We joined forces with Research Assistants Hilary and Rachel (a Northland resident herself), and while driving to the club, which is in the same strip mall as Pet Pals, a pet-grooming shop and a bowling-supply store, Hilary had an epiphany.
"Oh, my God!" she exclaimed. "Casey and I were driving here once and saw a license plate that said 'warlock!'"
There were no warlocks or witches at Groove, which used to be a pool hall and still had a sports-bar feel to it, thanks to the four pool tables in the back and a huge wooden bar area. But in lieu of Chiefs or Royals paraphernalia, the walls by the dance floor had neon-colored flowers and peace symbols on them, along with various Austin Powers sayings, such as "Far out" and "Groovy, baby."
"The décor is very eighth-grade dance, with the poster-board cutouts," observed Hilary. We later noticed that what looked like cutouts of the classic "male" and "female" symbols were actually painted on the wall -- and that the "male" symbol had a penis instead of an arrow protruding from the circle. Hilary rescinded her eighth-grade-décor comment.
We were also fascinated by the huge vending machine by the dance floor. It offered not only Chee-tos and Cracker Jacks but also two different types of beef jerky, cigarettes, tobacco and a disposable camera, along with Altoids and mint strips (very convenient if you plan to wake up in a strange bed the next morning, we surmised).
However, most impressive were Groove's drink prices. We ordered a rum and Coke, a White Russian and a Barenaked Lady (rum, a dash of triple sec, pineapple and orange juices and a splash of cranberry), then did a double take when the bartender announced, "It's $4 total." We soon realized that all drinks (except shots) are $1 on Saturdays.
The drink prices also vastly impressed three guys who were standing near the bar, reported Hilary when she went to get another round. "They said about eight times, 'We can definitely buy drinks for girls tonight!' Then they asked, 'Should we buy them shots now, or should we wait and ask first?' I told them they should ask first."
We wandered around with our drinks and ended up dancing with a guy named Will. ("Hey, I'll dance with the three of you!") Alas, our moment with Will was cut short when we were kicked off the dance floor for ignoring the "no drinks on dance floor" signs. We later realized that this rule could be used to our advantage: When a skeezy guy approached and asked to dance, we could regretfully tap our cup and decline. It was a great out.
Banished from the dance floor, we observed the crowd. As the dance floor got more crowded, we noticed the dancing got more risqué, with much grindage, sandwiching and leg-lifting. "People are probably looking at us and thinking, Those poor girls. They don't have anyone to grind with," Rachel said.
The most amazing display of dancing came from a couple who were simulating the crotch-in-face move, taking turns sitting on the floor. Next time we glanced over, he was leaning back on his hands so far that he was practically on the ground, and she was hovering over him on all fours in 69 position. "That's not right," commented the guy standing next to us.
We later talked to the dancers, Eric (one of the DJs at Groove) and Shelly, who were disarmingly sweet and sincere. They had moved from a small town in Texas. In their broad twangs, they told us they loved Kansas City. We asked Eric about the dancing, and he replied, somewhat shyly, "Yeah, she gets freaky out there."
As exciting as our Saturday night was, owner Scottie Merrifield said the place is even more packed on Fridays, when ladies drink free Miller cans, wells and frozen strawberry daiquiris. After that revelation, our night was made complete when a random guy bought roses for us and another guy immediately came over and accused us of buying them for ourselves. Our accuser grilled Rachel on where she was from and why we were there.
"Welcome to the cult," she told us in the car as we drove home. "If you grew up here, you stay here," she added, explaining how we stood out as non-Northlanders, our obvious notetaking notwithstanding. Perhaps we should have said we were warlocks.