I am not a fan of nightclubs. Even when I was younger, I would wonder why I should take my hard-earned money and pay for the privilege of purchasing overpriced drinks and wait in line to use the bathroom. I much preferred houseparties where it was much more likely that I knew everyone or the people I didn’t know were vouched for. The liquor was usually free or really cheap and I was never self-conscience. Then I caught the tail end of the rave scene and was hooked. I loved the music, I loved the vibe and there is nothing like the feeling of getting lost in a sea of sweaty bodies as the bass pounded through your chest. After that, my friends almost had to trick me to go to a regular nightclub.
I started really getting into playing pool when I lived in Charlotte. A short distance from where I lived in the Plaza Midwood area was a bar called Elizabeth Billards. It’s where I learned how to play and where I spent two years playing APA nine ball and became my regular hang-out. Eventually the regulars came to know me and when I walked in, Warren the bartender had my drink ready. I miss that place.
When I moved to upstate New York in Hudson, I was lucky that my cousins took me under their wing and I was able to get my bearings all over the area from Albany to Kingston while I watched them and their bands play. Eventually a restaurant/bar opened up next to my friend’s tattoo shop (Shamless Plug: Atomic Ink Tattoo on Warren St.) and that became our hang-out while it was open. You could almost always find me at JayBeez on open mic Wednesdays. But the place in Hudson that has stood the test of time is the Half Moon, dive bar extrodinaire.
The Half Moon is unique in all my travels. Like every typical dive, it’s dark and most of its patrons are regular folk and not self-involved hipsters being ironic. It’s a favorite among the local bikers and the local hip hop crowd. I swear to God and not once has anything really popped off when I was there.
So here I am in Springfield, MA almost two years and I couldn’t really find a place that fit me. There was Boston Billard for awhile. They satisfied my pool habit and I could play free on Wednesdays but it was too big to really be for me and the guys at the door could be dicks. Anyway, I found out last week that they are closed. There was Mingles in West Springfield and that place rocks with great kararoke seven nights a week but no pool table. There’s also a brief time at Blue Fusion right around the corner from my house but I mainly go just for the poetry night.
Finally, desperate to get my gay on, I drove up to Northampton to check out Queer Night at Ye Olde Watering Hole. I love it. Three well-maintained pool tables, a lively dart scene, cheap drinks and a decent jukebox. The bartenders are friendly and the best part is that the bar doubles as a beer can museum. That’s right. The entire place is lined with old beer cans. If you’re in the area, you have to check it. I pretty sure this just might be my place.