I’ve never been a big fan of bars. With the exception of the beer itself, they’re typically filled with loud drunks, dancing, desperate singles trying way too hard and a host of other situations I generally try to avoid. Unless you’re people watching or profiting from tragically overpriced drinks, I’ve just never found a good reason to spend too much time or money there. But slap a pirate costume onto all of that and you’ve got an entire different story.
I’m talking, of course, about the Pirate Pub Crawl, an event in which a chunk of Anchorage loses its better judgment, and sets out to swashbuckle around downtown in order to follow the treasure map to the 12 bars brave enough to participate.
I had been enticed to join the evening with an offer of drinks and a free costume that had already been bought by a friend. However, when I put on the costume I quickly realized that I looked less like a pirate and more like Freddie Mercury dressed up like a pirate. I had to reevaluate my wardrobe choices before we went downtown. After a little bit of work and a beer, I somehow managed to look less like a male stripper and more like someone wearing a cheap pirate costume. Then we set sail for the event.
On the way downtown we saw every sort of pirate imaginable. From half-hearted effort pirates, to those who went all out, we even saw a group that had built an entire pirate ship on wheels and were “rowing” it down the sidewalk — much to the dismay of anyone not participating in the event. We got our treasure maps at McGinley’s and quickly decided that we didn’t need to hit all 12 bars, given that a chance at winning 80,000 Alaska Airlines miles (the grand prize) wasn’t worth a multi-day hangover.
Somewhere between McGinley’s and the Captain Cook my pirate hat became the first casualty of the evening. A sudden gust of wind blew it into oncoming traffic and, quickly calculating that my life was probably worth more than $8, I resigned myself to looking like an out of place gang member with only my pirate do-rag left covering my head.
The two bars in the Captain Cook were participating in the event, something which can’t have been common knowledge given that we saw 10 rich couples trying desperately to have a fancy dinner in the midst of drunken pirate madness. We finally made port at F Street Station for some much-needed food and found every chair occupied by some form of pirate, with the exception of one confused Viking in the back.
We briefly entered the Playhouse, only to find some loosely based pirate debauchery set to the blasting beat of what I can only assume were the last dying remnants of Nicki Minaj’s career. We quickly left for fear of getting too into character as dirty pirates by catching an airborne STD and headed across the street to the Avenue.
Now, I have a love-hate relationship with the Avenue. Normally I’m not a fan of seeing people I know, or large groups of those I don’t. However, I don’t tend to visit the Avenue until late in the evening when social interaction becomes slightly less of a concern, so occasionally it can be fun. I bring this up because the Avenue seems to have the inexplicable ability to force people to run into old acquaintances from high school that they’ve, quite frankly, forgotten about. This effect held true for all of us, which was all the more impressive when one considers that no one in our group went to high school in Anchorage and some were as far away as North Pole and Fairbanks.
Shortly after the Avenue, someone initiated a dead sprint all the way to Mad Myrna’s, which may have contributed to our decision not to wait in the two-mile line to get in. Instead we called a cab, the driver of which seemed completely unfazed by the car full of pirates, and made port back at one of our houses. We, for some unknown reason, concluded the night by making chili and blasting (while singing along to) ‘90s music until the late hours of the morning.
The following day we recovered from a long night of plundering by watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and heading out to a greasy diner breakfast, where we ran into other bleary-eyed ex-pirates who hadn’t even bothered to take off their costumes. If I learned anything from the evening, it’s that Anchorage knows how to party even for a ridiculous concept, and that homework can wait until the wee hours of Monday morning if there’s pirate treasure on the line.