Actually, we're just kidding on that last item. Earlier in the week, we had received an e-mail from avid reader John, who proposed meeting up. Naturally, we try to be pretty cautious in such situations, and he didn't sound like a stalker in his witty e-mail. Plus, he sent a picture, which was also intriguing. So we suggested meeting up in a Night Ranger context: If he could recommend a new place, perhaps we'd write about it and he could join us and our gaggle of Research Assistants.
He immediately e-mailed back about Fuel, the new bar that's taken the former Café New Yorker space at 119th Street and Metcalf in Overland Park. "I went there with my friend about a week after it opened," he wrote. "We got there about 8, and they announced that the bartenders (all female) would be 'dancing on the bar.' Didn't someone else already come up with this idea? Coyote Ugly?"
Awesome. Is there anything better than a bar in JoCo that's reminiscent of a heckleworthy, five-year-old movie? We think not! We excitedly gathered RAs Robert, Kelly, Tracey and Laura and headed over, while the sage words of James Hetfield echoed in our heads: Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire! (Sadly, John e-mailed us earlier in the day to report that he couldn't make it.)
Oh, we got what we desired all right, though things seemed less than exciting when we first walked in ($5 cover, which also gets you into Raoul's). The bar itself was a little too brightly lighted, and the band was like something you'd find at a frat party, performing covers of Dave Matthews and other puka-shell-wearing boy anthems. We debated whether to request "Can't Fight the Moonlight" but decided not to be such an asshole.
The serpentine bar that stretched across the length of the place was its coolest feature, so we approached it to order some high-octane drinks from the bartender, who was in a tight, low-cut, midriff-baring T-shirt. Not surprisingly, the drinks were themed; after drinking a couple of blah Unleadeds (Jack and Diet Coke), we switched to beer. RA Kelly had a little more luck with her Antifreeze, though (UV Green Apple Vodka, sweet and sour, Chambord).
During the band breaks, the bartenders got up and did their thing on the bar, but it was rather anticlimactic. However, Amy, 26, and Tricia, 22 -- two patrons who were very cute and angelic-looking -- wanted in on the action. They clambered up and started grinding against each other, much to the delight of the ogling guys. Tricia bent over, displaying much of the tattoo on her lower back, and Amy fake-spanked her. The guys cheered. Then these Thursday-night lesbians grabbed the pole that ran parallel to the ceiling, hoisted themselves up, wrapped their legs around each other and started humping each other. The crowd went nuts, as did the staff -- in that oh-God-potential-injury-lawsuit sort of way. The male staffers pulled Amy and Tricia down, and the women obediently trotted back to their table in front of the damn loud band. We tried to interview them, but all we got from these two X-ray technicians was that dancing atop the bar was "fantastic." They added, "We're here to get drunk!" Well, that much was apparent, though we thought the use of the present tense was irrelevant by that point.
As that show ended, we noticed a body shot in progress. "Samantha," 27 -- whose neck was being licked -- was there for a GNO (girls night out) with Ginger, 34, Mary, 37, and Darci, 22. The friendly troupe practically talked all at once, challenging our slightly impaired note-taking skills.
"We've been hibernating because of the snowstorm. We're finally getting out," Ginger said.
"I'm at Fuel because I don't like gas prices," Darci interjected.
"Johnson County bars are filled with the weirdest people," said Samantha, a Chicago native. "They're kind of cool but kind of not. I'm having a bad '80s flashback. They dress good because they work in the stores where they buy clothes. Then they're the ones who go to the Plaza and act snooty. If we were in Chicago, that wouldn't matter. It's way more chill there." Not a bad assessment, if we say so ourselves. After her pronouncement, Samantha shed her fluffy pink Banana Republic sweater that tied with a big satin bow and, clad in just a white tank top and jeans, got up on the bar and swiveled away, whereupon Darci put a dollar down her cleavage.
We wandered around and caught glimpses of Amy and Tricia, who were looking increasingly zoned out as the night progressed. "Are they picking up?" we asked their friend Ton, 24.
"Probably. Her [Tricia] boyfriend's mad," he replied. "We're just waiting for them to fall off the bar." We're not sure if that ever happened, but sadly, some bar-stool-tippage did. However, little things like wastoidalness and lack of balance didn't stop these intrepid women in their determination to excel on the bar as the night progressed. At one point, the three bartenders joined forces to do a choreographed routine to "You Shook Me All Night Long." Channeling the spirit of Rudy -- uh, OK, make that Violet, the Piper Perabo character from Coyote Ugly -- Amy tried once again to get on the bar. Unfortunately, her dream was quashed; the dancer on the end pointed to her and sternly yelled, "No!"
"She yelled at her like I yell at my cat," Tracey observed. [Insert your own pussy joke here.]
We decided to take an informal poll of the guys: Is this better or worse than a strip club? Not surprisingly, many said better, citing the "people are more friendly" and "this leaves something to the imagination" factors.
"There's definitely some talent here," said 23-year-old Chewy. ("Like Chewbacca," he said. "My Spanish name my freshman year was Chuy. Then I grew a full beard and it stuck.") However, Donnie, 28, and his friend Doug, 22, disagreed. They were visibly morose, having been dragged to Fuel by some friends. "It's much worse," Donnie said. "I'm not a strip-club guy, per se. It's sophisticated nonsense ... it's full-fledged trailer-trash banality."
Kind of like Fuel itself, but the SoJoCo tribes provided plenty of entertainment indeed.