Music After Sunset 

Running for covers at Broadway Bar

Friday afternoon had been long in coming, and I made plans to meet a friend at Broadway Bar to celebrate my one-year anniversary in San Antonio. My friend and I had discovered the bar while waiting for my car to be fixed at the Alamo Body and Paint shop across the street. Nestled in a strip mall in a traffic-heavy part of north Broadway, the bar offered a dark, cool atmosphere and an approvable jukebox, and we appreciated the way it contrasted with its immediate surroundings. It quickly became a ritual of ours to meet and drink at the little black box of a bar on any night of the week.

Rushing away from the office as quickly as possible, I sped through the windy streets of Bulverde, turned eagerly onto Broadway, and soon found myself parking in front of Broadway Bar. Thirsty and excited, I burst in and sprinted to the bar which was surrounded by working-class men in uniform chatting with the two hot bartenders in matching white-satin camis (their own Broadway Bar-brand uniform). When I sat, the blonde approached me with an outstretched hand. "Hi, I'm Ray! What can I get you?" I looked around and saw that my friend had not yet arrived, so I took advantage of their $2.50 whiskey special and ordered a Jack and seven.

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Bartenders work the large crowd as Austin's Mingo Fishtrap performs on the stage at Broadway Bar. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

I took my cocktail and sat at one of the little tables against the wall where I could keep my eye on the front door and watch for my friend. A Tool song blared from the speakers attached to the red walls, and the black pipes that formed the ceiling seemed to vibrate and writhe to the music like tribal snakes performing at the command of a master flute. I guess it had been a stressful work-week.

Still, my friend did not come. My whiskey quickly vanished, leaving half-melted ice cubes swirling lonely at the bottom of the glass. I approached the bar timidly and waited for Ray to see me. "Ummm, have you noticed a professional-looking, middle-aged white man who appeared to be waiting for someone?"

"No, not since I've been here. Just these guys," she answered, referencing the many men who were drinking at the bar, their puppy-eyes glued to Ray and her equally tantalizing brunette partner. Then she grabbed a $5 bill from the bar and handed it to me.

"Why don't you pick out some songs while you wait for him?"

Score! This bar is definitely the best place to be stood up. I fed the bill into the machine and began feverishly pressing numbers, as there were so many good CDs to choose from. A little Alice in Chains, a couple of Toadies songs, um, how about an old Tom Petty tune, yeah, definitely some Nirvana. Eighteen good songs of my choice rolled out and filled the bar and I sank back into my stool.

Broadway Bar

8800 Broadway, Ste. 250
822-5552

As the minutes passed, more and more people trickled in, and those who had been there all along became louder and more animated (toward the end of the night, one of the guys who'd been there from the beginning was sprawled on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the bar; like a creature from Alien, his loose tentacle-like limbs wobbled and shook, begging the Gods for a relief that likely would not come for at least 12 hours).

A band began setting up on the little stage next to the pool tables, and that one guy was still watching CNN hurricane coverage on the TV over the front door. It was clear to me now that my friend was not coming, but I was enjoying myself despite the disappointment. I had met a guy who claimed to have been on Baywatch Hawaii, I was able to select an hour's worth of good music on the jukebox for free, and I got to play with a remote-control car that lit up and twirled around like a spaceship (and if I'd had a $10 bill, I'd have bought it off the guy who was trying desperately to sell it). All the while, the place was filling up with skinny-waisted girls and groups of twenty-something guys who apparently wanted to dance to generic cover songs because that's exactly what happened when the Chris Boss Band plugged in and began playing.

They opened with a White Stripes song and followed with a string of over-played classics by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Steve Miller Band. I held on to my little table next to the wall and enjoyed watching everyone around me laughing and singing along (including one man who was more interested in seducing his pool stick than asking any of the ladies in the vicinity to dance). Though I would have preferred the songs from the jukebox to those of cover band, it was clear that the people around me were happy to hear something familiar on a Friday night. And the guys in the band, with their spiky hair, button-up shirts, and black ties, were cute. So I raised my glass to the party that was happening all around me and toasted my first fabulous year in San Antonio.

By Brooke Palmer


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