorage Tavern, and this time we got a ride. Ryan drove one car with us girls and Ryan and another frat brother drove another car of guys. Rachel interrogated Ryan on the flavors and mixes of ice cram at his shop and we giggled when he talked to his car radio to play songs.

Anchorage Bar: A Classy Location

We got to the bar and drank many more rum drinks which means that the rum count for the night was pretty high since we had began at happy hour time. At some point in the night I began talking to Ryan about politics and many other things so we kind of paired off. We left the bar at closing time and one car of boys went to the local diner. Our car decided we did not want diner food and I guess I suggested that we go to the beach. Everyone was feeling a little adventurous because there is a curfew on Ocean City beaches but we decided to drive down to the end (where is was said not to be enforced) and risk it anyways. So on the beach Allison and Andrew paired off, Ryan and I paired off and Rachel paired off with the neat sheet we had brought to sit on for the fireworks. (A neat sheet is a blanket intended to repel sand and water.) Everyone was enjoying their beach time until Rachel noticed a creepy looking man pacing behind her who was wearing gym shorts and a hooded sweat shirt with the hood up. Rachel was worried about her well-being but after a few minutes hoodie guy returned with a uniformed officer who asked her to leave the beach. She did so. Then the police went to Allison and Andrew, who subsequently ran away. Then the police came to shine a flash light in Ryan and my faces. We were asked to leave the beach as well.

Once we exited the beach we witnessed Allison, Andrew, and Rachel sitting on the curb. Allison and Andrew were being lectured on how it was bad to run away from the police and were being accused of drinking alcohol from one red solo cup (remember Ocean City is a dry town so even if you are of age this is quite an offense). We really hadn’t had a drop of alcohol since leaving the bar and Allison was only carrying a clutch so we wondering where the police might have thought this alcohol and cup situation was procured from. The real clincher came when the police asked us for our IDs and then verified by asking us orally what our ages were. This is how it went: Allison, “21”, Andrew, “23”, Ryan, “22”…… Rachel, “25”, Jennifer. “25”. At that point I think the officers realized that Rachel and I were actually professionals with real jobs and maybe they were amused so we were let off without a ticket or a fine or anything. And so we were driven back to our hotel at 4:30am with everyone feeling like 18 year olds again… especially us old ladies.

The very last event of this blog was as Rachel and I drove out of town of Monday, July 5th we stopped by Ryan’s ice cream shop to sample all of the different kinds of fruity water ices. The mango was our favorite! With that Rachel snapped a picture and we were on our way back to Boston and back to being old maids.

World Famous Wooder Ice

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July = Dirty Jersey Part 1

So here comes the Jersey Shore blog in two installments because it was THAT good. I think this blog may have to change its mission from exploring venues in Boston to exploring venues around the country that are in beach towns because that is way more exciting. Rachel and I went down to the Jersey Shore for 4th of July weekend and picked up my sister on the wa
y. We found a great place to stay in Ocean City, the only problem being, Ocean City is a dry town. So on our first night at the shore we decided to go out in Sea Isle City which is just one town away but serves adult beverages. We dressed up in our best “scraps of cotton” otherwise known to most people as short sun dresses. When we got to Sea Isle though we were worried that we were over-dressed so we drove around for a bit scouting out the scene. We did see girls in all ranges of outfits so we felt confident enough to find a parking spot. The street signs said we had to pay the meter until 11pm which left 30 minutes but we only had dimes. We ended up parking right in front of a store front apartment with a whole bunch of guys out on the steps. I got out to investigate the meter and was immediately chatted-up and offered quarters. I did end up needing two from the guys because I put the first quarter in the wrong meter as I was flustered by all of the attention. This seemed to be a good omen though as in Boston I have had to run around the city searching for an ATM and then a corner store in order to get change. Here in Sea Isle City it was being offered to me without me even having to ask!

With full confidence now in tow we walked to the venue for the evening called La Costa. Allison and I got past the bouncers with our Michigan IDs with no problem. Rachel on the other hand was interrogated, had her ID checked in “the book” and had to sign a paper saying if she had falsified her age she would have to go to jail, rehab, AA, and church for the rest of her life. Apparently Washington State is a foreign country to those Jersey Shore folks. Once inside the venue I was transported back to college. My shoes stuck to the floor, there was a grungy, LOUD cover band, and bad beer for cheap. In keeping with dirty jersey style the venue was a bar connected to a liquor store, and a hotel, all-in-one. If you were inside the bar you could see through the grate into the liquor store. If you were in the outside area of the bar you were actually in a court-yard of the hotel so there were literally tables right outside some people’s hotel rooms. We made a circle of the outside of the bar and then decided to sit at a plastic table. Well we must have caught some people’s eye because almost immediately two guys came over and asked if they could sit with us. One was 23 year old Andrew the medical student and the other was 22 year old Ryan the ice cream shop owner.

It looks like just a regular hotel from the outside but....

Outside "Deck Bar" at La Costa
(note the hotel room balcony)

Needless to say we had lots of interesting conversations about Andrews gynecological rotation and how Ryan came to own his own ice cream shop at the age of 22. Allison was the pick of the litter this time and began engaging with Andrew. They eventually swapped phone numbers (this info is relevant to part 2 of the blog). Rachel and I spoke with Ryan as our “mutual friend”. Ryan seemed to have a good sense of humor and joked with us about all of the Guidos walking by (they really did look straight out of Jersey Shore!). Eventually Ryan and Andrew called over their two other friends one who was an accountant and one who was a nurse. All four gentleman had gone to “The College of New Jersey” (I had never heard of it before) and were fraternity brothers. So we had more conversation with all of the friends. It was a fun night and fun to have good conversation with guys who weren’t to shy to just come over and sit down. We parted ways not thinking too much of the whole evening BUT there was more to come….

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June = Outside Bars

It is already June and the weather is finally getting better so for this month we decided to check out some outdoor bars near the harbor/waterfront area of Boston. Our first stop was the Landing which is right by the aquarium and on a dock (kind of). It is a completely outdoor bar with tables to sit at and space around the bar. They were playing country music which was fun and different and it was just a really nice place to be in Boston. You could people-watch and enjoy the ocean breeze. There were actually a lot of men at this bar and Rachel and I tried to strategically place ourselves in opportune spots and make eye contact. Unfortunately no conversations were struck up but I would go back to this place for sure because the atmosphere was great.


Next we decided to hit up Tia’s which is right in the same area. It has kind of a beach club vibe because the inside building is all opened up and feeds into a back patio and a side with tables for sitting. Tia’s was bumping when we got there, lots of different types of people of various ages and such. Again we got a drink and then actively circulated around the bar trying to find a single-looking group of men. During our circulation we found a sign that proclaimed Tia’s to have the best summer singles scene…. hmmmm. After all of our circulating we decided to rest at the corner of a bar. After a few minutes we were approached by a nice gentleman in the 40s age range named Danny. Danny was originally from Lebanon so we chatted about our different schooling experiences and education in America. It was a very pleasant conversation and things were looking good when Danny said he was at Tia’s for a bachelor party! However he then explained that all the guys at the bachelor party were already married and were showing each other pictures of their kids on their iphones. I think it is interesting that the only guy to approach us was a few decades out of our age bracket. We parted ways, did a little more circulating, and then headed to one of our favorite spots in the area, Rumba.

On the way to Rumba we ran into yet ANOTHER bachelor party (I guess we really are in wedding season!). These gentlemen were hanging around outside of a limousine and called at us. At this point in the night we were 4 rum drinks deep so we stopped to talk. They were very native Rhode Islanders with accents to match and they said they were going to Providence. They asked where we were headed, saying they wanted to join in with us. We told them we were going to Rumba and bantered for a bit more. I think we expressed interest in going to Providence and so I was disappointed that we were not invited into the limo. So we trekked on and reached Rumba. Rumba was hopping, with a lot of people around. We got the official Rum Connoisseurs books and picked out two rums we had not tried before; one from Brazil and one from Grenada. We picked a few free seats in a conversational grouping that was already partially occupied. At this point I was feeling all the rum and this balding middle-aged business man tried to impress us by saying that his friend was an heir of the Chef-Boyardee Corporation. But then when I mentioned spaghetti-os he seemed to get offend. It was much too confusing so we focused on tasting our rums. The one from Grenada was delicious but the Brazilian one was so strange. It seemed ok at the beginning but then had a very strange barbecue/wood smoke after-taste. Rachel downed the rest of the Brazilian rum so she was done for the night. And after this being the 2nd gross Brazilian rum we had, we will no longer be experimenting with rum form this country.

All-in-all it was a lovely outdoor evening in downtown Boston and I would definitely go back to any of the bars we visited this summer. In fact happy-hour could be an even better time to meet other people. Sadly the night was not so good for interacting with males. Short of wearing a bikini on our next adventure and throwing ourselves in men’s laps, I don’t know what we could do to make contact with some of the people in these venues. But, we go forward, and next month look for an out-of-town blog from the Jersey Shore!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May = Sports Bar Madness

We are in Boston and it is the NBA playoff which means you can easily be sucked into watching games just so you can say you’re following it and because you think that Rajon Rondo is cute. So for this month’s blog Rachel and I decided to try a sports bar near the Boston Garden so we could watch the game and try a new genre of going-out locations. We choose the Sports Grille Boston which is spitting distance to the Garden and was advertised to have TVs on every surface of the bar. Now Rachel and I were a little hesitant to go on this adventure because as much as I enjoy watching the Celtics, Boston sports fans can be a bit aggressive and I may even go as far as to say obnoxious.

Relaxing in the back yard before the big night out

Case in point as we were riding the T to our location we were on the same car as a group of young men who were pre-gaming with water bottles full of Vodka chased by their choice of OJ or red gatorade. They were loudly and excitedly talking about what they hoped would happen during the game like a little kid talks about what they hope they will get on Christmas morning. Then a guy wearing an L.A. Lakers jersey boarded the train. The group of young men told him to take it off and proceeded to grill the guy on how much better Boston is. Luckily the other guy handled it well and kept is cool but Rachel and I were nervous about the rest of our evening. We arrived safely at the venue and true to the Yelp review there were TVs all over the place. There were TVs circling the inside and outside of the bar, TVs at each booth and all over the walls. So we were able to get a good angle on the game. We ordered a pitcher of beer which seemed like the most economical way to go as beers came out to about $4 each and it was good beer. They also had Bud-light beer buckets which seemed a little weird because there were only 4 beers in a bucket and it still cost over $14. We got there a bit before the game started so we were able to pick our location at the bar but it was good we got there early because it did fill up quickly.

Sports Grille Boston
Yup, there is no mistaking this is a sports bar...

On Rachel’s side we had a gentleman that I called “Hostel Guy” because he was by himself at the bar, carrying around a backpack and looked like the type to stay in Boston’s only hostel. He stared at Rachel a lot but only talked to her to ask her to keep an eye on his back-pack while he went to the bathroom. On my side there was a big group of bro-ish kind of guys. The kind who wear sports jerseys and their ball caps backwards and they look like they only work out the top parts of their bodies because they have huge arms but not much of anything else. They were drinking lots of Bud-Light beer buckets and shots. As the night went on they got louder and louder. Towards the end of the evening they were trying to get one of their friends to talk to us but they were not being very subtle about it, in fact they were yelling right in my ear about it. I pointed out to one man that he was yelling right in my ear. Then a few minutes later I heard the gentleman saying that I “hated them”. So I turned around and apologized. That got a conversation going which included talking about our jobs and their lack of employment. One guy asked if I dated my students and another guy kept asking me if I thought his friend was cute. Unfortunately I didn’t think he was cute and in order to deflect the comments I turned to Rachel to repeat their question. So the guys said, “What is she, your life-coach or something?” Little did they know… Rachel is close to being my life coach.

The game ended soon after our banter with the bros and so we decided to leave. (BTW the Celtics blew the Magic out of the water, so there was lots of clapping and screaming.) As we left we became part of the huge mass of people leaving the Garden so it kind of felt like we really had been at the game! Overall I would say that the Sports Grille Boston did its job well by giving us a great place to view the game on many TVs, well-priced beer, and plenty of bros to interact with. I would go back to watch a sports game but not to pick up guys!

Oh and this is what happens when you try to take a picture using the self-timer feature on the camera…. Jen gets a little too excited and looses coordination.