Bar A is A-Okay!
Bar A, short for the formal and kinda stupid name of Bar Anticipation, is perhaps the most famous bar in New Jersey. Found in Lake Como, formerly known as South Belmar, Bar A serves as a rite of passage for anyone growing up in New Jersey and, unfortunately, those from New York as well.
For those who have never been, let me explain the appeal of this place. First of all, the bar is HUGE. Between a cavernous interior with a large and always packed (with guidos) dance floor and a sprawling outdoor section, Bar A has a spot for everyone. If you get tired of being in the cramped and loud indoor part, you can make your way outside and find a quiet place to sit down. Oh, and there are probably at least 20 different bar counters, so you never have to wait long for a drink. It is definately the kind of place you’d wanna spend a hot, sticky New Jersey night.
Despite the above things going for it, and the hundreds of people who crowd into the bar each weekend, Bar A is still reviled by many people. Sure, they complain about the $10 cover charge (which is understandable) and the costs of the drinks (which can be a tad on the more expensive side). On top of that, people often take issue with the clientele. Sure, the bar gets its share of guidos, cougars, and thugs, but that just shows how Bar A is welcoming to all groups of people. Just keep your distance from whichever group you’re not a part of. Unless, of course, you’re trying to get with a guido, cougar, or thug.
This past weekend, I organized an outing to Bar A. One friend was dead set on not going, saying that she had never been there and never would go. Apparently, the threat of encountering any guidos was a little too much. I tried to explain how every group keeps to itself and that I’ve never seen a single fight or skirmish. Maybe that’s just because people don’t want to get thrown out after paying the cover charge. Or maybe it’s because Bar A is such a magical place where people of all backgrounds can get along. Or maybe I just don’t go there enough.
Whatever the case may be, I explained to this friend my strategy for getting the most out of Bar A. This advice can be applicable for anyone skeptical of the bar as well. First of all, never go to the inside part. Unless you’re looking to hook up with an older divorcée well past her prime or want to risk ending up on the wrong end of a guido fist pump, go straight to the outdoor entrance. Never set foot inside, and you’ll be safe.
When arriving there on Friday, I made sure to follow my own advice by staying outside the whole time. This was my first visit to Bar A of the year, and I was surprised by a couple changes made to the bar. Firstly, there was a little tattoo station set up. Though it looked real, I assume (and hope) they were only fake tattoos. The other new feature was a bunch of private cabanas on the bar’s sand volleyball court. In the middle of all these cabanas was a dance floor right on top of the sand. Interesting.
Now I know some people will be surprised that I’m such a cheerleader for Bar A. Sure, it does have its downsides, but these just end up making for a more memorable night. For instance, I’ll never forget one of the few times I was inside and saw this guy grinding against this 50 year old woman, who then ripped off the guys shirt. Or the time the bouncers didn’t let this big guido in because he was wearing a wife beater and then was forced to buy and wear a dorky Bar A polo shirt just to get inside. So, while the bad reputation Bar A has may be well deserved, this just makes it all the more entertaining. And all the more representative of the Armpit of America.
Even though it’s made some changes for this summer, Bar A is still the same as ever. While it’s not perfect, I can’t imagine not spending a few hot and sticky nights there each summer. So if you’ve never been, I highly recommend checking it out at least once. You may love it, or you may hate it. You’ll just be joining in on the longstanding debate: everyone has an opinion about the place. As for my opinion of Bar A? It wouldn’t be summer, or the Jersey Shore, without it.