Read Across Lawrence brings kids to the bar

Something you probably don’t see every day: thirty kids, in a bar, without their parents.

That was our day yesterday at the Sandbar.

Our friends at the Lawrence Public Library are hosting Read Across Lawrence, an annual community reading event, and this year’s selection for kids is “Turtle in Paradise.” The book is about a turtle who heads for Key West, and the hurricane of 1935 is featured in the book.

Read Across Lawrence includes educational events to go along with the book, so, naturally, it made sense to hold an event at the Sandbar. Where else in Lawrence can you find a little bit of Key West, and a lot of hurricanes?

So yesterday, about thirty kids got their first taste of the Sandbar as they moved between three educational stations and learned about the science behind hurricanes from UKanTeach students.

After about 45 minutes of learning, the kids got to experience the famous indoor hurricane, complete with the cheesy video and napkins flying through the air.

This might be the cutest thing ever:

Once it was over, the kids got a souvenir strand of beads to take home with them.

A funny thing that happened: as he got his beads, one kid asked Dave “can I have a mustache?”

Dave and I looked at each other in a bit of shock. “How does he know about mustaches?” we wondered.

But we just got the box of mustaches and started handing those out, too.

Thanks, Lawrence Public Library and parents, for letting us be part of Read Across Lawrence!

More on the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

After the Extreme Barhopping post a few days ago, bartender Danny let me know that he's actually been to the Tonga Room/Hurricane Bar and experienced their indoor hurricane. He meant to report back to us about it, but forgot.

Here's what he had to say:

Basically it was a large, dark, tropically decorated space with seating along the edges, and a large fake lake in the middle. In the middle of the fake lake, along the back wall, there was a little hut floating in the water. For the hurricane, they turned on flashing lights, rain machines, and some thunder sound effects as the floating hut floated towards the middle of the lake, closer to the bar area. The band was inside the hut and began playing cover tunes.


Here's a picture of Danny and his brother enjoying tropical drinks at the bar. Danny said he tried to videotape the "storm," but it was too dark and you couldn't tell what was going on.

However, he searched YouTube for a video and found this one:

Thanks, Danny! If you make it to San Francisco, check the place out and let us know what you think. Our Twitter friend @irishroadman also reported that he's been to this bar, and he said it's decent but expensive. (And he likes us better! Thanks!)

Extreme Barhopping & the World’s Only Indoor Hurricane

Last Friday I was watching TV, and if you know anything about daytime television, you know there aren't a lot of options. I scrolled past a show called "Extreme Barhopping," and when I found absolutely nothing else that interested me, I decided to check it out.

The first bar they profiled wasn't all that "extreme." A speakeasy hidden behind a hot dog joint somewhere in Manhattan. (New York, not our neighbor to the west.) The next bar, though, was pretty cool. Literally. It was a bar, pool and giant hot tub combination on top of a mountain in Squaw Valley. Ski or snowboard in, strip down to your bikini and lounge in a hot tub surrounded by snow. Pretty extreme.

At this point, I was thinking "we should contact the Travel Channel and submit the Sandbar for the show! An indoor hurricane is pretty extreme!"

You probably couldn't guess what happened next.

After profiling a bar with a $100,000 mahogany wood slide for an entrance, the show's narrator then offered up a bar in San Francisco with the "world's only indoor hurricane."

My jaw might have hit the floor.

I don't know how long the Tonga Room/Hurricane Bar has actually had an indoor hurricane. The show never said, and I couldn't find the information online. (I didn't look very hard.)

I can tell you, though, that their indoor hurricane looks nothing like ours. The Hurricane Bar looks very upscale, swanky and fancy. It's in a hotel in San Francisco. There's a pool in the middle of the bar- a "lagoon"- and the bar's orchestra floats around on the lagoon. The bar features "periodic light tropical rainstorms, complete with thunder and lightning."

It reminds me of the Rainforest Cafe. I didn't see anything about wind, which as you know is a prime feature of hurricanes, including ours. It doesn't appear that anyone actually gets rained on during the storm, but I could be wrong.

The place looks pretty cool, and if we ever make it to San Francisco again, we'll definitely check it out. I can say for certain, though, that they are NOT the only place in the world with an indoor hurricane. (To be fair, their website doesn't say this. It could have just been the Travel Channel making this claim.)

Travel Channel, if you're listening, we'd love to have our indoor hurricane featured on your show. Wind, rain, thunder and lightning, and napkins flying around the air is something everyone should experience with 48 of their closest friends.

No Drink For You!

Our friend Chad doesn't dance. We all know this and accept it, even though dancing is somewhat of a requirement at the Sandbar.

On Chad's birthday, he was at the Sandbar. Dave convinced him to get on the bar for the hurricane (he wouldn't wear the mermaid costume, but just getting him on the bar without too much argument was considered a win).

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Even more shocking, considering his disdain for dancing, was the fact that Dave convinced him to stay on the bar during "Car Wash." Sure, he stood there laughing while Dave busted a move, but he was on the bar.

However, Dave was in rare form that night and slightly perturbed that Chad wouldn't even wash the car or spray it down. What happened next is a story we still talk about today.

Dave refused to serve Chad another drink until he moved his arm in the circular "washing" motion. Chad refused. It was a standoff. For several hours.

Chad was thirsty. Dave was stubborn. The blood pressure levels of each were going up.

Eventually, Dave decided that while he didn't want to give in and fill an order placed by Chad himself, he'd make the drink if someone else (meaning me) ordered it. After several hours, Chad had his drink and didn't have to dance for it.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Dave was dancing on the bar (again), doing the Car Wash (again). Chad was standing down in front of the bar, and on this night it was his turn to be sassy. He looked up at Dave, caught his eye and suddenly made the circle motion with his hand.

Dave about fell off the bar.

And now, it's no big deal and we all laugh about it, and Chad does the Car Wash all the time. While wearing rainbow-colored wigs.

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Manly Mermaid in a Miniskirt

Dave spends a lot of time at the bar working, but he spends a lot of time playing there also. Friday night was our friend Michelle's birthday, and naturally shenanigans at the Sandbar were on the night's list.

Michelle wanted to be the mermaid for the 10 p.m. hurricane, but no one else wanted to get on the bar with her. And since there's two costumes, we always think they both need to be worn, so finally Dave volunteered to be the second mermaid.

Unfortunately, he got the short mermaid dress:

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The mermaid dress was more like a mermaid miniskirt on Dave. And of course, no costume is complete without a rainbow wig and shutter shades.

Dave and Michelle did a fine job performing the hurricane ritual on the bar, and after the storm was over Dave led the bar in a round of "Happy Birthday" for the birthday girl.


More birthday festivities will probably happen next weekend, too. Don't forget, stop by the Sandbar on your birthday and get a free tiara as a birthday gift!

Our Magical Digital Portal

I have several different online notifications set up to send me an e-mail whenever there's a mention of the Sandbar online- Google alerts and are two of my favorites. Often, the alerts I get have nothing to do with our Sandbar, but every once in awhile I get something good.

Recently, I hit the jackpot with one of the strangest and funniest Sandbar mentions ever.

It appears that some teenagers in Austin who are interested in various internet and computer activites stumbled upon our webcam. They were so fascinated with this "magical digital portal" into the strange world of Kansas that they dedicated an entire page on their website to us.

Here's what they had to say:

Once upon a time, three friends stumbled upon a magical digital portal into the unknown world of Kansas. Through this portal, the friends witnessed a strange religious ritual centering around an artifact of pure crystal and shaped like a soccer ball. Fascinated by these practices, the friends captured a link to this portal and began using it every week as a cheesy segment in their semi-comedic podcast. And now the link has been placed here for all to see. Gaze in upon the Sandbar and its bizzare events if you dare…But don't expect much, it's not really that interesting.

Obviously, the strange religious ritual they are witnessing is the hurricane show and dance, and the soccer ball-shaped crystal artifact is the white Christmas light hanging in the center of the bar.

I looked around their site for the podcast that supposedly features us as a cheesy segment- I could only find one link to a podcast (click here to listen to it), and it's really long. I haven't listened to all of it yet so I don't know if they actually talk about the Sandbar or not.

We're happy that we could humor some kids in Austin with the crazy things we do in Kansas. When you turn 21, take a road trip and visit us- we think you'll find our bar a lot of fun.