Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bob's Five Bar Tour

Every year, in the depth of Winter, my friend Bob takes us all out on his Annual Five Bar Tour.  It's a great way to re-connect with old friends and generate some cheer during the dreary season.

The event originated in my old motorcycle club but has transcended beyond it; now more than half the people who attend are former-members who, like me, are just looking for fun.  Bob's been organizing the tour for about 15 years.  That's him in the Nassau Wings Motorcycle Club jacket above.

We went last night and had a great time.  We were a roving party of about 20 people, walking, laughing and making noise.  Some of us drink; some of us don't; all of us have a good time.

Every year, Bob picks a different neighborhood for us to explore and we pub-crawl to five local bars.  We used to take the subway to different parts of Manhattan where Bob, between bars, would point out historical locations and tell us entertaining stories.  After exhausting those areas, Bob branched out and started taking us to Queens, Brooklyn and even Staten Island.  Anywhere reachable by NYC subway.

The neighborhood  Bob picks is always a surprise.  We all meet at Penn Station and he announces our destination with fanfare.  Last night, Bob took us to Greenpoint, which is an old industrial part of Brooklyn which is being reclaimed by hipsters and young kids with lots of style but no money.  Exactly the kind of fun, cool place I enjoy hanging out in.

It took two subway rides to get there, but was worth the travel.  Greenpoint, next to Williamsburg (the current capital of hipster life), has a gritty and fun vibe.  All of the bars were hopping and one even had a small retro bowling-alley attached to it.  Watching 20-year olds in plaid shirts (men), short skirts (women), and wacky hair (both) rolling bowling balls while drunk was amusing.

Every year, a big challenge is to see if we can catch the "last" train home.  I live an hour outside New York City and the Long Island Railroad normally runs a train every hour -- with one exception.  On weekend nights, the last train is at 1:42 a.m.  If you miss it, the next train isn't until three hours later, at 4:14 a.m.  Sitting, drunk, in Penn Station for three hours in the middle of the night is not one's first choice.

Normally, our tour ends right around the time for the last train home and we try to catch it.  Last night, we were on track to doing that and, travelling on the subway, were only 14 blocks away at 1:18 a.m. when a fellow-passenger had a seizure.  They stopped the subway to get him medical attention and, as a result, we missed the last train home.  We felt sorry for the poor guy and chalked it up to life in New York. 

We waited in Penn Station for the next three hours, eating bad pizza and laughing at the evening's events.  During Bob's tour, clothing often gets removed for comic relief (in bars and out on the street, boys lower pants, girls raise tops) and those crazy enough to do it get immortalized in tales of glory.

I arrived home at 5:30 a.m., slept fitfully to around noon, and am now trying to tell you this story with a throbbing hangover.  The things I do for you people...

Do you go to any annual parties?


  1. I don't envy your hangover, Ally but do admire the idea behind this yearly pub crawl. How fun! And here's to a hair of the dog! Cheers!

  2. Oooh weeeee, sounds like a perfect evening. Shall need to attempt to time my 'one day in the not too distant future' visit around this time ... :0-)

  3. Old as dirt? More like 50-something going on 20! I'd hang out with you.

  4. Sounds like such a fun night. How fun must your adventures be.

    I wish I could get my friends all together even once a year! We do all try to get together either Christmas or my birthday. But I hope to start going back to the free art crawls when it's not freezing. I went to them a few times last year, but haven't been since it got cold.

  5. That sounds amazing. I love that it is a surprise each year too! What an awesome time. I, unfortunately don't have an annual party like this, but wish I did!

  6. Sounds like a wild night. I hardly stay out any later than 3 am but in a small town where everything is bikable that is an easily accomplished feat.

  7. Great photos.. I love the one of the couple on the bike. i am currently looking to buy a new commuter bike to go back and forth to meetings on, one that is easier to ride with skirts on and i LOVE this bike!!! Its the exact kind I want to get!!

    I have been having trouble posting comments on here.. seems everytime I hit publish my comment disappears into the either... hope you get this one!!
    xo J

  8. After reading your post i almost felt i was there and i am a little tipsy myself !
    Sounds like so much fun !

  9. I don't think I'm social enough for something like that! Sounds fun, though.

  10. sounds like you had fun! oh and you probably did see die antwoord on letterman. they're definitely mesmerizing--and pretty weird. yolandi wore those black contacts throughout the whole concert!

  11. That sounds like a blast! My husband and I throw annual parties: always one for his birthday in June, one for my birthday in October (these are often theme parties) and then Christmas and Festivus on alternating years, although we've been known to change it up a bit. I love the legend that builds up over the years. We have "The Guest Who Never Left," and many other stories that we all trot out when we've had a few - we told some last night at our Festivus party.

    PS - I love your self-portrait today. You should print that out, and put it up near your mirror, to remind you of how beautiful you are.

    1. Thank you, Sheila. The truth is that that is exactly why I created it: to shore up my confidence which has been ebbing lately. I worried that some might think it narcissistic but, since this isn't the me that everyone sees every day, I really can't be faulted for vanity. I'm striving toward an ideal, not celebrating my (current) reality. Thank you for intuitively grasping that. :)

  12. Sounds like a fun night ~ Must have been real interesting waiting the 3 hours for your train ~ Thanks for sharing the adventure with us.

    I have unfortunately lost every traditional bone in my body and the only regular event in my calendar is the weekend I spend in December with my scrapbooking buddies ~ I really need to create some traditions with my hubby and son.