This weekend the Times celebrated a “party bus” that rolls from Williamsburg to the West Village, on which revelers both shotgun beers (that means, the Times helpfully explains, “puncturing the can and finishing it in one long swig”) and pour them on each others’ heads.
The bus was concocted by Taavo Somer and Ken Friedman to bring distant hipsters to their Manhattan bar, the Rusty Knot. But aficionados suggests it’s more than a commercial venture — it’s a return to New York when it was Fun and they were toddlers or not yet born.
“This bus is a little bit like going back to the New York of the ’70s or ’80s, when it wasn’t about the money, it was about the spirit,” says “an actor from Bushwick who was gyrating in the aisle with friends and high-fiving strangers.”
Brooklyn 11211 disputes this. “If by ‘the New York of the ’70s or the ’80s’ you mean the Upper East Side frat-boy scene, then yes,” they sniff. “I suppose the silver lining here is that the bus is taking these people OUT OF the neighborhood.”
Others are more juiced. We first recall seeing such a service at a party in Red Hook, where organizers realized that their event was so far from public transportation that they’d better help get their guests to and from civilization. This is the first we’ve heard of a bar luring customers with transportation within the MTA grid. Normally, in other jurisdictions, party buses are for folks who want to get hammered without drunk-driving home — like the cowboy who ended a night’s debauch by punching out a window. But as New York’s not a driving town, the avoidance of DUI is not a come-on, so the organizers have to make it fun — allegedly of a sort not permitted in traditional venues.
“You can’t dance in a bar — that’s illegal — you can’t smoke in a bar… it’s getting to the point where we’re not the city that doesn’t sleep,” says Somer, who, bear in mind, actually helps run the bar that lacks these basic party amenities. So the journey becomes the destination: a safe zone for rebels with “cigarette smoke billowing,” and where one girl “tried to crawl through a roof hatch.”
Which prompts the question: Why does the party bus have to even stop at one of these no-fun bars anyway? There are companies that provide such services for bachelor parties and such like, complete with alcohol, sound system, and, in some cases, a stripper pole. If the usual conveyance seems too suburban for the bright young things, maybe a crafty indie promoter can trick one out like a fashionable lounge (as the Rusty Knot bus “runs on irony as much as diesel,” they should probably get some of that irony stuff too). Then the cognoscenti can shotgun and pound windows to their hearts’ content all night long, without ever coming to rest to be reminded that in New York City, fun is something for which you have to make special arrangements.