Stay online long enough, and you’re bound to end up in a listicle. It really came as no surprise to the folks at Room 220 that our events ended up this week on Buzzfeed’s list of the Top Ten Places to Get Literary and Drunk in New Orleans, put together by the folks at the Tennessee Williams Festival. After all, most of our Happy Hour Salons last more than three hours, with the actual readings taking up just a fraction of that time—with booze on hand at requested-donation prices, members of the audience (and many of the organizers) tend to be pretty sauced by the time we wrap things up.
But while it’s true people get drunk at Room 220 events, we were the only spot on the list where there’s really anything to do but drink! Every other entry is a bar—the Carousel Bar, of course, but also the Maple Leaf (where they have a long-running, albeit often mediocre, reading series; it’s also Dean Pashal’s favorite place to write), Molly’s on the Market (where this year’s crop of authors from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program insisted on going their last night in town, even though they’d been there two previous nights and had polished off a bottle of absinthe earlier in the evening), and Backspace Bar and Kitchen, to which we’ve never been, but it’s apparently “a haven for writers, readers, and anyone who appreciates the smell of rich mahogany and leather-bound books” (it’s also run by the dude who owns Rick’s Cabaret; we’ll stick with the smell of rich libidos and leather-bound asses, thank you very much).
Finn McCool’s Irish Pub made the list, apparently because of its trivia nights, but we were disappointed to see the listicle neglect to mention that the Mid City bar is the setting for a completely decent Katrina memoir, Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead by Stephen Rea.
We couldn’t help but notice that two of the bars included—the Saturn Bar and the All Ways Lounge—had hosted Room 220 events last fall (a party for the Oxford American and the launch of Unfathomable City, respectively). Though neither venue is a total stranger to lit events, we’ll go ahead and assume responsibility for upping their bookish cred (and apologize for our contribution to St. Claude gentrification; surely at least a Brooklyn lit dork or two will see the list, check out the places on it during a visit, “fall in love with the city,” and decide to reallocate the $1,000 a month he spends on a broom closet in Greenpoint toward a spacious one-bedroom down the street from Booty’s).
Really, though, as the list’s introduction states, “the best sauced up mingling takes place in the city’s private salons.” This is true. The gamut of underground literary happenings in New Orleans is wide and multifaceted, from elaborate annual book club processions that mock (or honor?) the Stations of the Cross to secret literary séances we don’t really even know for sure exist (and if we did we’d never tell). As listicles like this and the onslaught of thousands of other articles continue to open up New Orleans’ hidden corners to anyone with broadband (which, sadly, leaves out lots of New Orleanians), these secret gatherings will become increasingly important … until, of course, next year brings us Buzzfeed’s Top Ten Weird Living Room Gatherings Where People Get Literary and Drunk in New Orleans.
The internet is ridiculous.