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Sunday, May 19, 2024

I didn’t straighten my hair, I didn’t wear heels, and I rolled up on a road bike — in a miniskirt. Most important, however, as I got ready to go out in Midtown, I tried to remember that I was once the prom queen. It was high school, but it counts for something, right?

I have dabbled in the Midtown nightlife scene a few times: a friend’s birthday at 101 Cantina, happy hour at O!O Garden Grille. But I’ve never experienced Midtown fully. I’m much more a downtown person, mostly because I live there and the Later Gator is too damn cold at night, but also because it is generally under the dominion of fraternity girls and sorority boys — wait, what? Frankly and seriously, though, I really like running into people I know, so everyone hugging their brothers and sisters right and left just makes me jealous.

To do it right, I, the downtowner, enlisted help from a Midtowner to show me around and point me in the right direction. Point, she did. Armed with a list of all the deals, specials and tips, I began my night at The Swamp Restaurant, intending to make my way west down University Avenue.

The Swamp Restaurant

It was during my first trip to the bathroom that I came face to face with the Midtown my mind had anticipated. “I <3 FRAT,” was written, in what would be 500 point font on Microsoft Word, on the back of a bathroom stall door. But overall, Swamp is fun. There is some breathing room, friendly servers and a louder-than-life jukebox that played “Gangnam Style” — prompting my this-is-awesome, time-to-party attitude. I ended up staying far longer than I planned.

Balls

I met a man the other day who told me 11 years ago he met his wife at Balls with a tap on the shoulder and a $10 bill asking for a drink. I can now blame being forever single on maximum occupancy laws and the bouncer who enforces them so damn strictly.

The Grog House Bar and Grill

My first thought was: What do they grill? My second thought was: Ugh, stairs? The rest of my thoughts were clouded by my increasing grogginess. I have to admit: My fondest moment of the entire evening transpired at Grog. Song-acting (gesturing the main idea of each line of a song you feel strongly enough about to animate) the entirety of “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” by Fall Out Boy, with the whole bar made my irritation with all the previous songs melt away. Cue the high school nostalgia.

Lines on Lines on Lines

When I was 5 years old, the lines at Disney pissed me off. So you can bet that by the time I left Grog, promise of everlasting anything could not convince me to get back in another line.

The thing about Midtown is that it’s too damn small. Every bar is face-smushed-against-the-subway-glass cramped, and there is one sidewalk. How is one supposed to strut, stumble, spit, spill and puke when there is only one slab of concrete to conquer, and you’ve got to share it with half of UF?

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The truth is, my Friday night ended at a quaint bar called The Midnight — downtown. Oops, at least I tried.

Read the review of Downtown here.

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