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Some in this crowd can probably remember when the mashed potato was popular. But not 24-year-olds Becca Haggerty of Olathe and Bailey Alexander of Topeka. They dance together seductively behind the main seating area. "Wanna dance with us?" Haggerty asks, brunette strands falling in her face.
Crammed against the back bar is 31-year-old bachelorette Angela Howard. She reluctantly wears a homemade veil with plastic shot glasses attached to either side. "I used to be a Westportgoer by nature," her friend Kim Wrigley says. "This is the new thing."
Back onstage, someone pays $24 for an employee to scribble a message on the mirror behind the band. The bar calls it the "high rollers" message board, where patrons can outbid one another to put something up. This time, the message reads: "We don't discriminate against anyone.... You're all bitches, sluts and whores!"
Later, as the whole bar sings along to "Friends in Low Places," Howard gives herself a $4 shot. It's administered with an oversized plastic syringe that shoots whipped cream and blue gelatin into her mouth. She finishes, wipes her face and turns to one of her girls. "OK, I took the shot," she says petulantly. "I'm taking off the veil now."
At about the same time, the house band winds up the Garth Brooks classic with a howled Yahoo!
Westport 9:54 p.m.
At Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar, there's a whole lot of entertainment going on for the $3 cover. The large bar space is packed. Old Style is on special for $2. The guys at the two baby grands play crowd favorites, including "Goin' to the Chapel" for the bachelorettes. During "Livin' on a Prayer," they stop playing, and the entire bar keeps going with heartfelt wails of Oooo-oooh, we're halfway there.
During the show, a guy drunkenly weaves his way through the long rows of tables. He wears a vest made of AstroTurf and a matching hat. A circular weight is attached to his ankle by a chain. He holds a yard glass with some remnants of beer in its bulb. Mr. AstroTurf — Alex Awad, a 22-year-old bartender at the Carriage Club — is celebrating his bachelor party. With him are friends Andy Holt and Kevin Compton.
Awad said his friends attached the circular weight to his ankle with a chain and a lock. Then they dropped the key into the yard glass, which holds a gallon of beer. It took Awad an hour and a half to empty the tube.
I ask them why Ernie Biggs appealed to them for a bachelor party. "Dueling pianos are hilarious," Holt says. "They were really good about including us, letting us do goofy shit, getting us onstage."
"I had been here one time before and enjoyed myself and wanted to come back," Awad replies.
"Is this a fucking commercial? What the fuck?" Compton asks his friends.
Before we leave, a bartender takes a swig of alcohol, lights a match and blows out an impressive stream of fire as the piano guys belt out — what else? — "Great Balls of Fire."
Power & Light 10:06 p.m.
After we've spent 20 minutes in line, Mosaic turns out to be pretty dead inside. A few people in trendy clothes mill about, mostly sticking to the outdoor patio. I drink a $9 vodka with Monster while a DJ plays nondescript electronic music.