You and Your Friends Drunk: Live on Webcam

The New York Times tackled the topic of webcams in bars, and the Twin Cities is at the core of the story. Among the central examples is Park Place Sports Bar in St. Paul, who use a local company called Barseenlive to show a live stream of the night's business. 14 bars in the area currently run such webcams.

That sound you heard is hundreds of your neighbors frantically clicking to see if their drunken exploits have been being streamed live from the neighborhood watering hole.

Tracking the lushes isn't the stated intent of the system, though.

"When you go out, you want to know if it's busy or not. The camera's not made to spy on anyone or be incriminating," said Jen Renwick, a bartender at Park Place, a bar in Minnesota that set up two Webcams in recent months in partnership with a new company called Barseenlive. She said a couple of people have complained about privacy, but the majority of the response has been positive.
You and Your Friends Drunk: Live on Webcam

It's 11:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. Do you know where your husband is?

Some of the pro-webcam sentiment comes from partygoers who want to be sure the scene is starting before they begin departing. Others want the opposite, to find a quiet spot to nurse a drink. Still others -- no, really -- are tourists who want their families back home to be able to see them in the bar.

I cannot possibly imagine a scenario where I would want my Saturday night rendered into ones and zeroes for public consumption. But as long as I'm watching others' weekend experiences, why not get one of the big downtown Minneapolis meat markets online? If we could get a high-quality stream of, say, Sneaky Pete's, watching the pickups take shape could be the most visceral animalistic entertainment since Trials of Life.

You could watch on a big screen from house parties, offering lines on which guy would pursue which gal, setting the odds of successful interplay. Just for example:

2-1: Drink purchased 5-1: Phone numbers exchanged 10-1: Sloppy makeout session ensues 50-1: Drink-in-face 1000-1: Mutual, simultaneous drink-in-face

The possibilities of parlays, trifectas and quiniellas should go without saying. It would be the biggest thing since off-track betting. Some see webcams in bars and say, "why?" I see what might be -- an opportunity to gamble on the outcome of pick-up attempts -- and say, "why not?"

Naturally, this isn't what Barseenlive had in mind when they set up more than a dozen of these enterprises around the Twin Cities. That would be too entertaining.

Barseenlive, a directory of bars in Minneapolis, was conceived by three friends who decided at a happy hour that it would be ideal to be able to look up online what the crowd was like at the next bar they wanted to go to. After two years developing the concept, Barseenlive launched with its first bar in Minneapolis last summer, according to co-founder Jon Elizondeal.

Barseenlive runs a dedicated server for the cameras, which span 14 bars around the area, said co-founder Damian Jelich. The company's servers can support around 100 people watching the Webcams, but when it gets to the low thousands the stream will cut out, he said.

Barseenlive's website has a map of all the bars around the area you can check out, from Stillwater to Inver Grove Heights. The service costs bars in the neighborhood of $500 a month.

Privacy concerns are pooh-poohed in the story, with people saying that the video's generally low-quality, the content isn't archived, etc. etc. Then you read this:

Newsome said a woman once walked up to the camera bearing a piece of paper with a phone number, then her friend ran over and tackled her. Barmigo also gets e-mails like: "Who was the girl in the red dress last night, what's her e-mail, and can I talk to her?"

This is a foolproof tool for meeting people. "Hi. My name is [X]. We met in the bar last night. Or, actually, we didn't meet, per se. I watched you live from my parent's basement on a webcam, and ..."

Write your own pickup line in the comments. The possibilities are limitless.

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