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Bar exam


Pop quiz: Where can you test your knowledge and share some drinks? Trivia night at local bars.

Luke Atkinson January 18th, 2011

During the week, bars seem to have something missing from their social life.

There aren’t a ton of people who need a late drink on a work night. They tend to prefer other things, like sleep. Tuesdays, sandwiched between the beginning of the week and hump day, are especially difficult days to draw in a crowd. Kyle Davis, a manager at La Luna Mexican Cafe, 529 Buchanan in Norman, sought a way to fix this by bringing in something to engage patrons and to encourage sales.

Davis introduced a trivia night in September 2009, along with the eatery’s new late-night hours. While Davis said he wasn’t the first to think up trivia, his idea may have been the first of its kind for the area. Based off of another bar, The Vista (closed indefinitely in Norman’s Financial Center Building), he hoped to challenge his guests and foster an interactive atmosphere.

“The Vista had the trivia you played on TV screens with a remote, you know, but that wasn’t very engaging,” Davis said. “I started looking around and getting some ideas for formats.”

Davis rambles through about 70 questions each Thursday night at 10 p.m., ranging from current events to those requiring some obscure knowledge. There are rounds of guessing, and the top three groups take home cash prizes or gift cards. There were 14 teams at the bar’s first game of the new year, six of which Davis said are regulars.

It gives people an excuse to go out instead of watching “The Mentalist.”

—Patrick

“It’s fun, I get to stand up there with a microphone and act really smart,” he said. “I feel comfortable in the environment. I try to write good, challenging questions. We try to keep the categories fun and fresh.”

If Thursdays aren’t the night for answering questions, then maybe The Abner’s Ale House, 121 E. Main in Norman, could help. It hosts a trivia night at 9 p.m. each Tuesday, and offers prizes to the best team name and trivia winner.

“Our customers were looking for something to do on Tuesday night,” said Shane Ballou, bar manager at the pub. Between Pint Night and Burger Night, the bar didn’t have a Tuesday attraction. “Tuesday nights weren’t a great bar night. Three or fours months ago now, we started doing trivia.”

Ballou said his goal is to create interaction between other patrons. Between each round, teams must grade each other’s papers, resulting in some nods or handshakes and the occasional high fives and thumbs-up for knowing an answer (like being able to recite the words to Nelly’s “Just a Dream”).

“I’ve seen and played a lot of trivia, and I think the customers really enjoy the game,” Ballou said. “Trading papers gives our trivia something different, gives interaction. And business is good.”

I get to stand up there with a microphone and act really smart.

—Kyle Davis

Another Tuesday night venue more in the driving range for Oklahoma City dwellers is the 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 N.W. 51st, where Oklahoma’s satirical blog The Lost Ogle helps queue up the queries.

The Speakeasy’s trivia is a combination of topics with some Oklahoma flair tossed in. TLO’s Patrick said you could answer a question about South American geography, then “Jersey Shore,” followed up by one about Mathis Brothers. So, what’s the prize?

“Cash, baby! We pay $75 to first place, $50 to second place and $25 to third place,” Patrick said. “If we have more teams than usual, the Speakeasy will even throw more money into the pot. They also give a free appetizer to the team that sticks through and finishes last.”

The Speakeasy’s trivia begins at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, but Patrick suggests arriving 10 to 15 minutes early for a good spot.

“Bars and clubs usually don’t have a problem getting people to come out on the weekend, but the middle of the week can be a different story,” Patrick said. “That’s why they have activities like trivia, bingo or even, ugh, karaoke on weeknights. And not only does it give people an excuse to go out on a night where they may just stay at home and watch ‘The Mentalist’ on DVR, but it’s something fun to do, too.”

 
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