The first time I attempted to enter the bar on 11th and avenue A that would become like a second home to me, I was nineteen. It was the summer of 2007 and Angels & Kings was celebrating the birthday of founder Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. The tiny, dark, hole in the wall bar hardly looked like the kind of establishment that should be hosting such a star-studded event. Wentz was dating none other than Ashlee Simpson at the time, being that this was the height of their success, many other notables were also in tow. The bar was jam packed, myself and a couple of other obvious under agers were outside pawing to get in. My accomplice, a deranged girl even younger than I was would not take no for an answer.
We were unsuccessful that night, but it was not long before AK became our haven. Host to our magnificent nights of teenage drinking, and cater to my lust for every attractive boy who came my way, it provided the perfect atmosphere for both. Luckily my makeshift ID which consisted of a scanned passport print out with the date changed, was enough to appease the grubby bouncer who took a feel at every female who passed through the door. Tuesday nights became something of a ritual there, the party was called Trainwreck Tuesday’s, open bar brought in a happy clientele and favorite 90’s music streamed, bad decisions were made.
A regular crew formed, many included musicians looking to network with industry folk, and females looking to “network” with musician folk. Many of which probably not a day over 18, if that, you could never really trust anyone you met there was the age they claimed to be. The bartenders everyone knew and loved Jessie and Betsy provided comforting familiarity, once I became a regular no one thought to question my age, or simply didn’t care to. This sunken trove truly became a personal Cheers bar, where everybody knew my name. As time passed and the bar had been shut down once or twice, the open bar deals disappeared, a scanner was instated to ward off the teens, and Tuesday nights became barren. The day the bartenders were both let go I knew things had taken a turn for the worst. Bouncers came and went, I befriended and became well known to them all. But the one man who stayed through thick and thin, from the beginning to the end was Filipe, the flirty Mexican bar-back who swept up broken glass like no other. I will miss him dearly.
When I look back on the five years worth of frenzied nights I spent at Angels & Kings I see a whirlwind of memories. I see the night of President Obama’s acceptance speech; I see appearing on the cameras of The Real World Brooklyn, St. Patrick’s Day drinking with Drake Bell. I see the last night I ever spent with my friend Chris Brightmann before he drunkenly drove from the bar to his death. I see getting punched in the face by my arch nemesis, and punching a few others myself. I see performing fellatio in not one but both bathrooms, I see throwing up more times than I would like, and kissing more people than I can remember. I see a rush of faces, brief excerpts of conversations, laughs, music and friends. It was the bar I loved to hate, but did not think I could go without. Without fail I found my way back every time.
This bar housed not only memories, but also turning points in my life. I experienced in five years what most could only hope for in a lifetime, enough good, bad, and ugly memories to fill the pages of a book that I hope you will someday read. The closing of Angels & Kings marks the end of an era, as if closing some important chapter and starting fresh. So here’s to the nights we felt alive, I can only hope the next chapter remains just as interesting.