Exterior in late 1990, courtesy of Sandey, UD '90. Note the sign for the liquor store!The Package Store. Some of you are like, “What, huh?” If you were facing the building, it was on the left-hand side. The smaller room, correct. The package store was ditched in the mid to late '90s, to make way for the lower bar.
Wall-to-Wall. Mug Nights and often Saturdays filled the Balloon, but I remember the beginning of the school year being particularly, “Okay, it’s fucking packed in here.” I also vaguely remember some beer promotions, maybe there were Bud Light girls. But that paled in comparison to Homecomings, when the drawing power of the Balloon was undisputed. That tent in back? Ridiculous. In the best kind of way.
Trivia Prizes. Before the live band started (or between sets), sometimes the DJ would get on the mic, and give away a prize -- a CD or whatever -- to the first person who ran up to the booth, and gave him the correct answer to a trivia question. I remember this one like it was yesterday: he asked, "What is the thickness of an NHL hockey puck?" I was standing with my friend Maria, and told her, "One inch...go get it!" She ran to the booth, and won the prize. Reason I knew it, is because that DJ had asked the same question a previous week, and my roommate AB who knows a lot about hockey told me the answer. But we didn’t get to the booth in time that week. (By the way, I know you were expecting a dick joke with the "one inch" thing.)
The Porch. Would you call it a porch? Maybe a deck. Well, that thing outside, if you were facing the building, on your right. Had some great times hanging out there, sitting at those wooden picnic tables. It was sometimes a great escape from…
The Smoke. Well, true of any bar, before the smoking ban, right? I don't smoke and of course don't miss being in a smoke-filled room...but there's something different about the experience of being in bar, without smoke, right? Something about the thinner air, or not coming home with your clothes full of smoke, and that being said...
The Dress Code. Hey, I attended UD during the Grunge era. And man, would smoke permeate right into those flannel shirts. But that was the fashion of the time, and of course what people often wore to the Balloon. No dress code, totally casual. T-shirts, jeans, and that flannel tied around your waist was the way of the walk. I was amazed though, years later when visiting UD, that the kids were getting dressier at night, and the Balloon seemed to be enforcing a dress code. Collared shirts required, are you kidding me?! This is college! I think that was relaxed later on.
Pre-Balloon Feast. Yep, when I was at UD, on Fridays before the bands started the Balloon had FREE Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. This was deadly. Nothing beats free food...but cheap bean burritos mixed with cheap beer occasionally prompted an emergency trip back to East Cleveland or Choate Street. Because nobody wanted to take care of business in a Balloon bathroom.
Post-Balloon Feast. When it hit 1 AM and the masses moved out the door, down those steps, and onto Main Street, without a doubt it was time for Margherita's. However, I understand in more recent years, many kids had DP Dough’s number on speed-dial.
Mugs in hand, and spray in hair. Inside the Balloon in 1990, courtesy of Jill HP, UD '92
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