Hump-Day Dump

Here's to those few pioneers willing to confront the impossible, challenge the unknown and find the answers that unleash human progress. Only the fearless defy prudence in a quest for great truths: Is the earth round or flat? Can we split the atom? Why does Michael Jackson exist?

Yet curiosity is a dangerous thing. Whatshisname froze to death within reach of the North Pole. Or was it the South Pole? The search for truth very nearly killed Melville's Captain Ahab. Perhaps it did kill him--no one has ever finished Moby Dick, so no one knows for sure.

Well, this week's Burning Question treads such uncertain ground.


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The lure of nightlife is a simple matter. People yearn for the company of others--and a good buzz. On Sunday nights they elbow their way into Nikita. On Mondays they traipse over to Martini Ranch. Several spots draw crowds on Tuesdays, including Primo's, The Quarter and Kismet. And the city's long weekend begins Thursday.

But Wednesday...well, why don't people go out on Wednesday?

It's a perplexing question. "I wonder that myself," says Darrell Adams of Snookie's. "Every bar that's tried to open on Wednesday has asked that question," adds Adam Salazar, bartender at Seven, Nikita and Medici. Both conclude with a frustrated "I don't know."

Matthew, poet laureate of Dallas nightlife and front man for Jaden's, among others, blames the lack of midweek revelry on America's work ethic, forged during the mighty industrial revolution and torn asunder by bloated unions. From this perspective, Wednesday is the one day reserved for responsibility. "You can get away with going out Thursday," he explains, "because you can fuck off Friday." On the other hand, Mark Giese, bartender at Tom Tom, impugns our polarized geography when discussing the midweek slump. The day, he says, carves Dallas crowds into small, aimless groups roaming the bars without purpose. Sherry Maddox at Nikita accuses those who first laid out the calendar so many centuries ago. "Wednesday is like a weird lost day," she points out. "The service industry's weekend is Sunday and Monday. For real people it's Thursday through Sunday." Wednesday fits somewhere in between.

Yep. Gregorian monks, the American worker, even the vengeful Almighty conspire against the unfortunate day. Many people referred to a time when Wednesday was reserved for church activities. "God said don't drink on Wednesday," slurbs Misty, slamming back vodka at Sense. "So you go out Thursday, Friday, Saturday..."

So answering this week's question proved more difficult than naming the true winner of the 2000 presidential election--and more important. After all, whether we voted for Al Gore or Karl Rove, the country managed to survive somewhat intact. Our midweek doldrums, however, cripple the local economy.

"It's really hump day, and you have to get over it," says Tim Tremoni, manager at Shade. "If you push, a bar can break even."

Sure, a handful of people hit area nightspots on Wednesday. Spike draws the largest crowd, and establishments in the dreaded vale north of LBJ Freeway fare pretty well, too. The rest merely hang on or hope a few drink specials will lure wandering lushes. Steel, for example, offers cut-rate sushi and martinis. Shade declared Wednesday "ladies night." Blarney Stone, Snookie's and other places slash beer prices.

But to no avail.

"It's not about specials," says Kevin, drinking at The Quarter. "It's about where the crowd is going."

Ah, so that's the deal. We started off by mentioning the few bold pathfinders--guys like Magellan and Yeager--willing to risk dismemberment or an evening alone at a quiet bar. The rest of us prefer to follow when it's safe.

Dallas reveres a crowd. We bounce from place to place in search of a group we consider somehow hip or in the know, thus the city's reputation for fickle nightlife patrons, willing to abandon a favorite locale when a new haunt gains popularity with the in-crowd. In other words, as Sam, a staff member at The Quarter, points out, people don't venture out on Wednesday "because nobody's told them to yet."

Yet our research suggests generating a midweek crowd is not beyond reason. Spike already fills up nicely, thanks to persistence and the 12 Inch Pimps, an innovative group of DJs who not only reach a popular audience, but also promote each client establishment. They built Nikita's "Naked Sunday" mob over a period of several months. Hump Day at Spike required an equally extensive investment.

"Dallas is like an old dog," says Kevin Willoughby, one fraction of the 12 Inch Pimps (and marketing guru). "It does not learn new tricks easily, but once you train it on a weeknight, it responds."


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