Aspen Princess: Trying to find the life at night in Basalt ain’t easy | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Princess: Trying to find the life at night in Basalt ain’t easy

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

A few weeks ago, some friends who live in Aspen invited us to join them for some live music at a hot local venue in the midvalley. This was an exciting prospect: staying awake later than 10 p.m. and socializing with friends who we have sorely neglected since the 2-foot tyrant took over our lives.

We have officially become those people I used to hate, the ones who can never do anything fun and always have these tedious excuses that do little to justify the ever-predictable rejection.

Still, when you don't have kids and are still living a ski bum life in Aspen where your biggest concern is catching the last Hunter Creek bus, I get why it's impossible to understand why your midvalley friends never want to do anything, ever.

Like, until you've experienced it for yourself, you're never going to understand what it's like to have a kid who wakes you up before dawn to play with his monster truck. There is no babysitter in the world who's going to help you out with that.

Seeing as you still live in the land where it's normal to pay more for a handcrafted cocktail than you would for an entree at El Korita, you also might not understand how parents of young children can get buzzed on half a beer, drunk on two and sick on three. Just like we can't imagine skinning up Aspen Mountain at dawn, we're just as out of shape when it comes to boozing. Getting out of drinking shape sucks because the margins between a pleasant buzz and a nasty hangover becomes way too narrow.

Don't get me wrong: The idea of actually wearing one of the 600 outfits in my closet that are collecting dust is extremely appealing, as is the promise of putting on a pair of pretty shoes that aren't made by Ugg or Sorel.

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That is why I responded to the invitation with an enthusiastic, "Yesssss! Mamma needs a night out!"

Our friends, bless their hearts, felt that we needed to be prepared.

"If you're going to go, you have to be really up for it," he said. "It's going to be super loud and super packed, but you're probably going to see everyone you know."

I tried to remember everyone I know. Was that a lot of people? I was pretty sure I had lost track of most folks outside the yoga studio/preschool drop off/Whole Foods continuum.

"Yeah, last time we were there, the line at the bar was so long we didn't even bother trying to get a drink," she said.

Rather than say, "That sounds awful," or, "Are you trying to talk me out of it?" I nodded and maintained my game face. What's a good hair day if you had no one to share it with?

When we pulled into the parking lot at 9 p.m. I noticed there were a lot of open parking spaces. Had the midvalley discovered Uber, I wondered?

When we walked into the venue, the place was pretty empty.

"They just finished the first set," our friend said by way of explanation.

We did see a few people we knew — heading for the door. "Have to go relieve the babysitter," one said, practically breathless, as if his Subaru Cross Trek was about to turn into a pumpkin.

"I think this is a first-set-and-done crowd," I whispered to Ryan as we strolled right up to the empty bar to find a bored, grumpy bartender. I was pretty happy about this, as the idea of standing around an empty bar without a drink sounded even less appealing than standing around a crowded bar.

I decided to get crazy and order a cocktail. One strong drink might be a better call for the narrow window that is my good buzz. They served it to us in tiny plastic cups, like the ones they give you for water at soda fountains. I sipped it thinking I should order Moscow mules more often and surveyed the room.

It was definitely an older crowd. Like, maybe people had invited their parents because they were in town for the holidays? I saw a lot of gray hair, and people old enough to stand idly and just watch, as if it were a parade or a tennis match and not live music. I saw women my age who made me wonder if I looked as old as they did and at what point in your life dressing sexy goes from being fun to a little tragic. I don't know about you, but I took out my belly button ring at least a decade ago.

Despite the fact that I myself am pushing 50, I couldn't help but think at least half these guys looked to me like someone's dad, like someone who should not be stumbling drunk, or have their shirt buttoned wrong, or be sweating like that. Never mind the old man with a walker who cut right through the middle of what I guess would normally be considered the dance floor. Or the Keith Richards look-alike dressed in leather pants and cowboy hat who looked like he had just escaped from the assisted-care facility.

I began to giggle and then laugh uncontrollably, leaning on Ryan's arm so I wouldn't fall over as I clutched my stomach.

"What, do you think you're wasted?" Ryan asked.

I nodded and laughed some more, my cheeks beginning to ache.

"You probably have a sugar high because there's almost no booze in these drinks."

"Yeah," our friend said. "I can't believe they charged us eight bucks for these."

A geriatric dance party with weak drinks served in plastic cups pretty much sums up the nightlife in Basalt. No wonder we never go out! The most happening spot is still Whole Foods, especially when the rotisserie chickens go on sale.

The Princess's heart will always be somewhere in Aspen. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.

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