It's easier to pick up there. Perhaps this can be attributed to Vacation Mode, which -- as everyone knows -- makes you do things you normally wouldn't do. Like go to two bars whose names should ordinarily repel you (i.e., Finn McCool's and Funk). And let someone dry-hump you on the dance floor. Aaand, of course, make out with two different guys at each cheesy bar while traveling companion Cat is getting lip action from a hot 24-year-old British guy (who looks 16).
Um ... well, scratch that last item; regular readers of this column know about our penchant for the make-outage.
So, after getting back to KC with stories that are guaranteed party icebreakers for years to come, we checked out one bar that's held special make-out memories for us: Balanca's, which, a few years ago, used to be the Pyro Room. We loved, loved, LUV-ed the Pyro Room, not only for its rockabilly skank but also because that's where we got one of our favorite pickup lines after a Pitch Music Awards show from the hot frontman of a nominated band.
Him, lounging near the back stairwell: "Hey. Wanna make out?"
NR (drunkenly and enthusiastically): "Sure!"
Alas, things have changed with time -- we rarely see that hot singer around town anymore -- and Balanca's is more of a loungey place that attracts all types. We had heard that a number of swingers flocked there, so naturally we wanted to talk to them. We summoned Research Assistant John and headed over on a recent Saturday night. The upstairs bar with the flame décor was quiet, and we spotted a couple eyeing us as we walked over to the bar and ordered a Stoli orange and 7-Up in a big glass. We drained two of those to get properly juiced before making the journey downstairs.
The downstairs level, which is still called the Pyro Room, contains the dance floor, and on that Saturday a packed house was enjoying the retro music. We hung out near the bar and assessed the scene.
"It's a big crowd," we noted.
"Yeah. Physically," RA John said.
"It's so suburban and mulleted and frightening," added Mick from the Bulldog, whom we ran into near the bar. "I would so be a swinger if they weren't so fucking nasty. Just seeing what they're doing -- the husband comes up and is a little too happy ... I'm not a prude, but it's just scary. It's so much better in the Penthouse letters column than in real life."
One thing we appreciated was that the music was kept to a volume at which we could actually hear people. And after meeting Bill, 41, we wanted to hear what he had to say. He was there with his girlfriend of two years. They met on AOL ("Missouri couples"), and he informed us that the Balanca's crowd that night was about 80 percent swingers.
"So what's a good pickup line to use here?" we asked. Appropriately, "Strokin'" started playing.
"Go up and introduce yourself. If you say, 'Hey, wanna fuck?' that tends to turn people off," he answered.
"How long have you been a swinger?"
"Oh, about 21 years," he said, explaining that when he went overseas for the military, his ex-wife got really into women.
"It's new and exciting, and it spices up your sex life. Swinging, to me, is a lifestyle. It can break or make a relationship. It can't save a relationship -- all it does is make things worse. You have to have a strong relationship [to swing]. It's just sex, so go out and have a good time."
"Don't you get jealous seeing your girlfriend with another man?" we wondered.
"Oh, it's more hot," he answered. "See, I'm an average size ... ," he started to say.
"You mean ... ?" we asked, confirming he was referring to his member.
"Yes, and she likes big guys. They take her to places I can't. Me, I'm kind of a giving guy. I make sure a woman is satisfied before me. And at the end of the night, I know she's coming home with me." (We were amazed how that last utterance quickly went from Penthouse letter to Cosmo Guy Spy article, so we tried to steer the conversation back.)
"So, how do you get it on once you've met another couple?" we asked.
"We make a date for dinner. Then, a lot of times, we go home with them," he said.
"Um, I don't know much about this, but do you just swap partners, or does it turn into an orgy?"
"It depends on if we go home with more than one couple," he replied. "Sometimes you start off with your partner, then switch, but it depends on the other couples, too." He also told us that porn was a good icebreaker after the dinner stage.
He and his girlfriend, Rachele, 36, told us about one unusual encounter they had in a basement in Overland Park.
"All the walls were black and had a rubber backing," Bill said. "There was an X-shaped cross. You were chained to it and got flogged."
"The flogging wasn't real painful," Rachele said.
"What's a good safe word?" we asked.
"Well, a color is good," Rachele answered. "It indicates levels -- like, green is good, so amber or yellow means ease up a little but still do it."
"We had a friend tell her husband that she's in a pickle," added Bill. On that note, we thanked them for talking with us, whereupon Bill added, jokingly, "We could take you home and show you firsthand the experience. Then you'll really have some good pictures."
We declined his offer. You see, we're kind of straight-laced in that we only make out with randoms in bars. Or let cross-dressers feel our tits, which Trisha, thirtyish, did. Looking resplendent in a blond wig and a black sequined dress from Deb, she was there with her wife and claimed to be a good judge of boobs.
"They have to be firm with just a little bit of droop," Trisha said. "You don't want them poking your eyes out." After pronouncing the NR's rack "nice," she guided our hand to the chest of a guy standing nearby. "Feel this," she instructed. "It's real. Now feel this, too," she continued, guiding our hand to his crotch. "It's real, too."
Sadly, we couldn't think of a good safe word to use at that point, so we reclaimed our hand and took our leave for the night.