FORT WAYNE ROCK CITY

This past weekend the mighty TremFu ventured to Fort Wayne, Indiana at the request of some (new) acquaintances who apparently wanted to inject some rock into their lives. It was not until we arrived that I found out we were playing at a bar called the Brass Rail. Our Chicago and Champaign-Urbana readers are well aware that there is also a Brass Rail in downtown Champaign.

Two thoughts, one considerably less plausible than the other, entered my mind at this point. I considered the possibility that Brass Rail is some sort of chain-franchise operation that licenses dingy bars serving a mixed clientele of drunken hillbillies and college hipsters. Then I wised up and realized it's probably just a coincidence. Nevertheless, the extent to which Brass Rail-Fort Wayne is almost identical to Brass Rail-Champaign was hard to ignore.

Is the name some sort of reference that I'm not getting? What is it about the name "Brass Rail" that lends itself to PBR, $5 pitchers, and creepy old alcoholic men leering at 22 year old rockabilly girls? I urge our readers to report any other Brass Rails of which they are aware. This merits further study. (Note: there are Brass Rails in San Diego and Minneapolis, both of which are gay bars, and one in San Francisco that is a strip joint. I'm confused.)

In any case, Fort Wayne surprised me. Not an altogether bad place, contrary to my expectations. Good people, (at least) one good bar, and a lot of enormous apartment houses that look like Victorian castles. And an Arby's that never closes. Thanks to the Twin Rays, All Nite Skate (our hosts), and Michigan-based Lone Wolf & Cub. And Omar's pregnant cat…..what the hell was its name? Something horrible. He introduced it as "This is my cat _____. That is the worst cat name ever." Someone help me out or this is going to drive me crazy.

Be Sociable, Share!

14 Responses to “FORT WAYNE ROCK CITY”

  1. Samantha Says:

    Two ideas on Brass Rail (Wikipedia was no help):

    1) Could it be the brass rail at the foot of the bar that you rest your feet on?

    2) Less plausible, but possibly something to do with the railroad?

  2. Andy Says:

    There is a Brass Rail in Plymouth, Indiana also.

  3. mike Says:

    Under "bar hardware":
    http://www.rockler.com/findit.cfm?cookietest=1&page=10323%20&sid=AF220

    Most bars have a 'brass rail' to keep people from getting a little too close to the bartenders, or double as a foot stool. From a New York newspaper writer column dated 1935 – "Her Foot is on the Brass Rail':
    http://www.donmarquis.com/readingroom/otherbooks/brassrail.html

    "That is bad enough. But there is worse. Women come into this New Barroom…They go right up to the bar. They put a foot on the brass railing. They order; they are served; they bend the elbow; they hoist; they toss down the feminine esophagus the brew that was really meant for men — stout and wicked men."

    God bless those girls. That said, now that you've pointed it out, google has a lot of bars out there with that name.

  4. Ed Says:

    You are correct about the Brass Rail being at the foot of the bar….but I'm still unclear about why this name would lend itself to dingy hipster bars. Although google is making it quite clear that the name is also used for other kinds of bars.

  5. Ed Says:

    You are correct about the Brass Rail being at the foot of the bar….but I'm still unclear about why this name would lend itself to dingy hipster bars. Although google is making it quite clear that the name is also used for other kinds of bars.

  6. mike Says:

    Yikes. Googling searching more shows there are several bars named Brass Rail that are not like the Champaign one. Maybe it was a really popular name for a bar in the 20s-30s, and hipsters are drawn to the tough-and-tumble-been-here-through-prohibition not selling to a sports-bar franchise feel that the ones I've been in have had.

    And then there's been another (current?) wave of naming bars "Brass Rail", for whatever kitschy gay/adult club atmosphere? Can we get a grant to study this?

  7. Ed Says:

    I'll get the MacArthur Foundation paperwork started.

  8. amanda Says:

    as the brass rail in champaign is the oldest bar town, the argumenat that hipsters like the old dingey made it through prohibition kind of bar. the name does refer to the rail at the foot at the foot of the bar, and the reason it was popular many years ago was that it implyed a hard drinking, no nonsense bar with little interaction. one could go in get lit and not be bothered. this also lends itself to hipsters as they like to think of themselves as some hard drinking guys. and as for the strip clubs, dance bars etc their names also refer to a rail in the bar, but this bar is verticle and is danced upon rather than stood upon. a "brass" rail or pole implies a fancier club, but that seems to not usually be true advertising, just hopefull.

  9. jb Says:

    the owner of the champaign brass rail told us that their namesake was donated to the war effort in the 40s. i wonder if the iron post has any kind of dignified story like that.

    in portland or. there is a hair salon called the brass rail.

  10. jb Says:

    the owner of the champaign brass rail told us that their namesake was donated to the war effort in the 40s. i wonder if the iron post has any kind of dignified story like that.

    in portland or. there is a hair salon called the brass rail.

  11. Patch McMean Says:

    The name of Omar's cat was "keekers" because his best friend's cat is named "peepers."

    She gets pissed when you get near her tits.

  12. Patch McMean Says:

    This was my favorite thing at the Fort Wayne Brass Rail… a classy Boar head with a top-hat.

    http://www.cutefluffybunnies.com/cameraphone/2005-Aug-21/18.jpg

  13. Ed Says:

    I love the name "keekers" and that Boar head almost as much as I love the quality of digital cameraphone images.

  14. Don Says:

    The day prohibition was repealed the owner of the Brass Rail in Champaign got the first liquor license available, set a door on a pair of saw horses and started selling beer (I cannot recall what the bar was named at this point).

    After being renovated the space featured a gorgeous bar with a majestic brass rail as trim.

    As JB notes, the rail was donated to the military for the WWI effort and was never returned.