Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tourist Tuesday: The Hideaway

I, oddly, always wished I was born in an era where people dress up for cocktails. I love the Roarin' Twenties, knees showing, flapper dresses flying. There was both a formality to entertainment and an irreverance. Entertainment came, in some form or another every night. Now, except in rare cases, the place has become the entertainment itself, and long lost are the days of getting dressed up to go out for the evening. No one (other than Vance Thompson) seems to get dressed up and go out for a spin anymore. And yet, the Hideaway, on Arsenal, just east of Hampton still exists.

I came across some notes I made in the spring for a piece for stltoday.com (and never got around to writing), and I decided it made the perfect Tourist Tuesday suggestion. It's not tourist-y, but it has all the symptoms of being a place we don't usually go to, and one which we overlook for its obvious grace. The Hideaway is a throwback, straight-up, a piano bar that perpetually has a sign up saying "barmaid wanted". Barmaid. They have an older man and an older woman who play the piano and sing-- on weekends, usually together. She likes showtunes, and sings a fine dandy about seduction.

The place is bathed in red, and one of the first things you notice before entering is they have a dress code, allbeit a lax one, but it's posted. It's also posted in the entry, as well as behind the bar, "no profanity". Ah, class, and standards. I told you it's a throwback. Each seat at the bar has its own ashtray and its own little crocheted red placemat. When I mentioned this to my mom, she remembered all kinds of places she went to while growing up that offered these little luxuries.

My favorite part: there's a disco ball and small dancefloor. And if you're lucky, any one of the half dozen older couples that inhabit the place will be up dancing. And when I say dancing, I mean dancing for all it's worth: without a care in the world, in total joy of one another. It's beautiful, and though I don't dance, it makes me want to get dressed up every time and it makes me wish I would.

As tourists, we're looking to encounter new things, find new places, and discover some local color. Along the way, most of us want to find out something about ourselves. This Tuesday, I can't think of anywhere better to recommend.

5900 Arsenal (645-8822)

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