Art, bingo, letter writing — bars are getting creative with weekly theme nights, inviting patrons to do more than schmooze over booze. Here are three of the more unusual get-togethers.
1. ‘BE HERE WEDNESDAYS’
Where: The Velvet Lounge, 10 Woods Corner Rd., East Setauket
When: 9 p.m.- late night Wednesdays
More info: 631-751-4845, velvetloungeny.com
“You don’t see anything like this, anywhere,” says Monique Edgar of Smithtown, who’s dancing with friends in the midst of a swirly, jazzy jam band set on a recent Wednesday night at the Velvet Lounge in East Setauket. There’s an artist slapping colors on a canvas by the stage, painting to the music as a video screen flashes abstract clips of morphing colors. The scene “is full of creative people, doing things I wish I could do,” says Edgar, 27, an essential oils expert. “It’s amazing.”
This is “Be Here Wednesdays,” a weekly free-to-enter bash of arts and music at the cozy nightspot. Musicians get together to cut loose, playing free-form instrumental sessions. Sometimes, DJs or MCs jump into the mix.
“Did you see the guy sitting back there?” asks Regina Mazzarelli, 30, a teacher form Bohemia, pointing to a man staring into a laptop. “That guy is writing a book . . . he comes here to write.”
Not that you need to be an artist to partake. “All souls are welcome,” Mazzarelli says. “That’s what kind of party this is. It encourages you to open your mind.”
2. ‘DRAG QUEEN BINGO’
Where: Mr. Beery’s, 4019 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage
When: 8-11 p.m. Tuesdays
More info: 516-579-7049, mrbeerys.com
The game is bingo — where players use game cards and hope to have the winning combination of randomly picked numbers. But at this particular contest, the caller is a drag queen with an unprintable name who wears a larger-than-life wig and redder-than-red lipstick. She tells jokes and takes playful jabs at players as games unfold. There are trivia questions — and an unusual playlist. “I love the music here,” says Janyce Perez, 23, a special-needs teacher. “What other bar do you hear Nat King Cole at?” Prizes tend to be promotional items like drink holders and T-shirts, but that doesn’t diminish the competitive nature between patrons. “I’ve won four or five times, and the best part is screaming, ‘Bingo!’ ” says events services coordinator Alexa Gold, 23, of Bethpage.
3. ‘PEN PAL NIGHT’
Where: The Cortland, 27 W. Main St., Bay Shore
When: 7-10 p.m. Mondays
More info: 631-206-2220, thecortland.com
Sure you can call, text, email, instant message, chat or tweet anyone from anywhere at any time — but The Cortland encourages a method of communication that’s becoming antiquated: letter writing. The hipster bar has resumed its weekly Monday night party where patrons send mail to celebrities, government officials, prisoners or loved ones. Three sets of stationery and postage stamps are included with each drink purchased. And you’ll have good reason to go back week after week: All mail is return-addressed to the bar, so you might just have something waiting in the mailbox.