On a recent Thursday night four friends and I found ourselves standing around downtown trying to figure out what to do. We had just finished up a round of drinks and were wondering if we should kick it up a notch or shift into a lower gear.
Half-jokingly, I suggested we head to the always-popular Sassy Ann's dance night. Everyone donned looks of excitement as my friend Robert said, as serious as a heart attack: "We've got to," setting our evening's plans in stone.
I hadn't been to Sassy Ann's in ages. Like many bars, it's best when you go with a large group of equally enthusiastic people. As such, it's usually an impulse. It's several people catching the vibe at once and deciding an evening of $2 PBR and dancing is the only route possible.
I'm a little surprised that moment struck when I was hanging out with four guy friends. But as we pulled into the famous Fourth and Gill neighborhood and parked in the dirty gravel lot outside Sassy's, we realized that just about every other person in town had the same idea, as the line extended from the dingy wooden deck to the edge of the lot.
As we stood outside, the doorman explained to us that such a crowd wasn't always common. "Some nights it's like this," he said, "and then it's tame for two, three weeks." In all my experiences at Sassy's, I've never seen a one-in-one-out policy enforced since it's never been packed to capacity.
And as we finally made it inside, we found not much had changed, which is exactly what we hoped. The downstairs area was a little more cramped than usual, with people opting to focus on conversation instead of dancing, but the wild vibe permeated the air. We grabbed a few drinks and braved the crowd, hoping to find seating arrangements.
Although the crowd was typical - people in their 20s wearing ratty clothing, dancing to songs that likely came out before they were born - there were a few curveballs, in the sense that the 30-and-over crowd was more prominent than usual. Dancing was still the main focus, with some of the area's least impressive dance moves fueled by cheap beer (but that's just Sassy's charm).
Since I've never seen the place so crowded, our evening exposed us to a new element. When the dance floor is so packed that another body couldn't possibly squeeze their way in, the mezzanine area becomes a secondary dance floor. Couples thrash wildly from the balconies, overlooking the stuffy dance floor. It adds a surreal element to the already surreal bar (its appearance is part Victorian mansion, part pirate ship, and part tacky dorm room) when you're watching hair and arms flying in all directions from above you.
In another Sassy's first, me and my party finally found a table tucked away in a dark corner of the mezzanine where we parked for the evening. (I've never noticed this table before, even though it's right next to the stairs, adding to the dream-like trance that Sassy's provides.) We opted to loudly discuss Stanley Kubrick films, shouting over the music. Occasionally, one of us would brave the trek downstairs to get a round of beers for everyone else, which usually involved pushing, dodging flailing arms, and tightly cradling five Fat Tires against our chests.
So after several hours of discussing film and desperately trying to remember who performed the song "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (answer: Whitney Houston) I wondered why we felt a Sassy's trip was a requirement of our evening, or why we even bothered to go in the first place.
The bottom line is that it's always so much fun to be engulfed in the Sassy's insanity. It's the most lively crowd in town - one that shows a deep appreciation for music they can dance to that isn't just a mash-up. They let loose but they don't lose control - it's the last place I could ever picture a bar fight. They're outgoing but they're not obnoxious. Observing them is the most fascinating form of people-watching, and being there makes you feel like you're a part of something.
Those aspects have never changed, and I'm thrilled I was lucky enough to catch Sassy Ann's in its finest form.