Life in a Fishbowl

In our observations of the rich anthropological brew that constitutes Kansas City’s nightlife, we’ve developed a pet theory about the lines outside bars. In other cities, a line might indicate that the establishment is hot; in Kansas City, the length of the line is proportional to the dork factor of the clientele. The longer the line, the cheesier the crowd.

One place that perfectly embodies this theory is Have a Nice Day Café, where the line of people who want to Dance! Dance!Dance! to thudding ’70s and ’80s music often stretches downstairs to the Panera Bread Company (which, in keeping with the retro theme, we like to call Pantera). Walk by on any weekend night, and you’ll see the huddled masses of tube-top girls simultaneously bobbing their heads to the music and trying not to mess up their lacquered hair. Even more amusing is the lack of coats — though it’s 40 degrees out — so that fake-bake inflatable chests are displayed in all of their one-shouldered-shirt glory. We speculate that the members of the female crowd stay warm because their orange, leathery skin encrusts them and keeps in the heat, like mutant iguanas.

Upon entering HAND, it’s easy to become disoriented and vulnerable to a seizure. Too many flashing lights! Too much cologne! Too many bubbles from the bubble machine! As always, the best way to work through this is by drinking, and we highly recommend the specialty of the house: the fishbowl.

Made by mixing a Kool-Aidlike product with Everclear and served in a plastic fishbowl, it’s available in such flavors as purple, orange, blue and fruit punch. As is its wont, the grain alcohol is deceptively subtle in taste, which makes its effects all the more lethal. Adding to the danger is that each fishbowl is festooned with at least eight tall, neon straws, which just enable the drinker to suck it down faster.

We imagine that the impact of a fishbowl is similar to that of absinthe: Soon everyone is bathed in a weird sort of light. This is really the best way to observe the HAND crowd, whose antics grow more amusing as the night wears on. However, there’s always the hazard that the mocker will become the mockee, engaging in embarrassing behavior such as dancing/stripping on the platform by the DJ booth or joining the mob doing the electric slide. (Why does everyone but us know how to do the electric slide? Were we absent from that one wedding where they taught the steps?)

There is also the potential humiliation of exiting the club and being heckled by observers on the deck of Buzzard Beach, who have turned taunting into a sport. But buoyed by the false confidence and fruity goodness of a fishbowl, you can probably slur some retort that will shut them up.

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