I'm rarely carded these days: I'm nearly twice as old as the legal drinking age, and what hair I still have is starting to go gray. So when the bartender at Hai Bar (3600 West 32nd Avenue) asked for my ID on a Thursday night, I gave her such a "Jesus, you know I'm old enough, why the hell are you carding me?" look that she apologized for even asking, explaining that the cops were coming down on bars in the neighborhood and that she didn't want to get fined $1,000 and fired for serving a minor.
I could understand that, especially when I heard from another gal at the bar how she'd been there a few weeks earlier, when two large groups were celebrating birthdays, Hai Bar was packed and a fight broke out. She even thought she'd heard shots outside — but while the fight made the news, she hadn't read anything about gunfire. She asked the bartender about that and got this tight-lipped reply: "If there were shots fired, it was not on Sushi Hai property."
Looking around the stylish, 3,000-square-foot lounge underneath Sushi Hai, I didn't think it seemed like a place that would attract sketchy folks. In fact, on a Thursday night, the clientele looked a bit hipper — and a lot better behaved — than your typical LoDo set. The place was about half full, and Scott Davis was playing an acoustic set of blues.
But when I returned that Saturday, I found a very different scene. A DJ was spinning, and the crowd was much larger. And this time, there was a uniformed off-duty cop working the door, checking IDs, stamping hands and making sure everyone left by 1 a.m., the new weekend closing time. The changes were all in response to neighbors' concerns about the recent fight — but some Highland residents had it in for Sushi Hai before that, even posting an online petition to revoke its liquor license last spring: "We have witnessed a dramatic increase in disturbances and acts of vandalism. These incidents include, but are not limited to: assaults; persistent noise ordinance violations; littering; public urination and defecation; destruction of gardens; beer bottles thrown against homes; trespassing; patrons smoking and drinking alcohol in front of Sushi Hai against city ordinances."
From my two nights at Hai Bar, though, I couldn't see what the big deal was. In fact, the Saturday-night crowds seemed much more boisterous around the corner at El Camino (3628 West 32nd) and across the street at Mead St. Station (3625 West 32nd). If you want to see for yourself, Hai Bar has karaoke on Wednesdays, live music on Thursdays and DJs on the weekend. And upstairs, Sushi Hai has sushi seven days a week.
Club scout: The Westword website lists hundreds of events over Halloween weekend, but here are a few highlights. On Friday, October 30, Suite Two Hundred (1427 Larimer Street) will host the Angel Halloween Eve Ball with a costume contest that nets the most angelic contestant $500 and a trip to Las Vegas. The following night, the venue will feature the Demon Halloween Ball, when the best demonic costume wins $500 and a trip to Vegas. The Manufactured Superstars, a group that's been spinning in Chicago, Miami and Hollywood, takes over Beta (1909 Blake Street) on October 31 for a Moulin Rouge-themed party. That same night, the Triad Dragons crew hosts Afterlife: Halloween Night Massive, in four rooms on three levels of Two: A.M. Afterhours and City Hall (both at 1144 Broadway); nationally known DJs Micro, Baby Anne, Miss Lisa, Kimball Collins and Slynk will spin alongside such fine local DJs as Dragon, Trajikk Hycloud and Ghosh. There's also a costume contest with a $1,000 prize.