Most nights, those heading out to a bar, club or lounge know what is coming — what sort of crowd will be in place, what music is to be expected and what the venue-of-destination tends to feature in the way of themes. However, if a night of the unexpected is more toward your liking, a trip to Montauk may work out nicely.
On Thursday (Aug. 2), the entire town — famous to some for its lighthouse — was bustling. At around 8:30 p.m., the bar crowd was yet to really settle in, but a search for things to do in this vicinity can really pay off — at least it did that evening.
A stop by Liar’s Saloon (401 West Lake Dr., 631-668-9597) revealed a group mainly made up of locals, with the other half of the scene -- summer visitors from NYC and other far-off cities (and other countries) -- yet to arrive. Patrons were relaxing at the bar or playing foosball, and a conversation with the bartender spanned subjects ranging from the packed-house Friday karaoke parties at this dockside stop to its thirty years in business. Mention was also made of a “Full Moon Party” taking place at Swallow East, another Montauk hang, and that it was worthy of investigation.
Arrival at Swallow East (474 West Lake Dr., 631-668-8344, swallowrestaurant.com) revealed an unexpected bash that was a complete original. Plenty of party people were in place for this aforementioned “Full Moon” event, and when asked what exactly this was all about, a staffer revealed the theme was born of nothing more than the commonplace astrological event that shared the same designation. Yes, this gathering was happening simply because there was a full moon overhead. To make this extra-festive, Swallow placed a DJ on its deck, and had the bartenders wearing soft faux space helmets — paying homage to the astronauts who have traveled to the planetary satellite-of-honor. The hostess also shared that “werewolves” were coming later — and although curiosity was high on what that exactly meant, departure was necessary for another special event elsewhere in need of exploration.
There has been some heavy online chatter concerning an enjoyable “Bingo Night” at Ruschmeyer’s (161 Second House Road, 631-668-2877, visitruschmeyers.com) this summer. The crowd at this hotel/ restaurant/ bar/ lounge is usually made up of city hipsters and well-to-do travelers staying with their families, and that indeed held true as a group of people hailing from Manhattan and Brooklyn dominated the scene. However, this competition is open to all from anywhere, and is extremely relaxed (so no need to worry that a local couldn't have fun here) as people strolled in and out of the Bingo bash with ease, playing if desired. The MC (Zach Bliss) called out numbers, and those keeping track flipped the small gates on their cards (appropriately-trendy, aged items taken from some ancient board game or highway rest stop). The first to call “Bingo” was rewarded well, with his prizes a small bottle of ketchup, a plastic Viking helmet and a personal ukulele serenade from a staff member. Further funny stuff and funky tracks from the 60s and 70s were also part of the festivities.
Upon watching this, one fact is hard to argue: there are things happening in Montauk that just aren’t happening anywhere else in the Hamptons — or Long Island on the whole. Some really, really fun things.
(Unfortunately, the Full Moon Party was its first time out, so it’s too early to say if there’ll be another, but Bingo at Ruschmeyer’s takes place every Thursday starting at 10 p.m. with no cover to either play or enter.)
Photo by Gordon M. Grant. Zach Bliss, the “CEO of Fun,” dances for a winner at bingo night at Ruschmeyer's in Montauk. (July 26, 2012)