Case in point: the Sunshine Club. In a column a couple of weeks ago (“Snoopin’ Around A-Town, Aug. 3), Last Call wrote that the West Division Street bar’s seating is “cramped” and that the juke continuously blasted “really bad heavy metal.” A barrage of e-mails to the contrary followed.
Jeremy Albrecht argued that the eardrum-blasting crap I suffered was a fluke. He said that Sunshine and, by proxy its jukebox, “cater to an eclectic crowd, [playing] anything from Metallica to Dean Martin to Oingo Boingo.” Other writers said that Sunshine is the true alternative and that its neighbor (and one of my personal faves), Caves Lounge, is the West Division bar that’s too cool for its own good. Sunshine defender Stacey Alford summed everything up by saying that her home away from home is a place “where punk-rock chicks can get drunk without worrying about meatheads trying to rape them on the dance floor.”
She went on: “I prefer to keep the Sunshine known as a shit-hole so the assholes don’t come in. But when you tell people heavy metal plays there, that’s just an ad to all the mullet-heads to come there. Fix this calamity.”
Always one to rescue a damsel in distress, Last Call paid another visit to the Arlington dive and discovered that, yes, the place isn’t all that bad. There were some jukebox tragedies, but for the most part, the tunes (Beck, Led Zep) served as a groovy backdrop to a rather cool evening.
The only problem was one beyond the club’s control. Seems that on my arrival, all of the good seats around the horseshoe-shaped bar were occupied (probably by the very same cadre of e-mail conspirators), leaving me and my guest with no choice but to plop outside the little semi-circle. Although the joint isn’t much bigger than a glorified broom closet, I couldn’t shake the sensation that my guest and I had been put in time-out, confirming my suspicion that homey bars can sometimes be just as cliquish and into themselves as their upscale neighbors. (Sunshine’s seats were awfully comfy, though.)
So Last Call may not receive the VIP treatment at the Sunshine – big deal. There aren’t many places that roll out the red bevnaps for yours truly, anyway. But at least I have a newfound respect and appreciation for the Sunshine. I’m glad I went back.
In one particular e-mail, a Sunshine advocate managed to plug another hang-out, Ye Olde Bull & Bush, where she gets to take money out of the tip jar.
Last Call hadn’t visited the Montgomery Street pub in ages, so what better time to get reacquainted with the place’s chalk-ridden dartboards and Sanford and Son-style furniture than via personal invite.
Mandy Hall’s spiky hair, spunky step, and petite frame totally corresponded with her brutally honest electronic missive. (At one point in her e-mail she said, “Maybe your idea of fun is sitting alone in some smoky bar criticizing people having fun somewhere else.”) But her assertiveness didn’t take away from her service. Maybe the cool vibes came from my learning early on in the visit that she was named after a certain Barry Manilow song. (Last Call hearts Barry.) Or maybe they came from coming in contact with owner Nick Gregory, whose good-natured glad-handing is endearing. Whatever. Hall kept the Guinness cold, the glasses warm, and the bagpipes on the jukebox to a doable minimum. As a certain crew of regulars at a certain bar on West Division in Arlington can attest, there’s nothing that gets Last Call’s goat more quickly than an unruly juke.
Contact Last Call at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sunshine Club
902 W Division St, Arlington. 817-277-6252.
Ye Olde Bull & Bush
2300 Montgomery St, FW. 817-731-9206.