Couples in Knoxville bars bring a different vibe

Sometime in mid-May 2007, I was hanging out a club called the Maxx (which has long since shut down) for the first time, doing my weekly bar review.

A friend and I were sitting at our table enjoying a pitcher of beer and I started glancing around the room looking for people to photograph for my article. Sitting at the bar was a good-looking couple somewhere between mid-30s and early 40s smiling at each other, occasionally touching each other on the arm, laughing and otherwise looking like some kind of advertisement for Hallmark.

I approached them, camera in hand, and briefly introduced myself and explained that they looked like they were having a great time and that I'd love to take a photo of them for my article.

Instantly both of their faces grew giant smiles and they appeared overcome with giddiness.

"Well, I'm not sure her husband would like that," the man said. "And I bet his wife wouldn't like it either," she responded, laughing.

Needless to say, I was unable to convince them to be photographed.

At least once a month I experience this problem. Sometimes there are variations. For example, someone at Blue Chips politely told me that her divorce wasn't final yet and that she didn't think it was a good idea that a photo of her with another man appear in the paper. At least once or twice I've had someone articulate that the person they were with was not their significant other and so they didn't think it'd be a wise decision.

And sometimes people flat-out tell me that they're having a scandalous evening, often in a colorful, not-fit-for-print manner.

It usually cracks me up. And given how intoxicated some of these people are when I encounter them, it makes me wonder how many times I've photographed two people out with other partners who didn't make the connection that their photo was going in the newspaper.

But for every one couple that declines for a questionable reason there are 10 that agree to it. Every time it's the same situation - the girl looks so happy and says something like, "Baby we're going to be in the paper!" and the guy has a look on his face like "I knew we should've stayed in tonight."

It's got me wondering why couples even go out to bars in the first place.

Bar-going is definitely more of a singles' activity. My girlfriend and I don't exactly have date night at Cool Beans. We don't have a romantic evening full of Jell-O shooters at the Roaming Gnome or grind on strangers at Hanna's.

Single people go out with groups of other single people often in an attempt to meet someone. With alcohol serving as a social lubricant, there's always the possibility that you'll strike up some conversation with an attractive stranger (though in my experiences, that seldom happens, period).

As I've discovered by asking around, couples do go out to the bar regularly. It's a different kind of evening - you obviously don't want to get sloshed in front of your significant other (unless you've got some kind of Sid and Nancy thing going on) but sometimes you've got to get out of the house.

I've noticed Irish Times as a bar that couples frequent. It's higher end with a classier atmosphere, and its proximity to the movie theater plays a role in drawing couples in pre- or post film-viewing. Sunspot sports a nice date environment, as does Baker-Peters.

But I've also noticed couples out regularly at neighborhood spots, like Back Door Tavern, Paul's Oasis and Blue Chips. It's easy for couples to stop by the local pub for a few drinks on any given evening, and it fulfils that getting-out-of-the-house environment.

I even have a friend who goes to Bullfeathers with his lady just about every Monday night. Although I've never taken a girl out to get tanked at a karaoke joint at the beginning of the week, I can respect their decision (and find it hilarious).

Regardless, date night takes a different approach. And I've also found couples more willing to give me information and overall friendlier and more welcoming than any group of singles.

Even if they have other partners at home.

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Comments » 1

gbl24 writes:

Greg, I loved your story....well done. My wife and I enjoy going out to different places to have a drink and to enjoy each other. Sometimes its fun to pretend that we are meeting for the first time at the bar. We have been married for a million years. Have you tried the new restaurant in Market Square called "Blue Coast Burrito Grill & Margarita Loft? The loft is upstairs and its a really fun place for food and drink. It has a great energy and the prices are very good, and so is the food. We love going there, I highly suggest it to everybody. Its located next to the Stage on Market can't miss it, its on the corner.
Thanks again for the great story.

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