Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today
. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On the subject of what there is to do here at night, I've heard this comment 50 or so times in two months: "Well, ever since Levelz closed, we don't really have a scene anymore."
It's a bummer that the floor caved, and it's too bad that the place isn't reopening. But it's not a death sentence for nightlife in Steamboat Springs.
Here's the thing: having a stage, space that's meant for entertainment, lights and a decent PA helps. But for a town to have an active nightlife, or "a scene," those things aren't really necessary. All it really takes is a desire to do something at night other than (or at least in addition to) drinking heavily.
So here's my plea to local business owners: If you've got extra space - or space at all - use it. Have an event one night a week, on an off night.
There are a lot of ways to go at this. I hate to always use examples from my hometowns, and I know I do it in every column, but here goes: Trivia night was the only reason the bar I worked in made money on Monday nights, and the only reason the bar I went to stayed open on Tuesdays.
Karaoke kept the outdoor place crowded indoors on Sunday nights during the winter. One of the music clubs had movie nights and iPod parties when they didn't have touring or local shows booked.
Some of those things are a hassle - karaoke, for example, requires a TV, program, DJ and microphones - but all most of them need is a couple of people on the clock and a little more beer in the cooler.
For those businesses that can afford to stay open through the dead season, there's not much to lose by adding one event a week.
If the crowds are small anyway, there won't be many people to drive away. If you're going to be stocked and staffed, you might as well try something new. And if it works, the results are all positive once people do start filtering in for the season: more customers, more money, something to make your place stand out.
So, what hasn't already been taken? Well, first off, there's no crime in having more than one karaoke night, or more than one open mic night. They're just too trusty for drawing at least middling crowds.
But really, as long as it's legal - something to check out; my place in Chapel Hill discovered there are more laws than you'd think regarding BINGO - the options are pretty much unlimited.
Movie nights, spelling bees, DJs, bands, rock-paper-scissors tournaments, beer pong tournaments, darts leagues, arm wrestling, air guitar contests; I've seen it all, and in a slightly bigger town, it all worked.
With so many things coming down or being bought within the year, it might seem like a waste of time to establish regular events. But there's no better place to build a scene, to make nightlife happen, than a place where it won't ever be the same again.
If it's all coming down anyway, if we're that worried about the town losing its quirky youthfulness, there's no reason not to make things happen on the way out.