Hanna's Cafe in the Old City
- Address: 102 S. Central St.
- Phone: 865-637-8909
- Website: hannasoldcity.com
KNOXVILLE — Hanna’s in the Old City is one big girls’ night out.
I’ve been several times, and none of my male friends ever suggest going there, despite the fact that the crowd often consists mainly of women. Although it embarrasses me to share this, I have been brought along on girls’ night out a handful of times, and Hanna’s usually hosts the event.
Hanna’s is a nonstop dance party, which is likely why the crowd is mostly female (that, and ladies get in free while guys pay a $5 cover). Their music blares throughout the Old City thanks to their outdoor PA, bringing folks in like moths to a flame — the flame of 1980s music.
As entertaining as it can sometimes be to hear a creatively mixed collage of ’80s pop, I respect Hanna’s for playing the songs in their entirety. It brings everyone back to a specific time to collectively dance and sing in celebration.
Plus, after a few drinks you’re a little more willing to sing along with “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” or “Livin’ on a Prayer,” somehow still being able to pull all of the lyrics out of your subconscious and belt them into the ears of strangers dancing nearby.
Any regular Knoxville bargoer has been guilty of this on more than one occasion. Don’t pretend you haven’t been.
The upstairs at Hanna’s has a different feel, if your evening needs a change of pace. It’s dimly lit with an additional bar and a smaller, stuffier dance area. There’s different music, usually something DJ-driven instead of ’80s tunes, and the dancing takes on a more serious vibe.
Hanna’s brings in mostly people in their 20s through 30s. Since it has a counterpart on the Strip, the younger bargoers typically hit that club, resulting in a slightly older clientele at the Old City venue.
I’ve noticed in my Hanna’s experiences that most of the crowd sips mixed drinks, possibly because of its nightclub vibe. The few guys tend to get beer, myself included. I went for two Miller High Lifes on my recent Saturday night visit. But no matter the drink, Hanna’s prices always fit the bill (my two drinks totaled $3.50), which is a large part of the appeal. If you’re going to be dancing to 25-plus-year-old tunes sung by skinny men with girly hair, it’s going to require several drinks.
The downstairs area is spacious with a wooden dance floor directly in front of the large bar. The Old City venue, much like the one on the Strip, tends to peak later in the evening with most of the crowd stumbling in around midnight. Also much like the Strip location, as it gets quickly crowded, the service tends to drop. People start ordering two drinks at a time to account for the long wait. But you can expect this at any crowded venue, and I can safely say that none of the Hanna’s staff has ever been rude to me or otherwise unreasonable.
The whole Hanna’s experience is completely straightforward. It’s a place to go with friends to dance to some classic songs and get a few drinks without breaking the bank. It’s not much of a sit-down-and-hang-out kind of place, but that’s not impossible there, either. The crowd enjoys intermingling, so it’s likely you’ll end up chatting with a number of new acquaintances.
School isn’t in session, football season hasn’t started and it’s the very beginning of a scorching-hot summer, so there’s basically no specific reason to be throwing down. But Hanna’s in the Old City is going as strong as ever, even on a “regular” old Saturday night.