"Dress slutty" was the dictate for the Wednesday-night edition of Pony's three opening parties last week, and compliance was creative. There was a Harlequin-man in skintight black-and-white-striped Lycra, a mustached and suspendered marching-band member, a cowboy wearing a kerchief and not much else, a hot sailor with a slightly soiled cap. A couple hours of free drinks got the evening off to a well-lubricated start, and those arriving after midnight found people having so much fun, it was kind of scary.
The original Pony was everybody's favorite limited-time-only trashy gay disco two summers ago, back in the halcyon days before the 500 block of Pine Street got razed for a condo development. The block contained approximately 27 of Seattle's best bars; you'll recall that after the Cha Cha moved out (destined for a new location on Pike Street a few blocks away), Pony moved in. (Once the entire block was demolished, some guy filed a lawsuit against the impending building for its failure to meet Seattle's Neighborhood Design Guidelines. Now the former bar-hopper's paradise is a parking lot, though one of the other bars, the Bus Stop, has also reopened elsewhere.) At the time, the theoretical-minded posited that it was the temporal nature of Pony that made it so wild and free: The bulldozers were coming, so meanwhile, we drink Colt 45 and we dance on the bar in tiny cutoff shorts and we sleaze about the place gloriously (we being, by and large, very sexy gay men).
The new Pony, on that triangle-shaped block on Madison at 12th where a florist used to be, is permanent, and yet it also runs wild. A stripper pole has been installed on the bar to facilitate bar-top dancing; the large-size cans of Crisco are absent, but the air hockey came along, as did lots of wheat-pasted full-frontal action. (Notable: a triptych of Andy Warhol darling Joe Dallesandro.) A sign proclaims "MAN'S COUNTRY / Why settle for anything less?" Over by the restrooms (marked "MEN" and "BOYS"), blown-up pages from dirty novels provide reading while you wait: "'Tonight I'm all yours,' he continued, unbuckling his belt as he stepped out of his shoes." And wait you will: Pony's bathrooms are violently striped in black and white, inviting photo shoots and all manner of locked-in shenanigans. A tiny triangular shelf awaits, upon which to temporarily rest your intoxicant, and (at least for the party) the toilet paper is extremely soft.
Outside, in the point of the triangle, is a deck enclosed by an ingenious fence made of old street signs and planks of wood. It's the shape of a ship, and it feels like one, too. "You're above the waves, but you're on the ocean!" a celebrant remarked. "But you're on a pony! Probably bareback."
Pony, 1221 E Madison St