Years ago when we were just wanna be juvenile delinquents, we would sneak into bars in the neighborhood and while we could usually count on being tossed out on our ear occasionally we would be permitted to stay and drink if we remained in control of ourselves and lied politely to the barkeep. Yeah, respect and lies…combined with beer and no drivers license kept us in the neighborhood for most of our shenanigans. But soon even the kindest of bartenders had to close. And as the Tomahawk or Boomers closed their doors along about 2:30 AM… The Starlight Lounge would open for business.
The Starlight Lounge appeared each Summer night just like Brigadoon. Always in the same place, the old Fruitland Elementary School Playground. Rather ironic, when we had finally reached an age to dread being seen around playgrounds during the daytime, we returned under the cover of darkness like overage ghosts to haunt the same spot on those Summer nights so long ago we were just trying to grow up, trying to experience our adolescence. The Starlight Lounge catered to the very Young Boys of Summer (about 15-19 years old) and their flock of would be admirers. It was kind of like a rough bunch of Frankies and Annettes gone goofy and a just a little pie eyed. Not pretty.
But we all thought it was too funny and so cool. What with the boys and their summer ball games won or lost they just wanted to play at being grown up and very cool for an evening. So the bars would close and the boys would cage some older guy to buy the beer for them as always and off we’d go to the Starlight Lounge. Where the laughter and jokes I’m sure can still be heard echoing along about 3am. You just have to listen to your heart, they’re still there…all those old laughs and freaky funny incidents from those long ago summer nights. The Starlight Lounge…what a place…we were such desperadoes…yes, we were “legends in our own minds” and that’s ok. Your supposed to be at 15,16 or 17. It is what they mean when they talk about having the time of your life.
This all puts me in mind of a friend of mine who was out drinking in one of these places one adolescent evening ( at Dugan’s on West 58th) when a customer of the bar was banned and thrown out of the bar and he got into his car and ran it through the front swinging doors. Well at that point all the barflies hit the floor, but our Brave Beauty was the first one back up on her feet calling for a refill. She claimed she’d never needed one so badly. Hell, they weren’t “legends in their own minds” they are LEGENDS and I love them and they make me laugh so.