Rope Line and Tonic
On a recent Saturday night, we found ourselves in line behind about two dozen stiffs waiting to get into Tonic, that hybrid restaurant and nightspot in downtown Overland Park. Well, in our big book of night-life observations, we’ve always maintained that the longer the line outside a bar, the higher the douche-bag factor inside.
Thankfully, we’ve found that Tonic flouts this theory. We ended up in line there after predrinking with Research Assistants Amy and Erik at various north JoCo bars. It was after midnight, and we were nervous about not being able to get in for any serious drinking before the 2 a.m. closing time. So we sweet-talked the bouncer into admitting us. Sorry, all you people who are probably still waiting.
After paying the $5 cover, we maximized our time by making a beeline for the bar. Tonic has a fairly extensive martini menu, but when there’s a line at the bar, we opt for easily made libations, such as the $5 Jack and Cokes and vodka cranberries that we ordered. Plus, we have a theory about letting too much time lapse between drinks, which is as bad as say, line-cutting. Or making Baby Jesus cry.
Armed with our plastic cups of alcohol, we strolled around to assess the place. Thanks to the stringent rope-line policy, the bar wasn’t annoyingly overpacked. The room was divided into a bar area, which took up a third of the space, and the dining area a few steps lower. In the middle was the VIP area, a kidney-shaped section with plush bench seating and limited access points.
That’s where we spotted KCTV Channel 5’s Surae Chinn, looking live, late-breaking and lovely. We wanted to ask her if she was getting any action — news, that is. But she declined to be interviewed and seemed a little leery of our investigative ways. Later, she came over and said, somewhat tentatively: “Hey, Jen. I didn’t mean to be snotty.” Fret not, Surae — we didn’t think you were anything but nice. Why is it that this town idolizes TV people to the point that they have to be all image-conscious when they’re out? This just in: That sucks.
Anyway, back to the tour. The plasma screens dotting the brick walls continually flashed party pics from previous nights. We caught a glimpse of a slide show labeled “Kevin’s divorce party pics,” which seemed to be a festive affair involving rampant drunkenness. In one jaw-dropping case, a boob top that was practically cut down to the wearer’s bellybutton exposed a pair of C-cup breasticles.
Sadly, we didn’t spot any such tops during our visit. Most of the women kept it demure in hot pants, low-cut tops, stiletto heels and sparkly belts. The striped-shirt contingent was low, and the racial diversity was high — we like that distribution. We ended up meeting a guy named Brian of UK-Ghanaian heritage who ended up in KC because his uncle married a woman from here. We chatted with a quartet of Jamaican guys who met one another at Park University. We asked their names, and one guy called Tete stressed that his name was pronounced Tay-Tay, not Teat. Another gave his as “Bond. James Bond.”
So, Mr. Bond, do you like your women shaken or stirred?
“I’m not a picky eater,” he replied.
This set of non sequiturs was brought to you by multiple vodka cranberries.
We then encountered a gaggle of women who were pretty lit and, therefore, incredibly friendly. We chatted briefly with 28-year-old Michelle, a mammogram technician, who, interestingly enough, was wearing a shirt with a low slit in the front that was potentially teat-exposing. She pulled the look off well, in that she wasn’t really popping out all over the place. Her friend Carina, who was drinking a pink martini from a real glass, was equally outgoing. Carina took our notebook and gave us her phone number along with a note reading “Carina loves you! Call me!!” She even dotted the exclamation points with little hearts.
Naturally, some requisite clubbish characters were in attendance that night. Upon a trip to the loo, we spotted That Chick in the Bathroom Screaming Into Her Cell Phone. The trendoid had long, straight blond hair and was rocking the knee-length shorts and brown pumps. “I don’t know how we fucking got in! TC’s got connections!” she screeched. As overheard conversations go, this one was a little too reminiscent of Laguna Beach, so we fled.
Just outside the bathroom, the grinders were in action. Tonic isn’t a club, per se, so it doesn’t have a dance floor. Those into frotteurs either flocked to an area near the front by the big, garage-door-style windows or stayed in the back, where there was more room to flail. That’s where we spotted a chair dance that involved two brunettes. One sat on the chair, and the other straddled her. Both were getting into it — that is, until they lost their balance and fell face-forward, landing with a crash on the ground. A staffer stepped in and took the chair away, to the disappointment of the ogling guys standing nearby. We are hereby declaring that the faux-lesbonic display simply for male attention is now totally cliché. Sorry, guys.
The physical comedy didn’t stop there. Off to one side, we saw a couple sitting on the banquette, laughing hysterically as the guy mock-pushed the woman, who promptly plopped onto her back in the booth, pratfall-style. Chad and Bonnie were very amiable. Bonnie lives here, and Chad lives in Cleveland, and they’re trying the long-distance thing. They met in January on a private yacht in the Virgin Islands. She was the freeloading friend who tagged along, and he was there for the company outing. “We got really drunk and slept together,” Chad said.
“We did not! We went skinny-dipping!” Bonnie said.
“She took advantage of me,” Chad contended. Either way, that’s a hell of a how-we-met story.
When “Golddigger” came on, a five-person sandwich chain formed. It involved a guy in an argyle sweater, a woman in black gaucho pants and other assorted lushes. One guy, who was facing Gaucho Pants, took off his T-shirt and threw it around her neck, dancing with it towel-style. After a few seconds, he put it back on, while all around him, the women bent low to the ground, rubbing their butts into the guy’s crotch.
As far as we’re concerned, that’s a move that never gets old, because the crotch-to-ass ratio is directly proportional to a bar’s soused enjoyment.