Club Nights

Club 404

Being single on Valentine's Day is like being an orphan on Christmas: It sucks. The entire city turns pink, communication is degraded to sappy messages on little candy hearts, and everyone else is getting flowers at work. In other words, it's a legitimate excuse to get tanked.

Lone wolves can find refuge this Tuesday, February 14, at Club 404 (404 Broadway), where Movie Night promises to be as unromantic as President's Day. And even if you do manage to scrounge up a romantic partner, the regular Tuesday special -- very generous $2 you-call-its -- should guarantee a cheap date.

Bartender Jaymie Largent has been serving up Long Island iced teas and greyhounds at this classy, 54-year-old dive for the past six years, and Tuesday nights are her busiest by far. That could be because of the drink deal, but it could also be that the collective unconscious of the indie rock scene has somehow hit on the 404 as an accessory as essential as leg warmers and Chrome messenger bags. "It's like 5,000 23-year-olds in here," she says. "They're all having fun, and nobody's fighting." Largent toiled away in corporate America until she turned thirty and decided that the button-down life wasn't for her anymore. Now, sporting a lock of hair that's dyed pink and a shirt that reads "I Wish You Were BEER," she's content pouring stiff drinks and rambling on to her many loyal customers.

Maneuvering through the packed bar on a Tuesday night is good practice for either being really rude or extremely polite. But the crowd is friendly enough not to intimidate, and the majority of the people here all know each other by name, anyway. It's like Cheers -- but in a cult-movie kind of way. And every Tuesday, some cult movie -- chosen by Largent and ranging from Natural Born Killers to Blade Runner to Valley Girl (February 14's selection has yet to be made) -- screens on the 404's massive 62-inch plasma television. "I try to pick ones with good soundtracks," Largent explains, "because I don't really get to watch the movies, and I get tired of hearing people talk."

She laughs as she says this; drink specials, free movies and hip crowd aside, the amiable bartender is reason enough to keep coming back. "A lot of the time the kids who come in here aren't treated very nicely by other people because they have a Mohawk or whatever," Largent says. "So I try to be friendly and learn everyone's name. I treat them like people."

And that's more important than any tacky valentine.

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Tuyet Nguyen