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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Bayardstown Social Club season opening party

The Bayardstown Social Club's second season opening party will be Fri., May 9 at 6PM.

Bayardstown Social Club, founded by the folks at Deeplocal, began operating in late May of last year it filled a few holes in the fabric of Pittsburgh’s hangout culture. The club is a communal, “adult swim,” BYOB park space with grilles, fire pits and tape decks.

Notably, Bayardstown Social gives a backyard to those who have none. Even in a city with a relatively low cost of living, space between the two rivers is still at a premium, and finding a house, let alone a rental property, with a personal outdoor space for use in Pittsburgh’s few precious months of summer remains difficult. It also serves as an oasis in the relatively sparse nightlife desert that is the heavily industrial portion of the the Strip District above 27th Street (besides 31st Street Pub, the Pittsburgh Winery and, if you’re reaching, Cheerleaders), turning what was previously a blighted empty lot into a destination. Finally, Bayardstown wasn’t just a “social club” in name only; you had to pay monthly dues for membership, which were limitied in number, and follow a set of rules in order to spend time there.

Most of the rules were standard bar laws--no fighting, respect the neighborhood--but laptop and cell phone use is highly discouraged, and at one point before Bayardstown's opening, there were plans to deploy cell phone jamming equipment to eliminate digital communication entirely. The plans never came to fruition (the practice of cell phone jamming is illegal) but the whole project evoked an old school Elk’s Lodge committee created by a tech start up in Bushwick, Brooklyn. But, regardless of restrictions determined to make humans socialize with one another or faux-folksiness of the social club conceit, Bayardstown provided a nightlife experience like no other in Pittsburgh.

There are different sets of behaviors at Bayardstown than there are at normal watering holes: people are grilling, getting the fire ready, arguing over whether they should play a beat up Whitney Houston or Public Enemy cassette on a paint spattered boom box. Spending a night there felt both clandestine and comfortable, and being on a bit of an island in an extremely quiet part of the Strip was suprisingly relaxing. So now that Bayardstown is gearing up for a full summer of operation, the project seems poised to become a permanent mainstay in the East End’s social scene. A year two launch party on Friday, May 9 kicks off the season with live music from The Grifters, Molly and Chet and Alba Flamenca, food from Brassero Grill and Franktuary and beer compliments of Rock Bottom Brewery. Memberships are now $20 for the entire summer, so get them while they’re hot, prepare to stake out your favorite picnic table, and if you see an Eric B. and Rakim tape floating around, you're welcome. (3008 Penn Avenue, The Strip District, Bayardstown Social Club

CORRECTION:  A previous version of this article stated that Bayardstown operators Deeplocal deployed cell phone jamming equipment, and while there were initial plans to do so, the equipment was never installed or used. The revised version of this story reflects this correction. 
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