It Just Might Work: Secret bars

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Screen shot 2014-10-28 at 4.52.29 PMby Eric Ginsburg

I have button made by my friend Chuck Johnson that I wear sometimes, pinning it onto the front of my hoodie: “Only posers move to New York.”

When I gave one to my sister she wasn’t entirely amused. She moved to the Center of the Universe for several months after graduating college before moving back to more affordable Boston. But though I am a staunch and relentless proponent of the entire Triad, I’m not above borrowing a few ideas from that beacon of hipsterdom, and there are enough secret bars in New York City to make a list out of them. Actually someone already did.

I wrote before in these pages about a hidden bar I went to out of state, behind a nondescript door that I would’ve taken for a wall. When a friend pushed it open I felt like we were entering someone’s undisclosed fort, a basement lounge with a wall of records and a kind of creepy neon sign over the bar that just read, “Swallow.”

Our cities here are likely too small to keep something like this secret, though North Carolina’s outdated laws about membership and drinking establishments do lend themselves to creating spaces with layers of exclusivity. I’m imagining revolving bookcases, secret passwords, keys to unmarked doors and a bunch of other childhood fantasies, now with a fun new sidekick named Booze).

One Greensboro developer is already thinking about it, though he hasn’t figured out how people will enter the space. Through a secret passage in a bathroom stall, perhaps? Or maybe by walking through the kitchen and into what looks like a freezer? Would it lead into an underground lair of sorts, or a VIP rooftop terrace?

There are loads of unused industrial and commercial spaces that would be ideal in any of the three Triad cities, and maybe the best way to keep something like this under wraps would be to put it in High Point. An infrequently used furniture warehouse or showroom could be ideal, but to maintain the sense of exclusivity necessary it would need to be in a somewhat compact, cozy space.

In some ways the entire Triad is like a club, where everyone knows your name. If I hear my peers complain about one thing more than any other, it’s that their city is too small, the dating scene too incestuous and the nightlife too repetitive. So what better than a small, tucked-away private venue, a dimly lit joint where you and yours can be left alone, especially one in a Triad city outside your normal social circle?

And I’d like to propose the first password: “Only posers move to New York.”