At noon on Saturday, the Elite is full of handsome, hale young men eating take-out pizza and drinking beer or their less-caloric drink of choice. At the behest of the bartender, they're wearing soccer jerseys and shorts, rather than just one or the other: They've all come from a Rain City Soccer Club "exhibition" game in which one team played topless and the other bottomless. Bottomless, it is revealed, did not mean entirely without lower-body coverage or with only athletic support. Due to concerns about the law—the Capitol Hill police station is one block away from the playing field—the bottomless team played in briefs (boxer shorts are entirely out).
Everyone seems satisfied nonetheless, and there's much discussion of bouncing junk, especially large packages, and underwear options. (The virtues of aussieBum brand briefs are discussed at length in one corner of the bar: These are said to be the undergarment of choice of Ewan McGregor, as well as the male equivalent of the push-up brassiere.) Action shots and postgame team photos are perused on an iPhone that's passed around until the screen breaks. Most admired: one man's highly defined abs, and the fashion- forwardness of another who rejected topless or bottomless in favor of a red-and-white-striped shirt and a pink tutu. The referee reports: "It was good. I took my pants off for the second half." Another player: "I went both ways. I'm versatile!"
The bartender—the only other woman on the premises—recommends a Land Shark Lager, the official beer of Jimmy Buffett, manufactured by Anheuser-Busch. It looks like a Corona and tastes like a Budweiser, and a surfboard bearing its logo is adhered to the wall above the bar. In its present incarnation (and with all the boys in shorts), the Elite feels like spring break. It's huge and high-ceilinged, with peach-colored walls, a purple ceiling, lime trim, and a tasteful rainbow flag. An auxiliary room has a pool table and a loft for darts.
At the Elite's previous location, at the north end of Broadway, the windows were covered; inside, the mirrors and patrons were dimmed by years' worth of cigarette smoke. Opinions among current customers about the old Elite vary, though all are affectionate: "crusty guys smoking Marlboro 100s," "off the grid in a kind of great, trashylicious way," "the most ironically named establishment in the city." One man recalls "running the gauntlet of grab-ass" in the narrow former space, possibly a little wistfully. (No one will admit to remembering the very first Elite, located somewhere else on the Hill even before that.)
The new Elite has a new transparency, with huge windows onto Olive Way. It's completely wholesome and totally fun, a bunch of nice boys having a beer after the game. "It's the everyone bar," one guy explains.
The Elite, 1520 E Olive Way, 860-0999.