What’s the most revolting aspect of the upstairs men’s room at this classic Westport dive? Is it the slosh of water and piss that accumulates on the floor over the course of the evening? Having to hold your breath while you urinate? What about having to doggy-style dry-hump the man at the urinal in order to move from the stall to the door?
This KCK joint boasts an easygoing staff, cheap drinks, vintage décor, and restrooms like a Bosnian prison. You try standing at that double trough (top picture) with your waist touching another man’s waist and see if anything flows out of your body.
Now here is a scene. This Shawnee bar (which offers karaoke every night of the week) is not so much a party venue as it is a magnet for lost souls and dashed dreams. The bartenders eye strangers with suspicion, and the DJ/MC announces the next singer in line with the hollowest enthusiasm. Yes, the burden is on you and your group to bring the fun. You may also consider bringing sanitary items, such as a Health Gards toilet-seat cover, or maybe a diphtheria vaccine, because the restrooms are atrocious. Last time we stopped in, we discovered the following: the women’s toilet seat pictured here; a sink spotted with yellow stains that we pray to Jeebus were not urine; stripped, filthy, garagelike flooring; and the sentence “Please stop throwing toothpicks in the toilet … the crabs have learned to pole vault!” etched in Sharpie on the wall.
Harlings is such an outstanding bar — hands-down one of our favorites in the city — that we’re willing to overlook that walking into the men’s room there is like being gassed with a 100 years’ worth of piss particles. The source of the vinegary stench appears to be the floor-length urinal. Is there a correlation between such urinals and horrible odors? Because you can catch a whiff of that same stank standing in front of Manifesto’s to-the-floor urinals, and that’s the type of classy joint (we love it) where the clientele is less enamored of old pee smells. There’s a sign above those Manifesto urinals that reads, “Al Capone Pissed Here.” Is his piss still there? Is that why it smells like somebody dissected a frog in there?
A cautionary tale. Having lost both its most popular bartender (John Yuelkenbeck) and the finest jukebox in the city (which Yuelkenbeck curated) in 2011, the ’Coach is staring down a future in which its gross washcloth machine (you tug on the dirty part of the towel to get to the clean part of the towel, see?) isn’t sufficiently counterbalanced by a cool atmosphere. Midtowners tolerate nasty latrines when there’s a Replacements or Sonic Youth song playing. It’s a different story when the Internet jukebox is on Nickelback autopilot all night.
The walls are decorated with torn-out Playboy centerfolds, and it’s possible to accidentally touch another man’s penis while at the sink. If you do the right thing and wash your filthy hands.