Tigerbeats is not your typical Monday night. The Barbary’s weekly “indie dance party” features two floors of drinks and music from the likes of Sleigh Bells, Major Lazer, Icona Pop and MGMT, as well as all of the facial piercing and asymmetrical hairstyle variations Philadelphia has to offer.
Anna Snapp, a senior theater major and Tigerbeats regular, said its appeal is its dance atmosphere.
“I think it’s different from other nights at the bar, because it’s designed specifically for young 20-somethings from all over the city,” Snapp said. “You have recent college-grads, Temple students, an even mixture of girls and guys, and the best part is everyone likes to have fun and dance when they get there. It’s almost like there’s no shame or self-consciousness at Tigerbeats; everyone is just there to have a blast.”
Located at 951 Frankford Ave. in Northern Liberties, the intimate 200-person venue may not look like much, with its plain brick exterior and black and white sign pronouncing simply, “Barbary.” But the entrance offers three options: go straight up the stairs to one bar and DJ, turn right for another bar and DJ or turn left for the photobooth.
Yes, a photobooth – or, as it is better known, Photobot 3000. For better or worse, those drunken pictures from last night are no longer confined to your phone’s camera roll. Attendees can operate the open-air booth simply by pressing the big red button on the camera, then they can gather around the large projection screen placed at the back of the lower-level area to view their pictures.
“The self-serve aspect of the booth is really what makes it special,” Photobot 3000 owners Scott Ackerman and Brian Kimmel said in an email. “You’re free to take as many pictures as you’d like and seconds later they’re up on the big screen for everyone to see. The Photobot instantly infuses a room with a sort of exhibitionist/voyeur dynamic.”
Additionally, all photographs are posted online the next day. Senior psychology major Lauren Fleisher cites that as a major draw for attending.
“My friends and I definitely take advantage of Photobot; we probably abuse it,” Fleisher said. “I guess it’s just an excuse to be silly. I don’t mind that [the pictures are] put on Facebook. Besides, I only tag myself in the ones that I want people to see. I’ve had pictures of me put up on Facebook without my knowledge or consent. At least with Photobot, I’m the one pushing the button.”
However, Snapp admits that having the pictures posted online does have its drawbacks.
“I think it’s kind of great in the sense that you can document your night with friends, but I do think it’s a bit of a trap,” Snapp said. “There are lots of college students drinking, and a lot of them may regret the choices they make in Photobot later on.”
As for the craziest picture Ackerman and Kimmel have ever seen in the Photobot catalogue, they said, “Let’s just say we’re not on Facebook’s good side. We’ve had more suspensions for ‘indecent content’ than [we] can count.”
Another draw for younger Philadelphians is the first hour’s open bar. For the cover price of $3, attendees can enjoy unlimited free Pabst Blue Ribbon beer during the open bar, then $1 PBRs for the next hour.
“It appeals to the cheap college student that I am,” senior film major Sarah Roethke said.
When not hosting the Monday night dance jam, The Barbary runs a number of other theme nights. For instance, March saw “Through Being Cool,” an “emo and pop punk dance party,” as well as “MMP!” featuring the sounds of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince.
The Barbary also doubles as a music venue for touring artists. In the past, it has hosted such major acts as Best Coast, Odd Future and Japandroids. Tickets can be purchased on the R5 Productions and Live Nation websites.
The Barbary hosts Tigerbeats every Monday night from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Julie Zeglen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.