Tuesday evenings are not usually a nightspot's liveliest or rowdiest, but when you invite the deaf and hard-of-hearing crowd, all bets are off. Or so it seemed at 8 p.m. on a recent Tuesday at Oyster Bay Brewing Company.
“I’m a competitive guy,” said Bradley Porche, standing under an awning out front, with a laugh. The relatively new executive director of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, seemed pleased with the turnout for the new monthly event, which is already drawing over 100 players an evening, both hearing and non-. “Every time we get together, we notice that it’s growing,” Porche said with the help of his interpreter, Toni Nuccio-Kretzmer. And while most of the trivia night crowd comes from the nearby Mill Neck Manor community, Porche guessed that many more of the Island’s hard of hearing residents would enjoy participating if only they knew.
Inside, just past the massive silver tanks leading to the tap room, tension and excitement bordered on chaos as players gathered around tables, alternately swigging beer and nodding at the sign-language interpreters on hand to help the evening run smoothly. Chris Geymayr of Tango Time Trivia was near the back with sign-language interpreters, explaining that the brewery’s TV screens, normally tuned to professional sporting events, would tonight be broadcasting PowerPoint slides asking things like “What is the name of the proposed Act that was passed in the Senate this year to make U.S. Daylight Savings Time permanent?” (Answer: The Sunshine Protection Act.) Geymayr distributed answer sheets, adding that the bar’s lights would flicker on and off when time was up, and that he would tally and keep track of the scores.
“It did not take much advertising, and zero convincing, to get them in here, rowdy and ready to answer some questions,” Porche said. “I never thought we would be able to do something so special so soon as a company.” Tango Time, which is just two years old, successfully stages dozens of trivia nights at Long Island bars and restaurants each week, although Geymayr acknowledged that the Oyster Bay competition is still a work in progress. (Later that evening, upon learning that a “name that image” question had been unfair to some attendees who are both hearing- and visually-impaired, he vowed to do “name that smell” instead at the show’s next installment, on Dec. 14.)
Their pregame info session now over, the interpreters fanned out around the room, among them Toula Ramey, Mill Neck’s director of development and communications. “Tango Time was incredible with accommodating our needs for the setup,” she said, adding that the same was true of the brewery. “What they typically do is very different from what they are doing this evening.”
As if to make the point, bartender Carlos Morales pulled pints and proudly demonstrated a newfound proficiency at signing “hello,” “you’re welcome,” “beer,” “pumpkin” and other terms. (At Mill Neck’s apple festival in October, the brewery sold school-branded cans of its popular pumpkin ale, with proceeds going toward Mill Neck.) “It keeps getting better and better, and more comfortable and more comfortable,” Morales said. “We embraced it.”
And then there was player Loretta Murray who, by her own admission, really loves to win at trivia. (Actually, her words were “you bet your life.”) And though the Bohemia resident has not won at Oyster Bay, at least not yet, she insisted that beating her personal best second-place finish is only part of the draw month after month. “I love coming to trivia nights, and I love the fact that it’s accessible to all,” Murray said. “Anybody can come here and enjoy it, and have a drink or beer and a pretzel or whatever else they want to have.”
Hard of hearing trivia nights are held monthly — the next one is 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 — at Oyster Bay Brewing Company, 36 Audrey Ave. in Oyster Bay, 516-802-5546, oysterbaybrewing.com. For more information, visit the Tango Time Trivia on Facebook and Instagram.