First Avenue

While the city pours its treasury into the drama of underwriting a Hennepin Avenue theater district, artless entrepreneurialism rules on First Avenue. It is here that the people flock in droves any time the mercury climbs above 50 degrees--like animals strutting to the watering hole come springtime to select fit mates. It's Brothers. Liquid. South Beach. Club Ashé. The New French. The Lounge. Many of these visitors are strangers to the city, people whose lives take place at the periphery of the highways that have three digits in their name. They come in groups of a dozen on colorful motorcycles, and they come by pickup truck. Their hair is wet and their teeth are straight and their skirts are hiked up to Tipperary. As long as a person is willing to drink like a member of the Russian duma, and get groped like livestock at the State Fair, she has a sure place here. They follow the flash of the neon beer sign, and they knock drinks back until every light in the city seems to be flashing--which might explain why, around midnight, they're often found wandering through intersections at inopportune moments, as if looking for a missing contact lens in the crosswalk. Is Minneapolis a new Sin City, or a foolhardy collective exercise in binge drinking? As long as the revelers keep paying sales tax, no one will ever stop them to ask.


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