The parking lot at Lenny's on a Friday night is packed with cars, spilling out onto the surrounding streets. Bicycles, skateboards and scooters line the unassuming gray cement building. A barred door, plastered with tattered fliers and posters, leads into the dark dive bar. The looming doorman looks bored and unimpressed as he checks IDs.
Inside, the crowd is young, eager, loud and drunk. Celebrations are in full effect as kids drink to the end of school and the oncoming summer. Nearby, a group of guys, PBRs in hand, celebrate a friend's recent release from jail. The weathered, tattooed bartenders push cheap beer over the counters and mixed drinks served in small plastic cups.
Nicknamed the CBGB's of Atlanta, Lenny's interior mimics that of the historic New York club – dark, dirty and unimpressive. The floor is scuffed and black, the bathrooms always covered in graffiti. There are no plush couches to lounge on, only stiff metal barstools. Luxury, style and mood lighting are not what the crowd packs in for each Friday night. As Bean Summer, manager at Lenny's, puts it, "It's simple – it's fun and free and you don't get that a lot in Atlanta."
By 1:30 a.m. the club is packed, crowds of kids engulfing the bar, pool tables and dance floor. A drunk blonde perches herself atop the bar, sloppily dancing, as impatient kids yell for drinks around her. Bending down and grabbing her ass through her light-blue flare jeans, she looks out of place, and the crowd is unimpressed.
In the DJ booth a few feet away, resident DJ Brian Parris plays old favorites from the Misfits to the Rolling Stones. As the dance floor thickens and sways, a guy stumbles up to the window separating the booth from the floor; thrusting his head inside, he laughs and yells incoherent song requests. Parris, obviously used to dealing with these kinds of drunken stupors, ignores him, putting on the next record.
As the lights come on around 3 a.m., a crowd of girls files out of the bathroom together. The bartender eyes them warily, questioning their suspicious bathroom behavior with amusement. Outside, the crowd mills around and slowly dissipates, as shafted kids bum rides and friends yell to each other about the next stop of their endless night.
Trashed Fridays. Every Friday from midnight till close. No cover. Lenny's Bar, 486 Decatur St. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com.
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