New Year's Eve: Time warp 

Party like it’s 1999 — or 1599 — this New Year’s Eve.

click to enlarge Jose Rodriguez owns both FlashBack RetroPub and The Sanctuary Barsilica. - ALEXA ACE
  • Alexa Ace
  • Jose Rodriguez owns both FlashBack RetroPub and The Sanctuary Barsilica.

Regardless of which of Jose Rodriguez’s bars you enter on New Year’s Eve, you might feel like you’re stepping into a different time.

The entrepreneur behind FlashBack RetroPub, 814 W. Sheridan Ave., Suite A, and Sanctuary Barsilica, 814 W. Sheridan Ave., Suite F, has New Year’s Eve events planned at both locations.

At the videogame bar FlashBack RetroPub, a 1980s-themed party will be in full swing, while at Sanctuary Barsilica just a few doors down, guests will be transported to the heyday of the European masquerade ball.

It’s 1999

FlashBack RetroPub, 814 W. Sheridan Ave., Suite A, hosts a Party Like It’s 1999 New Year’s Eve Bash with doors opening at 7 p.m. and DJ’d music starting at 8:30 p.m.

The “1999” is a not-so-subtle reference to Prince, the electrifying singer-songwriter whose tunes supercharged the 1980s, and the ’80s theme is in full force both in the New Year’s Eve Party and the decor of FlashBack. While the song “1999” was a look ahead at a potentially devastating future, this year, guests will ring in the 20th anniversary of the titular year with the apocalypse as-yet averted. DJ Sirok will provide the music, as he has in past years.

“This is our fourth New Year’s Eve, and we have a lot of returning groups that choose to spend New Year’s Eve with us,” said Rodriguez. “One of the main things they enjoy is how laid-back it is. They can dress nice but don’t have to dress up. And of course they love the ’80s music.”

At FlashBack’s New Year’s Eve, the pub will provide party favors for attendees, and table reservations for 10 are $200, subject to availability. All table reservations include free admission and a bottle of champagne. To inquire about renting a table, email info@flashbackretropub.com.

The cover charge for the evening is $15 per person, and casual dress is recommended. No coat check is available for the party.

Church service

As you might expect at church, the dress code is a little more formal at The Sanctuary Barsilica, 814 W. Sheridan Ave., Suite F. The church-themed bar will host a masquerade ball for masked attendees awaiting the stroke of midnight.

“People can bring their own mask, or we will have masks available to give away,” Rodriguez said.

With the stained-glass surroundings, the masquerade ball hearkens back to an even earlier era than the 1980s; the themed parties date back to 14th- and 15th-century Europe, remaining popular in some format for hundreds of years.

And the music, as you might expect, is slightly different from the ’80s hits prevalent at FlashBack.

“At Sanctuary, the music is completely different; it’s upbeat, more pop, funk, soul music,” Rodriguez said.

The Sanctuary Barsilica also features organ music on occasion, and on karaoke nights, it offers choir robes.

On New Year’s Eve, The Sanctuary offers a front and back patio, named The Garden of Eden, from which guests can watch the OKC fireworks. The bar will also have a $15 cover on New Year’s Eve. For information about table rates, email sanctuarybarokc@yahoo.com. A table for four on New Year’s Eve at Sanctuary is $75; reservations include admission for four and a bottle of wine.

One must-have at both concepts is craft beer. But each bar will approach it slightly differently.

“FlashBack offers over 100 different beers from Oklahoma and surrounding states, and Sanctuary will carry around 50-60 craft beers from national and international breweries,” Rodriguez said.

Expanding game

While The Sanctuary Barsilica just opened this month, FlashBack RetroPub opened in 2015 and is about to get bigger.

The 1980s have been good for Rodriguez, who is expanding FlashBack RetroPub in 2019.

“FlashBack is expanding next door into the old photography studio,” he said.  “We are adding 1,500 square feet to our space, bumping us up to 5,000 square feet.”

The pub currently offers visitors more than 65 classic stand-up arcade video games, including Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede and NBA Jam. Those who want to try their hand at a home Nintendo console can slide up to the bar and grab a controller. Nintendo NES, Super Nintendo, Sega and N64 gaming consoles can all be found at the bar.

Everything from the decor to the fluorescent mixed drinks — including, naturally, Purple Rain — could make a visitor think they have temporarily slipped back into the Me Decade, as TVs play ’80s videos or films like Pretty in Pink and Top Gun.

With the additional space, Rodriguez plans more focus on the pub’s USER Lounge, which provides a specialty selection of rare arcade games for members who pay the annual $99 membership fee.

“We will add more games and tables for people to sit at. We will also move the USER Lounge from the back to the front, doubling it in size.”

Games currently featured in the lounge include Tron, Spy Hunter, Tempest, Paperboy, Contra, Joust and Punch-Out, among others. The rare Tron game, which took Rodriguez years to find, is the inspiration for the name of the lounge, from the film.

“With the added space in the USER Lounge, we will also add pinball machines,” Rodriguez said.

But before all that, the bar will ring in 2019 with its annual bash.

And whether you want to spend your New Year’s Eve going back to the ’80s or back to church, Rodriguez has a concept for you.

“Both concepts are unique in their own right, FlashBack being the first arcade bar in OKC and now Sanctuary being the first church-themed bar,” Rodriguez said. “Both draw attention for different reasons, but at the end of the day, they are just concepts and we have to provide great customer service to keep people coming back.”

Visit flashbackretropub.com and facebook.com/sanctuarybarokc.

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