Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Reporter's Notebook: How to Handle P&L

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 5:59 PM

BY CRYSTAL K. WIEBE

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Thinking back on my recent Saturday night in the Power & Light District for this story, I can only imagine some people’s reaction to the notion of an elitist, hipster Pitch writer spending time in the big, new, cheesy downtown entertainment district. To be honest, this is not the situation I usually enjoy getting into on a night out: masses of people waiting in endless lines to get into bars that charge a cover (even though there’s not an original band playing) and have relatively steep prices for drinks.

But I was determined to have a good time in the P&L. And I did. And I will do it again, possibly tonight.

Here’s what I won’t do: Visit more than two bars.

Although a bar crawl is tempting with so many watering holes in close proximity, with its long lines, the P&L is a little bit like Worlds of Fun. You can waste upwards of an hour trying to get into a hoppin’ place. If your whole plan is to go to another bar after you’ve checked out the first one, you’re facing a lot more wasted time. Well, that’s not necessarily true – because you can take your drinks out of the bar and buy more from roving servers, your time in line may actually be spent getting wasted. Technically, I suppose, you could dance in line, too, considering the volume at which music gets blasted from the Living Room. Still, having waited in a lot of lines, I now recommend picking a bar and staying there most of the night. It’s less stressful.

My recommendation: PBR Big Sky Bar. It’s not a true country bar – like the rest of the P&L bars, the vibe does feel manufactured. But Big Sky was the most entertaining. You can’t go wrong with a place that offers free mechanical bull rides. And as the guys I was hanging with would attest, the chicks in the chaps and short shorts who work there are the hottest in the District.

Another cool aspect of the P&L: the stocked bathrooms. The partier in a pinch can find a plethora of complimentary health and beauty products in the ladies room of pretty much every bar. A young woman folding towels in the corner of the Mosaic restroom eyed me suspiciously as I pilfered through the goods -- tampons, hair ties, mints, hair spray and perfume. (Given the freeflow of alcohol and the signs all over the District urging people to leave their inhibitions in the mini-van, the absence of condoms was glaring.) If you indulge, remember to tip your friendly bathroom attendant. One that I talked to inside Angels Rock Bar was ecstatic at having netted about $60 by 11:40 p.m. That didn’t seem like much when I thought about what she might be subjected to in that tiny room where intoxicated women come to primp, pee and puke.

Over the course of the night, I did encounter a few d-bags -- like the guy who wanted to let me cut in line if I lifted my dress. But overall, most people were just out having a good time. Many of them reminded me of my parents – middle-aged empty nesters who used to go to the Plaza and felt too old for (or threatened by) Westport. Young or old, nearly everyone I talked to was from the suburbs or beyond – Topeka, Springfield, St. Louis. That makes shiny, new P&L something of a tourist attraction – kinda like Navy Pier in Chicago or Broadway Avenue in Nashville. And maybe that’s OK. Maybe it will be good for our city. But its touristy appeal is clearly why some people still prefer the grittiness of Westport.

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