Long Island's Boardy Barn Boozefest Is the Happiest Place on Earth
Photo courtesy of Rob Cinq-Mars
Generally, the Hamptons are all about expensive booze, BMWs and Vera Bradley bags. Kinda like South Beach, but with more lobster and less español.
But in one little Long Island hamlet known as Hampton Bays, the crowd tends more towards blue collar than blue blood. There, you'll find the Boardy Barn, a 43-year-old bar whose massive striped tent looks down on beer-soaked singalongs, smiley stickers ad infinitum and bromances galore.
The indoor/outdoor drinking extravaganza is only open for four hours a day, on Sundays, during the summertime. And Barn animals (as they're dubbed) can wait on line for up to six hours to get in.
Trust me, it's worth it.
The legendary spot's motto, "Happy Days in Hampton Bays," is an apt representation of co-owner Tony Galgano's philosophy. The soft-spoken, low-key Long Island local is all about bringing joy into the lives of his patrons. And does he ever. Since the tender age of 26, he's been making drunken dreams come true.
The inside of the tented den of drunkenness is lined with four decades of photographic evidence. Debauchery hasn't changed much since 1965. For me, it's a family tradition. My parents used to hang out there (seriously), my uncle used to work there and I've spent the happiest moments of my post 21-adulthood there.
But that ain't all. The Barn also been reported to sell more beer on any given afternoon than YANKEE STADIUM. You heard right. The home of the NY Yankees. They sell more beer than the world's most popular baseball stadium. That means an approximate 100,000 cups of brew in one day.
On holidays (Memorial Day Monday, Labor Day Monday), they're open for a whopping eight hours and the cover runs $30. $20 on a normal Sunday. Once inside, cups of Bud or Bud Light run $2 a pop. There's liquor, too, but Barn regulars know better unless they want to end the evening glued to the porcelain throne. Here, you stick with beer.
As the afternoon wears on, patrons stack and carry their cups in a vain attempt to keep track of their consumption quantity, but that's a wasted effort. No one leaves the Barn anything less than shitfaced, hammered -- wasted beyond all recognition. Then, hoards spill out into the streets to inhale slices of pizza, make out with strangers and stumble on home.
For anyone looking to break their Barn cherry, there are certain guidelines that are crucial for a successful experience. This is hard-earned wisdom, people, so pay attention.
1. Orange = no-go.
Bouncers wear bright orange t's, so steer clear of that color. Otherwise, you can wear whatever the hell you want. Underwear, sailor outfits, giant foam cowboy hats a la Peter Griffin.
2. Buy or make a ridiculous t-shirt.
Wearing shirts with ridiculous sayings is kind of a thing. Best one ever? Probably "HIV Negative." That's need to know info.
3. Rain boots FTW.
Any shoes you wear to the Barn will be soaked in beer, stepped on and completely violated. A pedicure will be utterly destroyed.
4. No beer tossing.
Don't throw/pour/spray beer on people unless you want to spend the afternoon alone in the parking lot. You will get ejected. However, it is tradition that "Barn virgins" get soaked in beer. Sooooo, get creative.
5. Stickers are a lovely gift.
The bartenders are keepers of the stickers, but It's a bit of a faux pas to ask for them directly. If you tip well and you're not a complete douchebag, however, they will provide them. And you will be very grateful.
6. Know your oldies.
Learn the words to every classic American tune recorded after 1960 before you go. Singalongs are required. Top faves include American Pie, Build Me Buttercup and Brown Eyed Girl.
7. Ziplocs are your friend.
Carry your valuables in one. Actually, try to avoid bringing valuables - but at least pack your ID and cash in a baggie. Everything will get wet. EVERYTHING. It's wisest to leave your phone at home, if you're physically capable of parting from it. The Barn is a black hole that will swallow up your sunglasses, your cash -- and your house keys, too.
8. Stickers are the ultimate ice breaker.
Placing stickers on strangers is completely acceptable. Nay, it's encouraged. Feel free to place them anywhere your little heart (or groin) desires. You might make a new friend. Orrrrrr more.
9. Wait till you're 21.
No one underage gets in here. No one. Don't bother trying.
10. Make friends with Big Dave.
He's the dude taking photos when you walk in. He's amazing. And he's been snapping pics of drunken awesomeness for longer than you've been alive.
And lastly: smile. It's the happiest place on earth, duh. Even the nerdiest, most socially hopeless loser will find approximately 1,500 new friends at the Boardy Barn. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said to love thy neighbor.
In closing, you'll never see the likes of a smile like the one that's plastered across my face when I'm at the Barn. When I die, I hope my loved ones will spend a Sunday afternoon pouring beer on one another and crooning along to Sweet Caroline, in my honor.
For South Floridians, it's worth a flight to NYC just to hop a train out to Hampton Bays one weekend. And if you see me there, feel free to gift me with a sticker or two. Or a beer. Or ten beers. Whatevs.
Who would like it: Fun people.
Who wouldn't like it: Sticks in the mud. Fogies. Recovering alcoholics.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.
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