by Clint Burgess
In this little burg, too often local legends have a way of springing forth from a nonexistent well of exciting happenings and deluded imaginations. Still, one local hangout of legendary proportions was my destination on Saturday evening, and its fame is anything but make-believe. In search of some down-home fun, I decided to explore a bit of Spokane folklore.
The Baby Bar was an iconic nightspot back in the late '70s. Wild tales of a rampant drug scene and some real, live convictions for drug trafficking all flowed freely through this hangout. Evel Knievel, a regular, spent many nights entertaining the ladies and spinning yarns to the clanking of cocktail glasses and the buzz of the biggest big fish stories around. The bar was also a meeting spot for local media big wigs to get loaded. All of these personalities were carefully supervised by a bar mistress of epic proportions named "Reba." Alas, this all came to a fizzling end long ago, but the spirit of the Baby Bar -- the legal parts of it, at least -- was rekindled a year ago, and this weekend was the grand celebration of the Baby's rebirth. I spent an hour driving around looking for the place and trying to coordinate a posse, finally cruising in around 12:30 am.
The Baby Bar is tucked into a tiny little space directly behind Slick Rock Burrito, across the street from the Davenport Hotel -- and I mean tucked. The narrow hallway that led back to the bar was actually quite spacious in comparison to bar area itself. The atmosphere, however, was bustling. Scenesters lined the bar stools, friends and acquaintances mingled in the hallway and everyone was feeling the alcohol. The birthday bash was being celebrated with 50 & cent; Pabst, and the innumerable empty cans littering the place were evidence of the good times being had by all. (At one point, I think there were more empties than patrons.) Small satellite tables provided plenty of space to drink and chat. A comfy bench seat that spanned the entire length of the bar made a good spot for cooling out and listening to tunes on the bumping sound system.
The Shirkers served up their brand of rock 'n' roll to festive onlookers. Because the bar couldn't accommodate even their minimal setup, they put on their show over at Slick Rock. All the while, cake and salmon made for some tasty morsels and celebratory bliss. At the Baby Bar, fortunately, nostalgia turned out to be more than just a stab at long-since-forgotten glory days. The place is jumpin' once again.
Publication date: 12/11/03