When you're within Seattle proper, your experience is based on what neighborhood you find yourself in. When you navigate the city, you're also navigating where your night will lead you. Each distract has its cliches, demographic, and character; whatever your mood there's a neighborhood to suit it.
I've spent time in so many neighborhoods, but more often than not evenings end in the Capitol Hill area. Capitol Hill is hip. As most of us don't fit into this elite category, we ask ourselves, What Makes Capitol Hill Hip? Its hipster denizens can be drafted into two very different categories. First and perhaps most iconic are the devil-may-care hipsters. These kids are so hip that they must make extra effort not to appear to be trying at all.
Most often both male and female will have strikingly similar hairstyles, saving for the fact that facial hair grooming is not something that the male hipster often partakes in. Bed head hair and got-dressed-in-the-dark outfits go over well. There are many varities on hipsters of course, each adding their individual twist to this broad, free-spirited collective identity of coolness. Cheap, local beer (think Ranier or Olympia) is often the drink of choice, though the more refined intellectual sorts may sip Fernet and frequent American Spirit or self-rolled cigarette breaks punctuate the evening.
Nothing that these Hipsters do is by chance, their apparent coolness is a boring game of chess they play alone, always a number of moves ahead. It is the combination of a laissez-faire languid attitude combined with utmost self-satisfaction and a pinch of superiority that makes the average cool kid in this area code so tragic. When I see a lone hipster striving to ooze coolness out of every pore, I feel a little sad, because I know that it must be exhausting to always be running on a hipster wheel of coolness that never gets you any farther than your own neighborhood.
Interestingly, Capitol Hill is going through some growing pains. It is yet to be seen if this growth will be to its benefit or detriment, but it certainly is resulting it the surge in popularity as a weekend-warrior destination spot. Word has spread that a night out on Capitol Hill is almost always a good time, so a weeknight on Capitol Hill versus a Friday or Saturday hardly bear any resemblance to one another. On a weekday you'll find the natives and some day-trippers from other neighborhoods, but the Hill retains its hipster feel and edge.
The weekends bring creatures. Creatures from Kent, Everette, Bremerton, Snohomish, or Lynnwood. They heard from a friend of a friend that the Cha-Cha was a really cool bar, or that Unicorn was awesome. And these places are cool; they ooze contrived artsiness and edge, but give off a vibe letting patrons know that they could care less if you agree. On a Tuesday you'll find patrons crowded around booths or tables bathing in the distinctive red light with images of Lucha Libre wrestlers lining the walls. On a Saturday twenty-somethings dressed in club attire will be elbowing eachother for tequila or lemon drop shots, crawling on the boothes.
Last Friday, there were two youths at Unicorn, obviously hitting it off, who ceased to dry-hump and lick one another only after some uncouth bar-goers began using them as a backdrop for a number of photos. This sort of spectacle would never have been permitted on a mid-week excursion, but as the locals are too busy in their active disgust or blatant disregard, but scenes such as this one re-occur every weekend.
The air of mystery that enshrounds this neighborhood is not easily permeated, but its allure is undeniable. It's yet to be determined if its the bars, the self-engrossed young people, or the attitude. Whatever it is, this much is true: Capitol Hill is hip.