An Ode To The Piano Bar


The other Friday night, my friends and I were sitting at a crossroads. Our buddy with the downtown apartment had backed out of letting us pre-game at his place before the bars, and the closest other bar scene was sure to be packed full of community college dropouts and 50-year-old cougars. We had almost come to the conclusion that our best plan of action was to get drunk on the couch, pass out and be up to watch the early college football action, when someone mentioned an idea – the local piano bar. None of us had ever been to the piano bar in our town, but we had heard stories, so we decided to give it a chance. It turned out to be a great decision, and the merits of the piano bar became clear.

Great Ratio

The first thing you will notice when you walk in the door of the piano bar, is the abundance of girls and lack of guys. As you scan the field closer, the news will get even better – most of the guys are already wifed up, or at least in a serious relationship with the girl who dragged them here. When you stop to think about it, this makes perfect sense. How many single 20-something year old guys would pick loud piano music and sing alongs over the typical bar scene? Luckily, you’ll probably be too drunk to think about that question.

Right Age Range

The way a typical piano bar works is you write your song request on a sticky note, stick it to some cash, and get put in line. If you want to hear your song played next, you throw on more money than those in line before you. If you want your song played NOW, you stick it on a hefty amount and the piano man will stop mid-song and oblige. Much like a stripper, the piano man performs for the person who pays the most, and everyone else just gets to enjoy the show. As a postgrad with a job, a dollar or two to enjoy your night might not mean much, but it does keep out many of the college age kids who save every penny for booze. Even if you don’t want to throw away money to the live jukebox, it makes it easy to see who the big spenders are and who you might need to be hitting up for a free drink later.


Sure, when you think of piano bars, you think of the music. But a true piano man is so much more than a musician. He is a freestyler, a comedian, and overall, a crowd entertainer. He will bring up the bachelorette to sing her a song about the perils of marriage. He will call you out if you are sitting in the front row and not singing along. He may even spot your friend who has had a few too many to drink, make up a nickname for him, tell the crowd it’s his birthday, and force him to dance on stage in front of everyone. The only time the laughter stops is when you are drinking or singing along, which brings us to the main attraction of the piano bar…

The Perfect Playlist

Piano bars don’t keep customers by playing shitty music that no one knows all night. The typical night’s music selection could be pulled right off of your college party playlist from back in the day. Sure, there may be one or two songs throughout the night that you’re not a huge fan of, but if the song is really obscure, the piano man won’t know it, and it won’t get played. One second you’ll be singing along to a piano remix of “Blurred Lines,” the next you will be reliving your youth with “Bye Bye Bye,” and the finally the place will really go crazy when everyone is screaming “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of their lungs. Throw in a rendition of “Wagon Wheel” that would put Darius Rucker to shame, and you won’t have a voice in the morning.

Should the piano bar become your new “go-to” bar? No, and that goes double for men. But should if you ever find yourself looking for a change in your weekend routine, maybe if you’re in the mood for a melody, just find your local piano man, he’ll have you feeling alright.

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Spend half my life on the road being worked to death, the other half in a cubicle being bored to death. You can find me on the weekends in Uptown

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