Cafe 227

Friday, September 15, 2006

My New Favorite Pittsburgh Bar: Belvedere's

So when I went to Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend, my dear friend Alayne introduced me to a new bar: Belvedere's.

We actually started the night at Brillobox in Bloomfield. Apparently, there's this burgeoning hipster/punkster/artsy scene in some of Pittsburgh's eastern neighborhoods - Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, East Liberty, etc. Brillobox appears to be ground zero for Pittsburgh's nouveau intelligentsia on weekend nights. (Of course, being from Brookline, I had no idea places like Brillobox existed. Instead, I just assumed everybody in Pittsburgh spent their weekends like they do in Brookline - i.e., by donning their Zubaz, Merril Hoge jerseys, and Starter jackets, moussing up their hair, and heading out to the local bar to dance the night away to the sweet tunes of Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.)

After about 30 minutes at Brillobox, a large group of us headed a few blocks away to Belvedere's in Lawrenceville.

Now, imagine a typical yinzer neighborhood bar. Now, imagine it on steroids. That's Belvedere's. There are two rooms - a small, wood-paneled front room packed with yinzers where the actual bar is located, and a cavernous back room where assorted hipsters were having a little dance party. The two groups never, ever intermingled - which is kind of an allegory for Pittsburgh itself. But this place is hipster paradise. The whole scene screams "irony" - right down to the prominently-displayed sign behind the bar advertising the bar's MySpace page.

I went straight to the bar and ordered 2 jack-and-cokes and 2 PBRs ($1 a can). The grand total? $8. (By comparison, $8 would buy me half a martini at Oya.)

My next stop was the dance room, which resembled a VFW hall after a particularly festive lenten fish fry. The banquet tables that usually take up most of the floor space were pushed to the side to make room for the hipster dancers. One of the tables actually had an American flag paper tablecloth:


The DJ was actually spinning some pretty good old-school hip-hop and R&B, deftly navigating between the likes of Bel Biv Devoe, Kool Moe Dee, and Prince. The hipsters were dancing their asses off, and not necessarily to the beat of the music. I think Ecstacy was involved. One woman (who was ostensibly there by herself) kept twirling around like she was preparing to whack a pinata. This continued until she got bored, at which point she decided to use the support pole in the middle of the room to simulate the dance maneuvers of a stripper.

At some point, I switched from jack-and-coke to good old 'Ahrn City. Alayne, who was feeling especially creative that night, decided to turn my empty bottles and cans into art:


After about 5 or so 'Ahrns, I had to make my first trip to the bathroom. I was thinking about tagging up the bathroom wall, but I was dissuaded by the following sign, which was hanging next to the urinal:


(Seriously, could a sign like this ever be posted in a city other than Pittsburgh without an eventual lawsuit?)

I eventually had enough 'Ahrns in me to wow the hipsters with my Michael Jackson moves on the dance floor. After about 2 hours of dancing, 10 'Ahrns, and 8 trips to the graffiti-free bathroom, it was time to go. But next time I'm in the 'burgh, there's no doubt I'm going back - I wouldn't want to miss the complimentary pig roast:

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