Ten Best Drinking Clubs
Alcohol consumption comprises one of the basic foundations of social organization, so it’s natural that the “smashed” left would turn to it in seeking to counteract George Bush’s right-wing agenda. Conversely, bringing up politics in a bar in this country – unlike anywhere in, say Latin America or Western Europe – is considered the kiss of death. The Greensboro chapter of Drinking Liberally takes on the task of reconciling the two realms. The group meets every Thursday evening at the Green Bean. “You don’t need to be a policy expert and this isn’t a book club,” they promise. “Just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it’s not taboo to talk politics.” Contact Ritchie Rozzelle at 704.578.7289 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Beard & Mustache Club of NC
“The first rule of the Beard & Mustache Club,” founder Andrew Dudek told me, “is if you think it’s a joke, get out.” The club meets every first Tuesday of the month (that’s tonight if you’re reading this hot off the press) at 6 p.m., upstairs at M’Coul’s. Although alcohol is not included in the group’s stated mission, they do meet at a bar and presumably drink there. “Having a beard, you can sometimes be discriminated against,” Dudek says. “A lot of people don’t like them. If we all unite, we can change the perception that they’re dirty and ugly looking.”
G-Spot Hash House Harriers
Advertising themselves as “a drinking club with a running problem,” the Greensboro hashers employ semi-obscene pseudonyms and obscure terminology. Their pastime involves drinking “at the beginning, throughout and at the end” of a course, explains Angela Stever, AKA Rapunzel. “Some people are hares and some people are hounds,” she says. “Somebody will lay a trail using flour, with, say, fifteen minutes of lead time. The rest of the group follows behind.” Rapunzel and partner Insecticle will be hare-ing for the next event on Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, before they decamp to Fort Lauderdale. To sign up or learn more, visit gspot.beernear.com.
YES! Weekly girls’ night out
The female employees of this newspaper, with honorary “girl” Kenny Lindsay in tow, typically reserve Wednesday evenings for drinking copiously and dishing on their place of employment. They’ve been known to throw down at Box Seat, McPherson’s and Café Europa, but the location is a moving target. The YES! Weekly girls may be “geeks,” as MC Benton James alleges, but Classified Manager Rachel Brear also likes to point out that they’re good tippers.
“Where three or four are gathered in my name there’s always fifth,” goes the slur against followers of the via media, members of the Episcopal Church – also sometimes identified as Whiskeypalians. My friend Liz Seymour and I – she a lapsed Episcopalian, me an active member in good standing – were peeling potatoes one evening in the kitchen of St. Mary’s House on Walker Avenue for a Food Not Bombs meal when a young man walked off the street to join us. Upon learning that St. Mary’s House was an Episcopal church, he asked, “Isn’t that where people sit around with big mugs of beer and talk about Scripture?” Seymour and I looked at each other and shrugged. Contrary to expectation, there appear to be no Episcopal drinking clubs in Greensboro. When I asked Greg Knight, ministry assistant at St. Mary’s House, about this, he responded, “No, but we ought to start one.”
Tapping Into Theology
Whereas Baptists and their evangelical fellow travelers generally frown on alcohol – an exception: a glass of wine on one’s wedding day is permissible, or so I’ve heard – most mainline Protestants typically take a permissive view of booze. Communication Director Ann Alexander confirms that.
Greensboro’s First Presbyterian
The church hosts a program for young adults in June called Tapping Into Theology, in which members will meet at Solaris every Wednesday after work to discuss current topics from a Christian perspective. They may order a glass of wine or beer with their tapas. Alexander makes a point to mention, however, that Presbyterians substitute grape juice for wine during communion services.
Theology on Tap
The ever-helpful Greg Knight notes a trend in some Catholic dioceses: “Theology on Tap.” A February 2006 Washington Post story describes how the Rev. Daniel Hanley takes the bandstand at Pat Troy’s Ireland’s Own in Arlington, Va. and begins to pray aloud. Here merge two venerable traditions. “Drinks are refilled and laughs are shared,” the correspondent reports, “but lest there be any doubt about the setting, the Catholics crammed into the smoky bar are intensely focused on the message. More than a few are taking notes. One man spends much of the evening with his eyes closed, fingers intertwined in prayer. A young woman weeps.”
Okay, so 336 is not really a drinking club. It’s primarily a website – 336events.com – that strives for the most comprehensive listing of events in the Piedmont Triad. They also host social events, such as Winston-Salem’s Business After Hours at 6th and Vine in Camel City, where hipster professionals met to network on April 25. See, places where young strivers meet to network tend to be places where people drink. If there’s a reason for people in the Triad to get together, 336 Events may well be facilitating it. If there’s not an event already planned and there needs to be, likely as not the young turks at 336 will work with you to make it happen.
The corner bar
Oh right, all North Carolina liquor bars are statutorily defined as drinking clubs. Scour the statutes and you will not find any language about bars being eligible for “mixed beverage permits.” Bars, my friend, fall under the rubric of “private club,” defined as “an establishment that is organized and operated solely for a social, recreational, patriotic or fraternal purpose and that is not open to the general public, but is open only to the members of the organization and their bona fide guests.”
Yes, occasionally some of us do come to the end of the line. While drinking tends to serve as a social lubricant, the irony is that the strongest bonds are apparently forged by those who have put the bottle aside. The AA program seeks to facilitate both social and spiritual repair; among the 12 steps are turning one’s will and life “over to the care of God,” making a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of oneself, and making direct amends to those harmed by one’s alcoholism.