Everyone has that one spot that they frequent with their friends. The go-to spot when “where you wanna go tonight?” is asked. Spots change with time for various reasons; places close, people move, interests change. My time in NYC has made for some pretty memorable stomping grounds. When we were in college and living in the dorms, our meal plan included various restaurants around the city and of them was PKs. PKs was your typical New York City diner and a huge contributor to my freshman weight gain. My roommate Heatha B and I would consistently order a side of pickles and by the end of the school year, the mildly pervy manager would send them before we asked. On Friday nights we’d go there, our idea of “going out” at the time and since it was the weekend we’d splurge and order chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. By our sophomore year we toned down our diner dinners. By junior year we moved uptown and PK’s become a thing of the past. On our 10 year mark of residing in Manhattan I had wanted to plan for us to revisit good ol PKs but was saddened to learn they are closed.
Other innocent pre-drinking age spots included Star Dust Diner in Times Square where the wait staff sings showtunes while you eat and DTUT where we ordered s’mores and sat on big velvet lounge chairs thinking we were cool.
When we turned 21 our spots changed. For a short time we would frequent the Big Easy, also known as the Big Sleazy. It got the nickname probably due the overpowering smell of spilled beer and piss, beer pong tables and scandalously dressed shot girls. Always way over crowded but always a good time. Big Sleazy has also since closed their doors but only because the building is cracked and leaning. I’m sure if it were still open I’d probably avoid it now, using my “I’m too old for that shit” line. I’m not boujee nor am I implying that I’ve matured at all but I do prefer my bars to smell a little less like piss now.
The summer after our junior year I began bartending and our new hot spot became Tequila Jacks where I worked because we drank margaritas for free. Soon after that we could be found a minimum of three nights a week at Aces and Eights, another story for another time but I worked there as well.
Lots of great memories in all of those places but THE spot, the one that inspired the topic of this blog is Opal. Opal was located on 52 and 2nd and was a slight step up from our past spots. No beer and piss smell but consistently over crowded. Chris Stanley, a fellow firefighter of Tom and also known as Stan the Man bartended at Opal and man oh man did he hook us up. We paid pennies and drank all night. My girlfriends and I would always dress up as if we were going to some fancy cocktail party, wildly over the top for the vibe in Opal but we didn’t care one bit. We’d march right in, say hi to Stan, order our round of Vanilla Vodka and sprite with a splash of grenadine and hit the dance floor. We’d bounce from the dance floor to the bathroom downstairs where there was always a line and back to the bar where Stan would give us very sugary shots. But mostly we’d dance the whole night, making a game out of dodging the men who tried to rub up on us. No thanks sir, tonight is about us. We even came up with “don’t dance with me” dances; choreographed moves intended to be as unattractive as possible. Mine involved smelling and wafting my own arm pits.
A few years ago, Amy, Meghan and I headed out on the town with plans to dance the night away but struggled to find a good place that wasn’t a yucky club. We giggled and thought, for old times sake let’s go to Opal! When we arrived we were devastated to learn that it too had closed. We held hands, bowed heads and gave a moment of silence for our many nights bouncing around Opal. Visions of our youth flashing in our brains.
If you ask me now where the go to spot is I’d have to say the House, more commonly known as the Supply House. That is if I choose to be social of course. In truth, the hot spot is my couch. Instead of guys hoping to dance, it’s cats hoping to cuddle. Instead of vodka, it’s wine and instead of short dresses and high heels it’s long sweats with high waists.
As I think back, nothing really made any of those places special. What made them stand out, where the memories really came from, is the people who were there to help create them. Many times throughout my crazy fast paced New York life, I’ll pass one of these places that once were and let the nostalgia wash over me. Whatever PKs is now, whatever the Big Sleazy will become, I hope new memories are made. But mostly, I hope the people who make them appreciate them as much as I do mine.