By John Hanley
Sunday afternoon can be slow and lazy for many, but during the summer, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for the college crowd. If you’re fortunate enough not to be in summer school, it’s easy enough to hit the bar on a weekday or a Sunday. Radio Bar was certainly bustling this past Sunday during the kickoff to their annual season of Radio Bar Olympics, sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Bringing their own definition to the phrase “Sunday Funday,” the bar hosted a sort of tournament involving several two-person teams, four games, and two $25 Radio Bar gift cards as prizes. The patio-esque design of the bar allowed cool summer evening breeze to sift through the visitors and competitors as they overcame their beer buzzes to win out against other teams.
This Sunday marked the first of a monthly series that has been a tradition at the bar for about three years. Four games—Ping-Pong, darts, shuffleboard, and corn hole—are played by a maximum of 16 two-person teams in a bracket style system. Previously, the teams were four players each, but the bar modified it to two to help things run more smoothly, and this time around there were only right teams, helping things to move a little faster. Each team slowly progressed in the ranks of each game, earning points for every round the way (the higher the round, the more points). The team with the most points overall, which turned out to be “Eddie Is My Spirit Animal” this time, wins two $25 Radio Bar gift cards.
“Eddie Is My Spirit Animal,” composed of teammates Gretchen Kelso and Mike Castillo, is named after a Radio Bar patron named Eddie that effectively worked as their hype man (or their “cheerleader” in the words of Castillo). The duo of competitors had participated in the Olympics before, and said they were confident in their skills.
“We play these games all the time,” said Kelso. “We’re kind of an unstoppable team.” She added that they were sad to lose the game of Ping-Pong, which is a specialty of theirs, but they did manage to win the final round of darts, and thus take the win for the night. “I was pretty confident we were going to win anyway, or at least first or second,” added Castillo. “We play a lot of Ping-Pong and darts so I felt like we had those in the bag.”
The series has been fairly successful since its conception, and, on top of bringing in some good business for the Radio Bar, it offers something fun and refreshing to combat the typical bar visit. (Bars are a nice place to drink and visit, but why not play games and maybe win prizes while you’re at it?) Kelso says they’ve had other similar events as well, like Ping-Pong tournaments, and Kelso herself has hosted the Olympics before.
“I think [the Olympics] are a great idea, especially because all these neighborhoods are getting so much more construction and people are just investing a whole lot more in Mid-City,” said Kelso. “So, I think it’s a good excuse to get people out and to meet each other. And usually, when I describe this event, I tell people it’s 25 percent gameplay and 75 percent shit talk.”
The bar was well populated this past Sunday, but bartenders at the Radio Bar say they expect it to grow further as the series progresses, going off of previous years. Of course, the crowd gradually dissipated as competitors were cut from the ranks and headed home or elsewhere, but the games still are a great way to spend a Sunday evening. And, even if you lose, it’s still easy to stay, talk, drink, and enjoy the atmosphere.