Dueling Wood

OK, we admit that we were prepared to hate Tymber, the newest addition to Overland Park’s strip-mall nightlife. The place combines two bar genres that we hate: upscale sports meets dueling pianos.

But we were intrigued by the potential cheesiness of a bar that dared to combine sports with a keyboard pissing match. So on a Saturday night not long after it opened, we took Research Assistant Erik into unknown territory — south of 119th Street.

When we pulled into the parking lot at 135th Street and Nieman Road, we spotted a velvet-rope line with about 10 people waiting to get in. Just outside the bar, a stocky, muscular guy was putting on his shirt and yelling to his friends to wait. The line disappeared by the time we reached the door, so we strolled past Mr. Shirtless and entered the place.

Thankfully, we encountered no pianos, dueling or otherwise. We later found out that pianists duke it out only on Wednesday nights. On weekends, Tymber is basically a club that features DJ Highnoone spinning ’80s, hip-hop and such random things as 50 Cent mixed with Nine Inch Nail’s “Closer” or Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” layered over Nelly. As we threaded our way through the crowd, a cluster of people donned sunglasses during Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night.” Highnoone, who used to work at Blonde and NV, described Tymber as sports-bar-meets-Blonde, though with one difference.

“At Blonde, you’ve got the $20,000 millionaires,” he said. “Here, we’re going for the average person, as long as they’re dressed to impress.”

There was plenty of that going on at Tymber, where man-tribe hordes strutted in tightfitting T-shirts and slick button-down shirts, and their female counterparts broke out the short shorts, the micro-skirts and the low-cut tops. Tymber drew a fairly big crowd, but the douche bag and meat-markety factors were fairly low. Surprisingly, our fellow drinkers were diverse enough to flout the vanilla reputation of Johnson County.

Tymber’s setup was pretty nice. In the large front room, TVs stud a big, wooden octagonal bar. Two giant screens hang high on a wall. On one screen that night, the end of the KU basketball game was visible, to the delight of the cheering throng huddled underneath it. Two sets of doorways lead to the larger back room, which houses the dancetorium. A parquet floor and platform stand at one end, and above that is an enormous screen. Black-leatherish booths line the wall in the VIP drinking area, where bottle-service drink carts ($200) are laden with liquor, beer, shots and mixers.

Naturally, the denizens of these booths were having a fantastic time dancing in place. A couple of women wearing black pencil skirts, black knee-high boots and metallic tank tops lap-danced it up. We encountered 21-year-old Jennifer, who was dancing atop the VIP booth with her 23-year-old friend Kaitlin. Another woman joined them, then that trio clambered up on a platform above the booth seats and started writhing away together. Of course, that attracted the attention of a staffer, who told them to get down. Jennifer told us that she and her friends didn’t know the people at the neighboring booths. But, she added, “Everyone loves everyone here!” Oh, we can bet that the ogling guys loved them at that particular moment, too.

At the other end of the room, swaths of black fabric rained down from the ceiling and provided a modicum of seclusion for the island of booths located near the dance floor. True to its name, leafless trees were painted on the walls of both rooms in different colors. We loved the stark tree murals, which were very Anthropologie-like.

Alas, our drink budget didn’t allow for bottle service, so we ordered our $6 Jack and Cokes from the back bar. Apparently, that was the hot place to be. The nearby back nook was festooned with pink balloons for a birthday party and guarded by a staffer. The lovely birthday girl was clad in a white button-down shirt and a pink striped tie that hung loosely around her neck. She was flushed from rocking the dance floor to a medley of Michael Jackson songs.

“Want to smell my rose?” she asked another woman, before pulling her shirt open and displaying a pink rose stuck in her cleavage. Then we caught a show as two bartenders in midriff-baring tops and short shorts danced atop the bar. One of the women dipped her fingers in alcohol and blew fire, which never fails to impress.

We then met 30-year-old Kendra (“30 is the new 20,” she said), who was dancing on the stage with a group of her friends. She giggled when we asked if she came to Tymber with any stories of falling wood. “More like rising wood,” she replied. “The guys here are pretty hot and tipsy!”

Speaking of which, we spotted a new couple sitting at the VIP booths at the end of the night. The woman straddled the guy’s leg, and both were bouncing up and down in time to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” We went over and met 28-year-old Jeremy and 21-year-old Korey, who had met that night. They stopped bouncing just long enough to answer questions.

“I don’t know him. We’re not together,” Korey said, before she mumbled something about being wasted.

Soon, the last song of the night came on: the theme from The Jeffersons. But it was abruptly cut off midway through, and the house lights came on. Outside, we encountered the tipsy lingerers, who did the last-minute number exchange and prolonged goodbyes with new potential hookups. One prime example of this was the guy who escorted a woman to her car, an SUV with a Pittsburg State Gorillas license plate holder. “That’s every Johnson County girl’s dream,” we overheard him say before they started making out in the front seat.

Forget the Gorillas’ tactic of running up the score. This guy knew plenty about scoring. And so does Tymber, which definitely makes a sound out in the hinterlands. JEN CHEN JEN CHEN JEN CHEN

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