Hey Fangirls! You’ve got Victoria AND Kristen here – over the past month, we both took our fangirling into the field, specifically, to the bars. We wanted to share our experiences with you and how we found them to be a really fun and worthwhile extension of our fangirling, especially since neither of us are big drinkers!
In the weeks leading up to when Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out, I found out about a pop up Sith/First Order-themed bar called The Dark Side Bar through a TimeOut newsletter (by the way, city-dwelling fangirls, TimeOut is a great resource for cultural goings-on in your city! I mean, it led me to a Star Wars-themed bar, so obviously it’s quality). I decided to make a night of it – I’d go the bar opening weekend ofThe Last Jedi and quite literally pregame my movie-going experience.
I grabbed one of my ride-or-die friends, Erica, and we bought tickets both for the bar and the film for the Saturday evening of opening weekend. The bar sold tickets for 2 hour slots, and the $33 admission price included two drinks, which in LA, is actually a good deal. The entire experience was a blast – the bar was housed in the Chinese Theater (which you may remember from my previous post) and walking into the dark, red-lit bar with the Imperial March playing felt akin to getting on your favorite ride at Disneyland.
The bar was decorated dark and sleek, as if some turned off the lights on a First Order ship and threw a party. We received drink tokens to use to get two smoking (literally) Death Star drinks. It wasn’t long before a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader himself joined us in the bar and a burlesque dancer made an appearance too! My highlight of the night was when I was at the bar getting my second Death Star cocktail when Darth sidled up beside me to order his own! Not only were all the meticulously Sith-themed details a ton of fun, the energy in the bar felt liberating too. Everyone there was a fan, so there was no need to feel bashful about asking Darth and the Stormtrooper for pictures nor did you need to feel shameful about geeking out over all the decor. Again, I’m not a big drinker, so for someone going primarily for the novelty and atmosphere, I totally feel like I got what I paid for.
Our two hours ended, and we headed straight to the theater to watch The Last Jedi. Visiting the Dark Side Bar enhanced watching The Last Jedi for me; it added to the hype of the film and immersed me in the world before my viewing experience! Plus, the Instagrams were awesome! I’d definitely recommend doing an experience like this in the future if it comes to your city/town (the Dark Side had locations in LA, DC, and NY), specifically before/after seeing a movie from the franchise to bolster your experience!
I participated in my first bar crawl with the Wizard and Wand Harry Potter festival in Raleigh, because when you want to go out drinking with college friends, why not go as fellow graduates of Hogwarts?
You may have heard about some of the issues surrounding this particular festival. The swag and specials were a bit of a let down but all in all, I had a good night out with friends! And honestly, that’s really what the Harry Potter is all about!
The best part was seeing all of the other people and crowds in Harry Potter costumes and fan gear. In fact, as my roommate pointed it out to me as we were driving into town, I replied: “Yes! These are my people!”
It was also a great primer into the local bars of downtown Raleigh, which was partly the goal of the festival. What better way to introduce a new crowd to new restaurants and bars by throwing a themed crawl to encourage you to check them out? Our first stop to check-in was Isaac Hunter’s Tavern — which could be a stand-in for the Three Broomsticks or another pub in Hogsmeade. From there, we checked out Coglin’s — which is definitely more Muggle-themed, with an air of retro 80’s decor and plenty of Ghostbusters stickers on the walls. At Coglin’s you could check out some fan gear shops and be “sorted” into a house for a randomized drink ticket — thankfully, I was reaffirmed as a Ravenclaw!
We ended up passing on the third bar, which offered your complimentary sample of butterbeer. By the time we got there, the line was wrapped around the building, so we decided to find someplace else for our next drink instead. (Rule #4 is always in play with fan events, but possibly even more so when free drinks are involved!)
While it seems like the crawl’s organizers may have overestimated the turnout and the sheer size of the Harry Potter fans in central North Carolina, I’m optimistic to what they’ll try for next time. Before the crawl even happened, Wizard and Wand started to plan on a multi-day festival in Raleigh next year, opening it to families as well. If they’ve learned well from their Hogwarts students, they’ll have an opportunity to make this experience bigger and better — and as Jo herself has said, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
And so I’ll be there, with a full glass of butterbeer in hand.