Adults looking for a comfortable place where they can enjoy affordable drinks along with culture, nostalgia, dancing and games in a French Quarter hangout for locals can hit the mother lode at Gold Mine Saloon (701 Dauphine St., 586-0745).
Owner Dave Brinks, whose family has owned and operated the bar for three decades, says the Gold Mine is a place where the over-25 crowd can hear a variety of music genres, dance, listen to poetry and play classic arcade games. The bar is only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and Thursday night is set aside for readings by local and nationally known poets, followed by an open mic for singers, lesser-known poets, songwriters and performance artists. Those performances are broadcast over 10 television sets and the big-screen inside the bar.
Brinks is a poet and teacher who for years has produced poetry workshops and forums inside and outside the city. The shows at Gold Mine have attracted such notable poets as Andrei Codrescu, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anne Waldman, John Gery, Biljana D. Obradorie, Maxine Cassin, Jose Torres Tama and others.
"[Bar patrons] have really been receptive," Brinks says of the poetry nights. "I've had amazing people here. In the past few years I've been doing so much with poetry, developing shows, working with painters ... it just never occurred to me to do it here. It's people who come and pour their hearts out. They're really celebrating being alive, and everyone can identify with that." In addition to displaying a single painter's work during the poetry readings on Thursday, Brinks also reserves a wall at the front of the bar on which he displays the works of an artist for several weeks at a time. Currently displayed are paintings by artist Daniel Finnigan. Friday and Saturday nights, visitors are treated to music of their choice -- Brinks delights in special requests that he fills from a vast CD collection -- dancing on impulse, shooting pool, or playing old pinball and video and games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Joust, Centipede, Frogger, Sex Tester, Sea Devil and others, all of which Brinks repairs and restores himself. "It's kind of an art for me to keep them running," he says. "Many are over 25 years old; they are kind of museum pieces. Everyone who comes in has their favorite game." To make the nostalgia even more poignant, the walls are covered with signed concert posters, many of them from local shows. "The thing that's always been good for this place is it's always been a staple for people to come to when they come to the Quarter," Brinks says. "The music goes from salsa to country to jazz to pop, whatever people want to hear. There really isn't any format." Although Brinks says he does get some tourist traffic, most of his customers are locals who have visited the club for years. "It's the best-kept secret and local joint for people to come (to)," he says.
Whether you need a special costume for Mardi Gras, a new outfit for a special occasion or an affordable alternative to your current wardrobe, Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587) has a solution that won't damage your pocket book.
The store sells used and vintage apparel, wigs, lingerie, jewelry, shoes, handbags and more. Customers who want a change of pace can exchange their current wardrobes (or just an item or two) for cash or store credit that then can be used to buy a seasonal costume or anything else in the shop.
"Many people, during Mardi Gras, want the store credit for a new wig, gloves or whatever," says owner Sarah Wheelock, "but you don't have to use it right away; store credit is good anytime. They also can get cash." One side of the store is dedicated to women's clothes, and a large room for men was added during an expansion last year. "We've probably quadrupled the volume of men's clothes and costumes," Wheelock says. "It gives a good option to men who don't want to spend a lot on clothing or want to swap out their wardrobe for something different." In addition to previously worn items, Funky Monkey carries new fashions from makers such as Dollhouse, Dickies, Zoom and other New York lines. During Carnival, Funky Monkey has extended its hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Home Run for Good Works
The LSU Tigers and Southeastern Lions will tap the plate at Zephyr Field at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Classic, named for the student athlete who died unexpectedly of a heart condition in July 2002 at the age of 21.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (522-5555) or at Zephyr Field, Louisiana State University or Southeastern Louisiana University. Proceeds will benefit the Jefferson Parish Recreation Department, Camp Summer Tribe, LSU Scholarship Programs and Sisters Servants of Mary.
- Gold Mine Saloon owner and poet Dave Brinks stands behind a flower-bedecked podium where poets read their works on Thursday nights.