Underground Irish

We’ve found Brigadoon — it’s Paddy O’Quigley’s in Lee’s Summit.

We’d heard a vague rumor that this particular O’Quigley’s was drawing quite a crowd, thanks to its clublike atmosphere. Our only exposure to Paddy O’Quigley’s had been its JoCo branch, which is more frattish than a dancetorium. The thought of an eastern Jackson County branch conjured up images of a bemulleted, rollicking crowd. So, stereotypes firmly in place, we trekked east on a recent Saturday night with Research Assistants John, Joyce and Erik.

The first thing we learned: Lee’s Summit is the proud home of not one but two Paddy O’Quigley’s. One was way the hell out, and the other was less way the hell out. Fortunately, the branch we wanted was the latter, on Woods Chapel Road. Of course, we still got lost — our Rangermobile bar-homing device malfunctions in suburbia — so we had to stop at a QuikTrip to ask for directions. The clerk explained that the bar was next to another QuikTrip. Which, of course, brought to mind the scene from Best in Show in which the Parker Posey character meets her husband in a Starbucks — not the same one but at neighboring branches across the street. Multiple QuikTrips and dual Paddy O’Quigley’s made us feel like we were in some weird twincentric universe, so after we reached our destination, we were more than ready for drinks.

O’Quigley’s isn’t really next door to a QT, but it shares asphalt with a bank and a Burger King. It’s a stand-alone building that resembles a clubhouse, which seems appropriate because it abuts a golf course. When we arrived, around 11:30, its parking lot was crammed full o’ vehicles. We spotted three Hummers — one with an obnoxious vanity plate — and scoffed at that assholery. Then we encountered a foreign situation for a suburban bar: There was no place to park. We tried to sneak into the bank lot, but a nice security guard told us to move.

“What does Commerce Bank have against the Irish?” RA Erik asked. “No Irish need park here.”

We found a spot on the hilly back road that led to the BK, then hiked for what seemed like a quarter of a mile to get to the place. As we approached, we heard an ominous sound: voices joined in singing Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” The effect was time-warpedly surreal. The guys paid the $5 cover (ladies got in free), and we stumbled into the big main room, where — yes, indeed — there was karaoke on a massive scale. George Orwell’s 1984 concept of group-sing was in effect. A cluster of people danced by the singer as the words were projected onto a giant screen behind his head. Off to the side, a bachelorette party sat around a huge table. We got our usual Jack and Cokes ($4) and stood around awkwardly, checking it all out. The East Jack duders mixed with the older cowboy types, and the plastered, hooched-out chickies stumbled around, falling tit-first into random obstacles.

We were about to head onto the outdoor balcony when we noticed stairs leading to a game room in the basement. We pictured a smoky arcade, but a different sort of game-playing was going on down there — that’s where we found the dance floor.

The downstairs scene was infinitely better than the restauranty upstairs, despite the fact that it was brightly lighted. (O’Quigley’s is anti-beer goggling.) The games consisted of foosball, Golden Tee and a few pool tables, but really, the focus was primarily on the drinking and the ass-shaking on the blue-speckled linoleum dance area. Above it, a giant screen and two smaller TVs incongruously broadcast SportsCenter while classics such as “Me So Horny” and “Let Me Clear My Throat” invited people to not only sandwich but also grind crotch-to-ass.

We liked it. The crowd was young and racially diverse, which is always cool to see. The vibe didn’t feel skeezily meat-markety, which was refreshing. The basement attracted all kinds — married types flirting with those not their spouses, new mothers getting a night out of the house for the first time, wastoidal dancers grinding against the support beams.

Then we met some really cool people, including 30-year-old Nikei and her boyfriend, 29-year-old Tuan. The bespectacled pair had huge, friendly smiles, and we thought they had to be the cutest couple in town. In addition to that, Nikei won us over immediately. “I’ve been reading the Pitch since I was 10,” she proclaimed. She was born and raised in KC, she said. Then she told us that she and Tuan had been dating since they were 16 years old.

We ran into 30-year-old Aleashia. We had noticed that this petite blonde, who was clad in a low-cut black top, seemed a bit lit. Her friend, 25-year-old Anthony, told us that she dated his cousin.

“He has pretty teeth,” Aleashia interjected, referring to Anthony’s dental work.

We thought that she was flirting with Anthony, but he quickly dispelled that misconception. “She likes my brother, actually,” he said. Just then, his brother, Tim, came up. “Look at those teeth,” Aleashia said again, this time about Tim’s mouth.

“It’s the bitch from the Pitch!” Tim exclaimed. Catchy, Tim — we’re going to put that on the Night Ranger business card. We’ll send a copy to you and your teeth.

After that interaction, we ran into some others who were into the pithy catchphrases. A gaggle of frat brothers had clustered in the back. Naturally, a few of them wore Abercrombie T-shirts with hi-larious quotes emblazoned on the front. “I mow your mom’s lawn,” read one. (Yeah, but do you trim her bush?) Randy told us that his shirt’s slogan — “Yes, I have plenty of change, you homeless piece of shit. Thanks for asking” — had offended a woman at O’Reilly Auto Parts earlier that day. “Are you wearing that for me?” she allegedly asked, all pissed off.

“She was 7-foot-8, 680 pounds. I’m not exaggerating at all,” Randy continued. “She scared the hell out of me. I was too shaken to talk. I was shaking so bad.” He survived his bout with the mythical giantess, though.

Last call was announced soon afterward, and as the lights went up even more, the Night Ranger co-opted a nearby table to look through her purse for some gum. Just then, a guy standing a few feet away got up from his chair and threw it to the ground, as if in anger. His friend pointed to the NR, and the guy, who didn’t realize that a bystander was in the line of fire, came over and apologized.

On that note, we took off, content in the knowledge that, unlike Brigadoon, O’Quigley’s would likely be there to serve the clubgoing needs of toothy eastern Jackson County inhabitants for a long time.

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