What do you have to do to get kicked out of an Irish pub? Apparently, not drink. This is my first bar lesson of fall quarter when I am shivering on the street contemplating what bar I will spend my evening in, when I should be sharpening pencils.
Assigned to cover the nightlife of a Bellingham bar of my choice, I had coerced a few friends to come with me to Uisce's, the Irish pub at 1319 Commercial St., for their famous Tuesday trivia night. Sadly there isn't a seat left and when we don't buy drinks immediately, we are told (not so kindly) to leave.
The group decides on going to The Fairhaven instead. Located at 1114 Harris Ave., The Fairhaven is off the beaten path of downtown bars. The dimly lit interior of leopard print and black leather booths inspires me to document my night's experience like a researcher in the wild—do not interfere and do not interact. (This becomes an increasingly difficult motto to live by as the night goes on.) I had hoped that my study would answer questions pondered for centuries: how long does it take for people to go from idling on the dance floor to uncontrollably gyrating? Or, when does the first stumble after excessive drinking occur?
Split into small round tables and a row of booths against a mirrored wall, The Fairhaven feels a little more “adult” than other bars in town. But tonight—and every Tuesday night—is a different story because it is College Night at The Fairhaven. On College Night the drink specials include pitchers at $5.25 and $6.25 for microbrews. The martini list ranges in price from $5.75 to $8.50. The more expensive martinis are made with top shelf liquor.
Easily persuaded by colorful pictures, I decide to order a lemon drop martini off the vibrant martini menu. I am feeling pretty swanky and hip when I realize there is absolutely nothing glamorous about having a pen and paper at a bar and staring at people like a creeper.
As my friends deliberate about what beer they will order, I furiously take notes on the bar's ambience, smell, sound and anything that seems noteworthy. There isn't much to document since the bar is still almost completely empty—granted, it is only 9 p.m. One of the first things about The Fairhaven I notice is the questionable choice of music moving from “classics” by Sinead O` Connor and Cyndi Lauper to Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, as the younger crowd filters in.
9:14 p.m. The steady stream of college students, which began only minutes before, shows no sign of stopping and the bar is officially crowded. A friend voices her irritation at the lack of complementary pretzels or popcorn.
My first misadventure of the night comes when I try to locate the bathroom. Anyone who has been to The Fairhaven will agree that maps should be provided at the door. Not only are the bathrooms ridiculously hard to find, but there is a hall of various unmarked doors that trick you into thinking you might have found them. Like a contestant in a game show I hope the door I open next will lead to the bathroom. Door number one: broom closet… door number two: empty keg room.
When I finally locate the bathroom, which is completely across the bar from where I was searching, I am faced with a dilemma. I spot a boy in the girl's bathroom. Seeing such a blatant disregard for social constructs motivates me to inform the boy that, in fact, he is not a girl. This seems like quite the important issue at the time. He acknowledges this but claimed he was assisting a friend who spilled beer on her pants. I am suspicious of this alibi. Apparently after a few drinks I have turned into the bathroom police.
9:42 p.m. As I wait at the bar to order a drink I feel my airway slowly constrict as the smell of excessive cologne wafts from the individuals surrounding me on both sides.
9:51 p.m. This is the point where rather than performing my journalistic duties I start writing ludicrous and unimportant observations that are largely egged on by my friend's laughter. One such observation reads, “I love lamp.” The field-journal that had started with such good intentions has turned into a doodle pad.
9:57 p.m. The dance floor that was empty when I arrived remains empty apart from the few stragglers who, no doubt, hope their sporadic dancing will encourage others to participate. Sadly, it seems to have the opposite effect.
10:17 p.m. Officially, the bar is over packed with college kids who hope to delay the reality of their classes. By this time I have failed completely as an undercover reporter telling anyone and everyone who will listen.
11:48 p.m. The night ends with me contently stuffing my face with Russian dumplings.
Reviewing my notes the next morning with a massive headache, I am pleased to see my research was a success. Having made it a personal goal to record the first sign of a stumble, it is noted that by 10:57 p.m. there were stumbles all over. How long does it take for people to go from idling on the dance floor to uncontrollably gyrating? Apparently it takes 34 minutes: from 10:14 p.m.-10:48 p.m.