It is difficult to find out much about the Ballard Young Sophisticates, who, it turns out, are actually called the Ballard Young Sophisticates UK. This is not, apparently, for any reason relating to the United Kingdom, but rather to differentiate the current incarnation of the social club from the original Ballard Young Sophisticates (now defunct). Whether the "UK" is intended to provide additional sophistication is unclear. Members seem to enjoy the acronym, referring to themselves as "by-sucks." "The important thing to know about it," my connection revealed, "is that none of us are young and none of us are sophisticated—lest you think it's some sort of snooty affair."
I finagled an invitation to a meeting held at the Sloop Tavern. The BYSUKs in attendance looked generally to be in their 30s; as far as the level of sophistication, the location set the tone. The nautical-themed Sloop is the only place in town (and presumably the world) where one may "Slooper-size" one's beer, which involves getting 33.8 ounces of Budweiser in a chilled mug bigger than one's head for $3.75. Members were availing themselves of this bargain, Slooper-sizing with abandon.
The BYSUKs were extremely welcoming; prompt introductions were made all around, a nicety that is all too often neglected. The virtues of the Sloop's burgers were extolled, so I ordered one with bacon and American cheese; while not of the hand-formed, organic-beef variety, it was very good in a classic way and extremely drippy with special sauce.
The organization does have a leader of some sort, but what this role encompasses was elusive, and she was not in attendance. I asked a tattooed male BYSUK what the deal was with the club. He said he didn't know, he'd only recently joined ("for the hell of it," as he put it), and that as far as he could tell, it was just an excuse to get together with friends once a week and drink. Fair enough. Subsequently we got to talking about a gig this neophyte BYSUK has one night a week at a bar in Marysville airbrushing art onto women's breasts for an onstage contest (expect a full report in a future column).
I ended up speaking to a young Marlon Brando look-alike for a while about his job (contractor at Microsoft) and the state of his car (mufflerless), and to a total fireball of a woman about the pizza joint (as yet without a name) she's planning to open on Market Street. A blonde with Bettie Page bangs made reference to "Crapitol Hill," but her winning smile belied her fighting words. Everyone was most charming. The group was further defined only by what it is not: No one's been ejected, there is no hazing, and members needn't necessarily live in Ballard, but must have aspirations to do so.
The Sloop Tavern may be found at 2830 NW Market St, 782-3330; the Ballard Young Sophisticates UK may be found on myspace.com.