All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Be

Posted by on Mar 16, 2011

My best friend was in town on the weekend and we took her to Blu for free music. First, she snapped what could be an award-winning series of photos (her profession), then she let her mouth hang agape for awhile and finally she grinned and told me I had a really sweet gig (don’t I know it!)

She’s an incredible live music fan and was in town to see the Sarah McLachlin concert. I thought it’d add to the weekend to offer up free acoustic guitar 23 stories above the city.

On her various visits over the years, the goal has been to include her in as many signature Milwaukee events, dinners and journeys as possible—without repeating any. So far, I’ve been successful.

Our trip to the top of the Pfister tower was another victory. Ryan McIntyre was the musician and there was just something to the wide open, double door-width entry into the rooftop lounge that made it seem as though they were waiting for us. Though it was crowded, we stepped right into a table as others were vacating it. McIntyre was singing cover tunes and we both unwittingly became his backup singers as we got settled in.

The crowd was a fair mix of people, but many were dressed formally after having just wrapped up the AAA Awards banquet downstairs.

When I first took the job as Narrator, I was asked “how will you talk to people?” I said simply smiling and saying “hi” would do the trick and it’s true. I even used the example “I can talk to anyone, I even talk to people in elevators, even though it’s a norm violation for most.” Well, I’m not the only one.

Warmed a bit by whatever cocktails had been served there, we met a handful of couples in the elevator on our way up. The couples in the elevator approached us! Together they’d been joking and chatting and we walked in on it when we’d joined from the parking garage. Like it was their home, the six of them were very welcoming and as we joked about how they’d brought me flowers (one gentleman was carrying the table arrangement from the dinner), they all bid us a good evening as they jumped off at their respective floors.

That’s why it felt like we were old friends when they turned up at Blu for the music. Teased about having changed their mind about going to bed, one half of a couple—a stunning Lady in Red—quickly corrected me and said “Oh no, we weren’t going to bed…just getting ready to come out again!” The pair were from Ft. Atkinson but as honorees at the night’s banquet, in order to enjoy their stay in Milwaukee, they had also gotten a room at the hotel and were ready to stretch late into the night, and thanks to the Pfister, “all dressed up and nowhere to go” was put to shame.

As the pair chatted with me, it was clear they were in it for the music and I reminded them that the lobby bar included a great crowd and music as well. I have to note here, much later, when my group and I were walking out, parading my best friend see more of the hotel’s glorious details, I spotted the same pair bellied up to the lobby bar. I’d like to say I’m that much of a catalyst for people, but in reality, I think it’s the Pfister that manages its own persuasion.

What was the most thrilling was the vibe of the bar. People moved through and entered with extreme confidence. It felt more like a party than a bar. Rather than a tentative approach filled with “who might be here, who is watching me, is there room?” Blu seemed to be someone’s lovely cocktail party in their home that we’d luckily been invited to. It was a party—it was the hotel’s party. The singer made a point to welcome guests if they weren’t from Milwaukee and as I looked around, you could tell locals from visitors based on the smiles. When the singer welcomed people, it was as though all of us did, heads scanned the room and nodded.

Night life in the city is often reviewed and critiqued and the value of hotspots rotates regularly. The sense you feel in Blu on a Saturday night is that it’s always a hotspot, always evolving with its crowd, and everyone, always, is welcome. Maybe Ryan should write a song about that…

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