Turning Point


Well before a recent brawl turned the place into a police training exercise, we wondered about The Point. During our last and only time at the West Plaza nightspot, back in 1999, we witnessed a white blues band playing what appeared to be a private party on the bar’s top floor. Older, miniskirt-clad blondes with banana clips in their hair and roving flip-flops drunkenly cut a rug while clutching Michelobs and bent cigarettes. As a direct result of that sight, we were pretty sure The Point was some kind of sloppy blues club.

So when local DJ Raspy Josh — known for delivering underground rock, punk and new wave to the masses — told us that he had picked up Tuesday nights there, we were confused. We couldn’t envision that 1999 crowd getting its groove on to “Beef Bologna.” Of course, given enough alcohol, people will dance to anything. Somewhere, somehow, some inebriated soul has tripped the light fantastic to the maddening lull of cafeteria jazz.

Josh went on to say that The Point had not only revamped its downstairs lounge but also added an eclectic weekly roster of popular local DJs. In the absence of a vacationing Jen Chen, we figured we would check the place out in Night Ranger fashion. After all, we hadn’t been there in seven years — and as far as we knew, there would be no watered-down blues band in sight.

So with a handpicked crew of highly skilled research assistants, we made the journey on a recent Saturday night to The Point for an evening of cold, scientific observation. We chose Saturday because we knew that the effortlessly skilled DJ Automatic Westy would be on hand, spinning ’80s tunes in the newly monikered downstairs Olive Pit Lounge.

When we arrived shortly after 10, we spotted a woman with a ponytail on the side of her head, like the girlfriend from Napoleon Dynamite. She wore gigantic, Jackie-O sunglasses — indoors, at night — and a T-shirt that read “Don’t worry — I’m with the media.” It turned out that Elena, 24, and her friends had the T-shirts made as a joke for the Royals’ home opener and had just come from a game that night. Friendly and upbeat, she said she loved The Point for its fun, laid-back atmosphere. “Where else could I go looking like this?” she said, jabbing a finger at her ‘do. “And we love the power-hour special,” she continued.

Um, the power what?

Elena explained that during the power hour (actually called “The Starting Point”), 10 bucks will get you all the beer and well drinks you want from 8 to 10 p.m. That accounted for the high ratio of drunk-to-sober faces at such a relatively early hour. It’s usually followed, Elena continued, by “The Power Make-Out Hour.”

Her friend Katie added: “And there’s a bunch of board games downstairs. There’s nothing like trying to play a game of Operation after some drinks.”

Intrigued by the promise of drunken heart surgery, we made our way to the very chill downstairs lounge. We settled into a booth with a pitcher of Boulevard and began chatting up the group behind us. “We’re celebrating walking distance to the bar — a rarity, given the public transportation in this town,” said Andrew, a former St. Louisan.

Conversation then lightened up to more typical, drunken bar talk when RA Sarah asked Andrew and his friends, also from St. Louis, a question worthy of investigative reporting. “Hey, is it true that the equivalent for boogan here in KC is hoosier in St. Louis?” she inquired in an effort to bridge the Missouri gap by bonding over words for trailer trash. The answer to her question was a resounding yes.

“And there’s always Hessian,” added RA Renee. “It means a heavy-metal dirt type. I heard it all the time growing up in the Northland.” We determined that Hessian must be a strictly north-of-the-river term; none of us had heard it before, except in the Germanic warlord sense.

Enlightened and armed with new vocabulary words, we made our way to the DJ room, where an ’80s-themed birthday party was in full swing. Several people in laugh-inducing outfits were dancing to “Wait” by Wham. We noticed that ’80s music maven Automatic Westy was in a Wham mood; he followed the first song with more Wham.

Overwhelmed by so much George Michael and Andrew Ridgley, RA Maygun strode up to the DJ table to ask Westy just how much Wham he planned to spin. He promptly pulled out an LP and wagged a finger at it. “This is not Wham,” he informed her. “This is a George Michael solo effort.”

Ouch. We stand totally corrected.

Completely schooled (and shamed), we fled to the dance floor to bust out some ’80s moves with everybody else. That’s when we noticed a Hessian/boogan/hoosier look-alike wearing the most glorious mullet wig ever. It was shiny and hideous in color — kind of a dark-rust shade. He also wore a shirt that said “tWo” (Taz World Order) and oddly shaped stonewashed pants. Matt was there for his friend Janelle’s birthday party.

“I went to a thrift store looking for anything stonewashed as a costume,” Matt told us. “I found what I needed in about two minutes, and I’m pretty sure these are women’s maternity pants.” He pulled his waistband away from his body to demonstrate how stretchy the pants were — they could easily have fit a baby holding a beach ball. (We were relieved to discover that he was wearing shorts under his maternity pants. Thank you for not being a pervert, Matt.)

No fewer than 40 ’80s songs and countless beers later, we made our way upstairs to have a seat on the breezy patio. As we passed through the main bar area, we couldn’t help but notice a group of rowdy guys and gals dancing in beer slosh and screaming the lyrics to jukebox hits — similar to the dancers downstairs screaming the lyrics to ’80s hits. Given the blues scene we’d seen there years before, it made us realize something. Music really does bring people together. As long as there’s enough alcohol involved.

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