Last time we left off with one heck of a condition: “unless you need to use the bathroom, get out there and keep hydrated!” Now anyone in their right mind would do their best to avoid a bar bathroom, but let’s face it – nothing goes straight through a concertgoer/bar-hopper like beer. Inevitably you’re going to have to drain the main vein, especially if you plan on staying out until closing time.
Austin is known for its bustling downtown nightlife and reputation as one of the hardest-drinking cities in the United States (reaching the number one spot according to Forbes in 2008). So it’s no wonder everyone has a different answer when asked about the most memorable bathroom experience. Sure, you could be a wet blanket and trot down to the Driskill, but then you wouldn’t be getting the full Austin music experience! After digging through discussions on the Austin subreddit and polling members of Sip Sip as well as Cactus Café bartenders, we’ve compiled a list of a few bars and venues that have taken “Keep Austin Weird” to an olfactory and – dare we say – far-out level.
Have you been longing for a scent that combines whiskey, stomach acids, stale beer, and sweaty two steppin’ – all contained within four walls? If you’re in search of that honky tonk aroma, the facilities at the White Horse are for you! This open-minded environment welcomes any and all contributions to the trough – bonus points if it’s “Hold Your Friend’s Hair Back” night.
At Yellow Jacket, the staff wants you to feel like you’re at the bar even when you’re not. With walls made of plywood, you won’t have to worry about missing a minute of priceless bar banter – you can hear right through them! Who needs music when you can listen in on an inebriated argument over children’s cartoons? (Allegedly Raphael is the coolest Ninja Turtle, but to each their own).
We all know that in Vegas “what happens here stays here.” But where’s the fun in that? The folks who designed Hotel Vegas made sure that their bathrooms were higher in elevation than the rest of the bar. As a result the bathroom ambiance tends to overflow onto the dance floor, although don’t count on seeing any soap or paper towels (Hotel Vegas is a firm believer in DIY when it comes to proper hand washing techniques).
If you didn’t know, the word “Mohawk” originates from the Mohican term for “Bear Place People.” This music venue has taken their name beyond just the stuffed grizzly by the bar and has tried their best to replicate a bear cave in their restrooms. If scratched-up mirrors and clogged drains come off as too rustic for your tastes, the Mohawk has provided port-a-potties to accommodate your outdoor needs!
HOLE IN THE WALL
The most illustrious bar on the Drag wants to hear what’s on your mind! With a smashed mirror (which we assume is a clever allusion to Black Flag’s Damaged) your eyes will naturally gravitate to the graffiti-riddled walls – where some of the most astute conversations have been archived in these rooms over the years. Do you need some new music to listen to and want to impress your hipster friends? Hole in the Wall has a plethora of unknown band stickers to help you out!
Are the graffiti messages at Hole in the Wall not hoity-toity enough for your urbane interests? Then make your way to the intimately lit bathrooms at the Grand! While you stand in rust-tainted water, you can admire all the upside-down crosses and personal references to your mother that line the walls. If you’re lucky enough to go when an over-amplified live band is performing, you’ll be treating all of your senses to a piece of paradise!
Still not satisfied with the local graffiti? Especially if you’re a New York transplant, then Plush is the place for you! The hard working interior decorators have taken a snapshot of an NYC subway – graffiti, smell and all – and replicated it here in Austin for your convenience. Their minimalist aesthetic negates the need for a divider between the urinal and the toilet, so don’t be modest!
Fancy an extra challenge when nature calls? Due to the arrangement of the bathroom at the Jackalope, if someone snags the urinal closest to the door, you’re blocked off! While you soak in the sweet smell of Fireball you can either attempt to squeeze past them (bathroom etiquette is such a 20th century construction…) or contemplate how the floor never seems to stay dry (we’ve seen a few theories floating around).
Like surprises? If you’re a fan of unexpected guests, you’ll love when the door flies open a couple of feet away and people with their dogs try and talk with you – all while you do your business!
Much like the Grackle and Plush, St. Roch’s is an advocate of breaking down the conventional barriers of societal norms. Their ongoing social experiment of placing a urinal directly to the only sink without any kind of separation is a must-see!
While we couldn’t take the time to fully describe the artistic eloquence of each establishment, we’d like to mention a few other restrooms that strive to keep Austin weird: Peckerheads, Liberty Bar, Chupacabra, Red 7, Long Branch, Side Bar, Dirty Bill’s, Barfly’s, Blind Pig, The Whip-In, Shakespeare’s, Barbarella, and Beerland.
Of course, like everything else in Austin, there are hipsters that will tell you about how much better the scene used to be. The old Emo’s found its way into the Onion and puts the current establishments into pungent perspective. Folks will gladly regale with tales of Emo’s interactive performance art piece – which involved filling the communal trough with ice – as well as the desire to soak your body in alcohol to complement the bathroom’s fine fragrance. Those were the days. We’ll smell you later.
– Jack Anderson