A short walk away is an arcade bar designed to make any ‘90s kid happy. Up the block is a brewery, a tap house, and just beyond that – tacos. Further west on Lagoon Avenue are streets of drinking establishments with small dance floors and rooftop bars. A rite of passage for the singles set, Uptown offers a variety of ways to get wasted and meet members of whichever-sex-it-is-that-you’re-attracted-to.
But the question you must ask yourself at the end of the night is: was it worth it?
The James Ballentine VFW – Post 246 is the unassuming hangout of many a hipster in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood. Before I moved to the Twin Cities, I visited the original portion of the Ballentine with my single lady friends. It was a tiny space with enough wood paneling to make you forget you ever left the ‘70s (or your parent’s basement). The drinks were cheap, the karaoke singing oddly on key (for the most part), and the odor of popcorn machines mixing with traces of yesterday’s when you could smoke indoors.
Now, the Ballentine VFW boasts a second (larger) sports bar area, with the “Old Main” hidden in the back, like a secret, for those who have heard of it. The Ballentine honors the new veteran and its Uptown clientele, and the new tastes and events that they want to attend: Taco Tuesdays, two-for-ones, burlesque shows, live bands and DJs, and of course – cheering for your favorite Minnesota sports team. It has an event space where the Dance Agenda show took place last Saturday, and where it also hosted a voter registration drive and debate watching party during last year’s presidential election. In summation: this place is versatile.
The apartments behind (above, around) the Ballentine have carried on the modern aesthetic of the luxury lofts in Uptown Minneapolis. With all that it has to offer, the wood paneling and linoleum floors that still exist within this updated social space reflect the neighborhood’s own history – and make it feel a little bit like a multigenerational, multifunctional home rather than just another nightlife hot spot.
A good house party will, of course, have its crashers. A few attendees wanted to sneak in through the back, either on their own or behind one of the opening DJs. As I had my ID checked and inner wrist stamped, I found the bouncer was having none of that. Potential patrons stumbled into the event hall throughout the night, lured perhaps by the sounds floating out onto Lyndale Avenue, but when told what the show cost they turned themselves towards the “no cover charge” crowd at the sports bar, while others deemed it worthy of their cash to try out the event.
A jabroni drunkenly shouts to his buddies, “my iTunes could do this,” and “I’m not f***ed up enough to enjoy this.” I thought to myself, “But good sir, you’re here, perhaps at the behest of your bros, but nevertheless you’re here – enjoy the party. There’s no need for negativity.”
EDM shows have been, at least for me, some of the most positive shows I’ve attended. I was particularly excited for this one because it was my partner’s first time at an EDM show, live and in color. We former band geeks discussed the mathematical precision of the music and the atmospheric changes that went along with it. They noted that the video backdrops, set to the music and its transitions, helped them see what each DJs vision was for the evening.
“They were really cool.”
Cross>over and Diagenetic started the night off as the early crowd rolled in. Before he took the stage, I asked Leo Himself, DJ and organizer for the Dance Agenda event, what the exact line up was for the evening. He would be playing next with Chris Blackburn, followed by Theology and Aznpersuasian as direct support for the headliners Genix and Sunny Lax. Thanks to social media, via Facebook fans could watch Genix’s videos of the two DJs traveling together since the week before, playing shows in the nation’s capital. That city, like the dance hall on Saturday night, became hot and humid as the night’s journey went on.
Between the accents and their set, Genix and Sunny Lax helped transport me back in time –almost to the day – to five years ago. A heady remembrance of paying a visit to the London nightclub, Fabric, where I dropped a few more pounds (£) than I had intended – but I am happy to have done it. I mean, the floor moved to the music. Moved. As in, vibrated to the tracks being played. It was more fun than the club in Piccadilly, with multiple levels and rooms with different genres, maybe because in Farringdon the rooms of Fabric were all EDM-based with their music selection. That genre is about “the life” and the contagious energy it creates.
You could see that same good vibe at the Ballentine VFW in middle of Minneapolis. Everybody bounced when the beat dropped in Uptown, even my partner who normally doesn’t like to dance in public. People were dancing, jumping at the bar because of their hype-ness. It was almost like they begrudgingly removed themselves for another drink – which I must say, they received with prompt and courteous service.
Let’s see an iPod do that.
Article by Jessica Helmers, Social Media Writer for Dance Agenda.
Jessica is a ‘90s kid History nerd who transplanted to the Twin Cities in 2014. Her interests include: tuneage, tacos, and social justice. Contact: jhelm4845@gmail or follow on Twitter (@messicah).