Wednesday, July 30, 2014

And The Best Night of The Summer Award Goes To...

This past Monday was easily the best night of the summer thus far, and any other night will be hard pressed to beat it.

After work and a brief period of being locked out of the apartment, I headed downtown with Joe and Nikki to meet up with Nathan at The Bitter End. If you've ever been a college student in Grand Rapids you have at least heard of The Bitter End, even if you've never been there, because it is the only 24 hour coffee shop in town.

After my trip to The Bitter End I've decided it is not a cafe you go to because you want coffee, especially when there is a Mad Cap coffee shop within walking distance. I judge the quality of a coffee shop on the quality of their chai latte, and I was not particularly impressed (although the little cinnamon music notes are pretty cute). So if you are looking for a good cup of coffee I would recommend walking the extra mile to Mad Cap in Rosa Parks Circle or trying The Sparrows in East Town.

However, if you're looking for a good place to work then by all means order yourself a smoothie and set up camp. The environment is exactly what I want out of a coffee shop when I am hoping to whip out a final paper or add a few chapters to my current work in progress. 

After a few hours at The Bitter End, we ran to the other end of the "night downtown" spectrum and headed to Stella's Lounge for The Drunken Retort.

(sources top to bottom:

Stella's is my new favorite night spot in Grand Rapids. Good drinks, amazing fries, and supposedly the damn best burger you could ever hope to find. I didn't get a burger so I can't say for sure, but I intend to in the very near future.

But none of those things, or even the fact that they have a Galaga machine (seriously!), are what brought us to Stella's that night. We were there for The Drunken Retort.

"What the hell is The Drunken Retort?"

It is the best thing that I have ever discovered in downtown Grand Rapids.

The Drunken Retort is an open mic talent showcase, dominated mainly by spoken word poetry with some acoustic work thrown in. And I love me some spoken word. I have spent hours scrolling through Youtube watching performance after performance, so finally finding somewhere that holds live shows? Heaven.

If you are looking for the quiet coffee shop poetry night with all the snapping, The Drunken Retort is probably not for you. But if you want to see some amazing performance and are down with some yelling and a whole lot of f-bombs, The Drunken Retort is exactly what you are looking for.

I went up to a complete stranger after the show, which is something I never do. But I'd wanted to talk to him ever since he'd performed. He had performed a poem about his daughter and how she doesn't really understand why he and her mom aren't together anymore and how hard it is on both of them. I told him that my parents got divorced when I was quite young too, and that I now consider it the best thing that could have possibly happened, and that one day his daughter would too. And he thanked me, genuinely thanked me, and gave me a hug. I got a hug from a complete stranger. And hopefully I made him feel a little better too. That was definitely one of the highlights of the night for me.

I had such a fantastic night at Stella's. The performances were amazing and the community that has grown around the show is just awesome. And I finally got to see Nathan perform; he totally killed it. I regret every Monday night this summer that I did not spend at Stella's and I cannot wait to go back next week for more - and to finally try out the burger I keep hearing so much about!

I leave you with this picture I got after the show (Nathan is the handsome guy in the stripes with the flowing locks.) I would love (I think...maybe...) to actually be one of the people performing at some point, but for now I'll settle for sipping on my drink and watching everyone else kick ass. 

(Sorry. I'm still in the "cell phone camera" stage of my blogging life. And it was dark. Because pub.)


  1. This sounds so awesome! I would love to go with you guys sometime, but I work Monday nights :(
    Still, I'm down for a coffee downtown anytime! ;)

    1. Aww. How late Monday night? The show doesn't really start til 9. And they do it every single week so if not over the summer maybe some other time!

      I will definitely take you up on that sometime soon! We need to catch up! Text me your number (new phone, lost contacts, blah blah) and we'll work something out (:

    2. Definitely! And yes, I will send you my number, it would be great to get together! :)

  2. Oh wow! I have always been in awe of folk who perform at open mic events. I've never been to one myself but I can only imagine what the atmosphere must have been like. The Drunken Retort sounds like the place to be on a Monday night that's for sure. It's a shame I am all the way in the UK :( lol

    Mo x


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