Pickup Picks

Some questions just seem more important than others.

Who cares, for example, about the status of the Trinity River boondoggle or the merits of a police pay raise? We'd rather find out if Jerry Jones plans to embarrass the city by sponsoring a NASCAR team.

But this week's Burning Question--Where are the best places to go if you're looking to get laid?--is of such great consequence that we must address it on an annual basis. In fact, the Burning Question crew expends an inordinate amount of time and effort researching this problem. Because we scorn the plagiarism-ridden secondary research practiced by best-selling authors, our methodology involves a tremendous amount of...well...hands-on study. We surveyed almost 200 bar-hoppers of all ages, visited each establishment, soaked up enough alcohol to achieve the beer goggle effect several times over, and we're almost certain one of us either offended Mary Higby, bartender at The Bone, or proposed to her.

Or that might be what offended her.

Anyway, our attention to detail seems warranted when you consider the plight expressed so vividly by people like Sara Youngquist, who complained, "If I knew where these places were, do you think I'd be single?" The problem is that crowds descend on establishments on different days and at different times, attracted by a particular DJ, band, atmosphere, drink special or whatever lures mobs of horny people. Martini Ranch, for example, has a hold on Monday-night action, thanks to a long-standing drink special. On Tuesday, the 30-and-under crowd heads to Cuba Libre to hear DJ Ragman and guzzle cheap drinks. "It's extremely packed on Tuesdays," says Garett Bratt, a bartender at the Knox-Henderson hotspot. "We have $3 call on everything but premium drinks. Even Crown is $3." If you survive Tuesday, head back to Cuba Libre on Thursday night. It's a more diverse group, somewhat older and more subdued, but your chances of scoring remain high.

On Wednesday, everyone drives up to Reservoir, a surprising spot stuck on the end of a small shopping strip in far, far North Dallas. People who seldom venture beyond LBJ Freeway willingly trek within whispering distance of the Bush Turnpike just to stand in a long line and wait their turn to enter the hedonistic haven. "The food is good, but that's not what draws people," says host Eddy Villela with a smile. The real draw here is the under-30 crowd, DJ Jimbo, dollar drafts and babes--and the realization that people actually have a chance to have sex on Wednesdays.

And now, the weekend.

"We attract a good crowd, quality customers, and they can't hold their liquor," explains Scott Blythe of Whisky Bar. "It's pretty tempting here." The hotspots on Lower Greenville--Whisky Bar, The Beagle and Milk Bar--each offers a different atmosphere. This first spot draws young professionals. "We get some pretty intelligent people around here, at first," Blythe says with a laugh. After a few rounds, brain cells falter, of course. The Beagle owns a longstanding reputation as a meat market, but bartender Dylan Johnson considers it, well, something of a paradox. "It's about as classed up a hole as you can get," he says. "It's like one big house party every Friday and Saturday." While Whisky Bar is relatively intimate, The Beagle packs more than 700 into every nook, cranny and patio. "If a woman blows you off, there are 300 more to talk to," Johnson notes. Milk Bar, meanwhile, is a dark, loud, late-night spot. "We're not really a destination for couples," explains bartender Angelika Swearingen, "and it's dark, so you can't see the other person's flaws."

Apparently the qualities of darkness and noise greatly assist the pickup effort. Memphis in Addison is dim, noisy--it features a live band every night--and intimate. "It's tough to hear over the band," admits Jay Burkhardt, the bar manager. "A guy can try a line on the woman to the right, and the woman on the left can't hear it, so you have another shot." The combination must work. A woman identified only as Andi claims, "I've never gone there without smackin' down." Burkhardt acknowledges the time-honored role of Memphis as a pickup joint: "We're getting second-generation patrons. I'm starting to serve kids that were probably conceived in this place." The bar fills up between 9 and 10--it is Addison, after all.

Among the best places to get laid in Deep Ellum are The Bone and the Green Room. Aside from being a meat market, The Bone benefits from a subliminal form of association, or, as partier Ashley Manson says, "With a name like The Bone, is there really any question as to what kind of place it is?" The large club pulls in an interesting crowd, mostly young, but with a smattering of people in their 40s or 50s. The older crowd waltzes in between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. The younger crowd packs the place from 10 p.m. on. And then, as Higby points out, "everyone dances, shots get drunk, and they proceed to have fun." As we mentioned, the Burning Question crew, or some members therein, may not be allowed back to The Bone after the botched proposal incident. Yet even Higby admits she's used to that kind of thing.

"I've gotten hotel keys, phone numbers, customers buying me thongs," she says, refusing to elaborate on the thong approach. "That's the thing about guys; they think they're sexy when they're drunk."

On weekends at the Green Room, bartender Bruce Bauman watches guys hit on everyone from waitresses to women clustered at the bar. "They get shot down and shot down and shot down," he says, "and they keep moving down the line." Even the midtown, yuppie, post-SMU crowd gets a bit desperate at times. They also lose all sense of decorum when they visit the Green Room. "We search for dropped wedding rings under the deck; we've caught people doing it in the bathroom; one girl even broke the sink," Bauman recalls.

The remaining top pickup bars are scattered around Dallas. The trendy set drops by Umlaut, downtown. The wealthy slink into Beau Nash. Weekends in North Dallas belong to Carson's, a cavernous establishment featuring everything from live bands to pool tables to big-screen televisions. "There's a lot of everything here," agrees bartender James Hamous. "You have young, old, big spenders, people just looking to hang out; that's the best way to describe it." Otherwise the place is indescribable, a solid mass of predators and peering eyeballs from 10 p.m. on. If you get there early enough, however, you can establish a position at the bar near one of the cash registers, both of which provide a decent vantage of the entire place. "I had a guy pay me $250 to hold that chair," Hamous says, pointing to the seat right next to the Burning Question crew.

We mention this for the benefit of our editor, to establish the credibility of this week's expense report. (Editor's note: Right. Pull the other leg, Dave.)

The Green Elephant sits on Yale Boulevard near SMU, and sure, it's a college bar for the most part. "We're one of the last stops for everyone who goes to SMU," says owner Peter Shriver. But young professionals wander in as well, drawn perhaps by the abundance of hip-huggers. "It seems like it's a competition around here," Shriver says, "to wear the tiniest pants." He's speaking about the female patrons, of course. The Green Elephant attracts a happy-hour bunch and a late-night crowd. Summers may dwindle a bit, but then again, students who party during the year tend to end up in summer school, so...

That answers this week's Burning Question. The best places to go if you're looking to get laid all differ somewhat. Whisky Bar and Memphis look small compared to The Bone, The Beagle or Carson's. The Green Elephant appears improperly casual after a night at Umlaut. So what makes a good pickup bar? "You gotta have nice-looking girls," Bauman says. "That brings in the guys, which in turn brings in more girls. Throw in the right mix of music and alcohol..." and let the games begin.

Just remember the larger purpose of all this action. "Over the years I've seen at least 10 couples who met here and got married," Burkhardt says. "It's not all about getting laid."

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