We got that directive at Jaywalkers Sports Bar & Grill, where we encountered not only our lovely Amazon but also the afterparty for something called Guns 'N Hoses. Although "Guns 'N Hoses" would be a fantastic name for a gay bar, we found out that GNH is an annual boxing event where firefighters battle cops to benefit charity. These disparate elements plus the added catalyst of cheap drinks made for an interesting mix of subcultures colliding at the cusp of KCK and KCMO.
Located near 39th Street and Rainbow, Jaywalkers is the seven-month-old sister bar of Westport's Dark Horse Tavern. We were interested in seeing what sort of décor and atmospheric changes the new proprietors had made to the pit formerly known as Downing's. So, around 11ish on a Saturday night, we headed over with our group of research assistants.
To our delight, the interior turned out to be a vast improvement. The dank had been eradicated and a large, cherry-stained wood bar stood at one end of the square room. Booths lined the walls, and out front was a good-sized deck. Newly painted black walls were festooned with Big 12 banners, and 11 flat screens were strategically positioned around the room. Hanging above the bar were two folded T-shirts: One represented the Westport Fire Station with a Notre Dame-inspired Fighting Leprechaun logo; the other featured a skull and read "Quindaro Fightin' Fives."
Brilliantly, we deduced that Jaywalkers was a firefighter hangout. On the night of our visit, it certainly was more Rescue Me than Rock Chalk. We later found out that Mike, the bar's manager, is also a full-time firefighter in Quindaro and that Jaywalkers had sponsored one of the boxers in the tournament that night.
In fact, the front doors were producing a steady stream of guys clad in their departmental T-shirts. Grizzled, older vets gathered at the bar, and a few lotharios with gelled-slick hair strutted about the room, mingling with moms, wives and girlfriend-types. Then the boxers made their grand entrance, hoisting their championship belts above their heads while the crowd cheered.
"Let's do shots!" was the rallying cry from a table of mostly younger chickies near us, and up at the bar, the tequila started flowing into Mexican shot glasses with dark-blue rims. We, too, needed to get liquored up, so we found seats and assessed the alcohol situation. We were tempted by the array of beer on tap Boulevard, Boddington and 1554 Black Ale as well as three different types of Free State but ultimately took advantage of that night's $2 wells and got our usual vodka cranberries.
As we sat and quaffed, we were entertained by two cute tattooed waitresses dancing on the other side of the bar to the Violent Femmes' "Add It Up" and other random tunes emanating from the touch-screen jukebox. We were also somewhat entranced by one clearly lit guy in a black button-down shirt. He teetered about, spilled some of his drink on a busty woman in a white tube top, then finally settled on a stool in a quiet spot, looking as though he was either going to pass out and bonk his head on the bar or erupt vomitously.
We figured more firefighter groupies would be in attendance, but the women we met seemed to be friends of friends, such as 29-year-old Lainie, who is BFF with a firefighter's wife. She was sitting at a side table with her girlfriends and kindly assessed the guy situation at Jaywalkers for us. It basically boiled down to firefighters equal hot.
"I love the uni," she said. "Who doesn't?" Sadly, no one in the bar caught her eye. "The hot men here ... not so much," she said. "They're all so short. Where are all the tall guys in KC?"
We also chatted with some of the boxers, who were all soft-spoken and lovely. As an added bonus, they let us hold their belts, which were much heavier than we expected. We first flagged down Joseph, a 27-year-old featherweight who had won that night. His bout was over in 30 seconds. "It ended a lot faster than I thought, but it was a fun, good experience," he said. (Would it be too crass make a 30-second-man joke here?)
Next up was 21-year-old José, who was also victorious despite the fact that his opponent had more than 30 pounds on him. We wondered whether José, as a firefighter, frequented smoky bar environments. He does not he just turned 21 at the beginning of November. We had one more burning question for him: Which was the greater adrenaline rush boxing or firefighting? "Oh, firefighting," he said. "It's a different experience. I've never boxed before."
We finally found the heavyweight: 27-year-old Darnell, whom the bar had sponsored that night, an amiable guy with an awesome wife.
"I taught him everything he knows," Victoria said after we introduced ourselves. They met at a wedding eight years ago. At the reception, he asked her to dance, and she said yes. "The rest is history," he said.
The boxers melted back into the crowd, which was getting a little bit more raucous it was well after midnight. RA Cece slipped into the bathroom, where she overheard a great snippet of conversation between two friends about boobs: "Oh, you got 'em reduced? I got mine bigger, and I paid for it myself!"
Then we met a drunken trio of tattooed ladies at the bar, and the oversharing really started to fly.
Both 29-year-old Jaime and 33-year-old Patrice were short and bespectacled, and Alisha was the tall woman who joked about hunting us down. We asked how they knew one another, and 21-year-old Alisha promptly replied, "I want to fuck Patrice, and Jaime dates my roommate" one of the waitresses at the bar.
So, how's the Patrice-pursuit going?
"Are we fucking? Eventually. It's the first date. We'll see how drunk we get her," Alisha replied. Just then, in a fantabulous bit of timing, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" came on the jukebox.
The conversation turned, quicksilverlike, to talk of strap-ons and dildos. Then Alisha issued her "don't make me look like a loose whore" mandate.
Patrice had one more piece of wisdom for us: "KC is a cesspool for sadness, if you don't fall asleep before the booze kicks in."
Thankfully, the city's also a cesspool of places like Jaywalkers, with plentiful drinks at collegiate prices.