I’m been missing the Bouchercon bar scene a lot lately. I live in a college town with enough bars to liquor up the entire university population several times a night without ever visiting the same place twice. There are dive bars, gay bars, nature bars, oriental bars, oxygen bars, tourist bars, martini bars and everything in between. The last couple of days I’ve made an effort to find a bar of my own. I’m a pub man by heart but the only two real pubs in town are too expensive for a grad student writer so I’ve made the rounds of places with cheap specials and the potential for high octane flirting and socializing. I’m not a bar rat, I’m not looking for the next score or a one night stand or anything like that, but I’m a social person and I like to be around people every once in a while.
Well I haven’t found anything I’ve liked so far.
The two best bar experiences I’ve ever had have been at mystery writing conferences and I think this set the bar (no pun intended, at least I don’t think so) quite high. My first ever conference bar experience was at Sleuthfest in Fort Lauderdale, FL this past March. That night I might and drank with SJ Rozan and Barry Eisler and several other writers. I made my way from group to group finding people I knew, people I wanted to know and people who just looked interesting. I didn’t have to resort to cheesy pick up lines because everyone in the bar shared the same common interests, writing and mysteries.
The best experience so far though was at Lonestar in Toronto the night after the Anthony Awards banquet at Bouchercon. There were a ton of people in there and again I was more social then I’d ever been in my entire life. I made new friends, met some childhood heros and had fun making jokes with Ian Rankin. Again, all of this was made possible because of the shared interest (and let’s be honest here, general intoxication) of the crowd. I hit on a sexy pair of booksellers I’d met the previous night at another party, yet in the same bar on any other night, I’d have had no reason to approach them. Unless I’m going to randomly approach every woman I meet in a bar and ask her what her favorite mystery book is and whether she thinks Robert Crais has lost his edge, I’m screwed in the general bar scene.
This is why I need to start my own bar. Just for writers and mystery fans. I could attach them to large mystery bookstores and have theme shots based on the locale and famous mystery writers. For sports fans we’d have a whole collection of Baltimore Ravens games on the tube. It would look like any other bar, but you would know that every person you approached would have at least one common interest. And Donna Moore and I would travel with our imaginary band too all of the locations. This would also be a great place to hold the annual “Drunky” awards.
And I don’t care if I had to smuggle it in illegally, we’d have the real Molson, not the import stuff they try to stick us with.