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Bright Lights, Cheney Nights

Exploring the diverse and dynamic night scene in Cheney

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When thinking of Cheney’s night scene, the first thing that springs to mind is not a diverse, attractive hub for late night entertainment.

By all means, Cheney is not exactly a glamorous destination to ‘hit the town.’ But the mixture of local live music, a tight-knit area for bar hopping and a nightclub for dancing, the city’s nightlife scene has a number of options for a range of crowds.

On Thursday nights, The Mason Jar transforms from a coffee shop and bakery into a hub for local musicians and various performers to show off their talents. Crowds of all ages flock in to see the cultivation of homegrown talent and enjoy the exuberant, family-friendly environment.

Weekends bring in a different crowd. Walk down First Street by the F Street intersection at night, and the sounds of bass undertones will be reverberating along the strip. Outside the bars, groups of people will be waiting to get in, with others hanging out by the entrance to catch some fresh air.

The presence of police cars hanging out nearby is felt, enforcing the law and keeping the peace.

“For the most part, the police are pretty nice,” EWU alumnus Johnny Mirdik said inside of Eagles Pub.

On the inside, younger crowds of mainly EWU students pack the bars, along with a small, older host of recent alumni and Cheney residents. The sounds of pool balls clacking and scattered chatter fill the room.

For the bold, the underground nightclub, The Basement, is the place for people to get weird. Dim lighting, DJ’s blaring their mixes, cheap drinks and poles to dance set the scene.

All of these spots that make up Cheney’s nightlife are located together within the length of football field, and this past weekend, three Easterner editors joined the scene.

Sip & Sing

On Thursday nights, the Mason Jar, a brunch-style cafe brimming with hipster-chic charm, transforms itself into a bubbling nightlife hub of energy and live music.

The Mason Jar hosts different types of events every week, from open-mic nights and live music, to comedy shows and dancing. These events typically last from 7 to 9 p.m. Food and drinks are offered until closing time.

“[Performing at the Mason Jar] has been pretty fun,” said Joel Crow, an EWU senior who regularly performs during the Mason Jar’s open-mic nights. “It’s a lot more fun when there are a lot of people here like tonight. Sometimes in the past there haven’t been very many. I think it’s cool just to have the opportunity to get away from school and just express [yourself] in various ways.”

Open-mic nights are open to anyone with the courage to stand up and perform.

“It’s a nice constant opportunity once a month to come and play and I enjoy that,” Crow said.

The atmosphere at the Mason Jar’s open-mic nights is one of inclusion, support and comradery. It is less a place for drunken college nights, and more a place to enjoy your friendships, a coffee in hand, while listening to loud live music and basking in the glow of sepia-colored lights.

Whenever a performer ends his or her set, applause and cheers echo through the room. It doesn’t seem to matter whether their performance was good or bad. Everyone, no matter their skill level, is greeted with the same enthusiasm and praise.

“I think it’s cool,” said EWU sophomore Ruben Soliz who performed at the Mason Jar last Thursday. “It’s comfortable and people can just come and not be judged and just hang out. Like, we were just up there being silly and having fun. I feel like it’s a place where you just come and have fun.”

Soliz said he thinks that students should come to the Mason Jar’s Thursday night music events to join in the community and show off their talents.

“It’s a really hole-in-the-wall place in Cheney and it’s kinda fun to come and see the different talents on Thursday,” said Savannah Baxter, an EWU freshman and self-proclaimed Mason Jar regular. “It’s a chic place to come.” (Erin Rebar)

 

Thirsty for First Street

Eagles Pub sits across First Street, away from the rest of Cheney’s nightlife scene. The large bar holds a dimly-lit stage, shimmered with disco-themed lights to draw attention to the passionate karaoke singers performing. The ones who are belting out their favorite song as friends and bystanders share a pitcher of beer and applaud. On the other side of the pub, groups of friends crowd around either one of the pool or ping pong tables while drinking and socializing between each other.

Ryan Jensen has been providing entertainment to Eagles Pub and bars in Spokane for several years now, and he describes the scene of Cheney’s downtown as evolving.

“Night life cycles,” said Jensen. “The last three years have changed. People used to arrive at 8:30 p.m. on karaoke night ready to sing at nine, now the night life people don’t start showing up until 11:30 or midnight.”

Across from Eagles Pub resides Wild Bill’s Longbar. Bill’s narrow room, decorated with taxidermy animal heads and walls of wood siding, helps radiate a country feel. Country music resonates through the speakers.

As the night goes on, students and locals crowd into the bar, recognizing friends on the way to the bartenders for a drink. Guys and girls are snugged into the intimate booths to the right of the room, or kneeling down to play a game of pool in the back.

Neighboring Wild Bill’s is the newest bar in town, Section 13. The calm, modern feel of the low lighted bar brings many locals and students to drink and enjoy the laid back atmosphere. In the back, stairs that lead to a downstairs game room is less crowded with close friends playing a game of darts or pool until the night is over.

Come 11 p.m. and it’s the California-inspired, blue and yellow brightly splashed walls of Monterey Pub and Grub that has become filled with students who are packed together, wall-to-wall and shoulder-to-shoulder. Whether they are singing some drunk late-night karaoke or dancing with strangers to music that radiates throughout the bar, party-goers are ready to make new friends and have some fun.

“[My favorite part] of downtown Cheney is how connected people are,” said EWU senior Kristin Clark. “You go into a different bar and you know people. Cheney is very local.”

A couple doors down from Monterey is a nightclub called The Basement, which is exactly that. Once students head down a dark stairway they enter a shadowy, highly energized dancing escape. In the depths of the club, students get their alcohol fix with shots or mixed drinks to carry with them to a dance floor of high spirits and drunk ambitions.

EWU senior Kayla Willms said she enjoys the bars in downtown Cheney since they always have something to offer.

“My favorite part [of Cheney’s nightlife] is that every day of the week there is a new special,” Willms said. (Kristi Lucchetta)

‘Easy Going Down, Hell Coming Up’

It’s past 1 a.m. at The Basement and things are beginning to get weird. The entrance to the staircase going down is dark, but the thumping of the DJ’s bass gives direction to lead the way. At this point, plenty of alcohol has been consumed by the people below and inhibitions have gone by the wayside.

Pool tables on the upper balcony are lit by overhead lighting, while down below, the dance floor is dark.

Groups of people are huddled on the dance floor, some beginning to move around on the now-sticky floor. The air is sultry with an aroma of sweat and beer, but at this point none of that matters.

“It’s a whole different culture now,” said Ryan Jensen about Cheney’s bar scene. “People used to say we will go to the bar for the next four hours, now people go to the bars for the last hour.”

As Cheney’s only nightclub, The Basement offers a unique dance environment that people tend to go to at the end of the night.

Up by the pool tables, EWU sophomore Ima Robles, dressed in a white cropped tank and high-waisted blue jeans, sits with some friends at a table with her phone in one hand and mixed drink in the other. Robles started her night off elsewhere and ended up at The Basement.

It’s nearing 2 a.m. and bartenders are announcing last call. Crowds begin to disperse, and for some, the night is done, while others scramble to plan their next stop. A small group heads to bar for one last round of shots before leaving.

Bottoms up, it’s closing time. (Brad Brown)

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