Why do you think they call it “happy hour”? Megumi Shauna Arai

As construction cranes loom and news feeds clog with elegies to bygone hangs, it's a pleasure to report that at least one little bar that could actually could. The Hideout, a dark, signless outpost of art husbandry and behavioral decadence tucked away on Boren, will celebrate its 10th anniversary Friday night. Originally conceived by founders Jeff Scott and Greg Lundgren as a performance piece with an intentionally limited lifespan, this bar-as-installation/installation-as-bar has defied the expectations of owners and patrons alike to become that rarest of rarities: an independent, artist-friendly public space that thrives in direct proportion to the threat posed by Seattle's ongoing mutation. If all goes well, the party will also be the debut of the two-volume Hideout Omnibus, a 1,260-page compendium of original writing, drawing, drink recipes, photos, and press releases generated by the bar's first decade—it's an impressive document by any measure. While preparing for the big night, Lundgren took a moment to answer a few questions about the past and future of his precocious brainchild.

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How is a bar a piece of art?

Is the Hideout a piece of art? Is it a performance or an installation or a sculpture? I don't know. It's never pretended to be a museum or a gallery, but it really is a different kind of bar. We wanted people to walk in and have an experience—to be inspired and surrounded by the painters that work in this city. To feel encouraged to draw or write for our in-house zine (the Vital 5 Review) and not feel intimidated by art. Since the beginning, we've given drinking grants for Discreet Theatre (performing without acting like you are performing), hung 90 to 100 pieces of local art on the walls, programmed a vending machine with short stories and small sculptures and all sorts of objects, curated our Tink Tank back by the men's bathroom, and served as a meeting place for people to talk about ideas. The Hideout has hatched all sorts of projects and new relationships. It's brokered more than a hundred people with their first art purchase. Does that make it a piece of art? It could be argued, but more importantly it is a place that doesn't judge, that doesn't serve one group of people, that inspires and encourages people to talk and dream and be themselves. Maybe it isn't art, but it is a good description of what I want art to be.

How has your conception of the project been changed by the reality of doing it?

My original idea was to have a minimal selection of alcohol. Maybe one high-end and a low-end bottle of each spirit. Keep it simple. But that changed really quickly with the hire of Archer Brown, who had his own ideas about bartending, and we were smart enough to listen. The Hideout emerged as one of the first craft cocktail bars in Seattle, primarily due to his talents and vision. And we added Baby Ketten Karaoke a while back, just because Ivan [the proprietor of Baby Ketten] really operated on a higher level than what you typically find. But other than that, our directive has remained pretty consistent. We will never have a television set. We will never serve Red Bull. We will always be a refuge for a great diversity of people. If we had opened on the Pike/Pine corridor, we would have had to contend with much greater issues. We probably would have made a lot more money, but it would have transformed us into something that we didn't want to be. I guess that is the perk of being off the beaten path.

How much longer can you keep it up?

Originally we viewed it as a five-year project—like a long theater run. If it tanked, we could button it up; if it did great, we could extend the run. At the five-year mark, we realized that you don't shutter things that are fun and profitable, and all of our staff was dedicated to keeping it going. Eventually the building will be torn down to make way for an expanded Virginia Mason, but at this point, we are committed to staying put until the building gets torn down. Maybe that is three years. Maybe it is another 10. It will all come to an end, and still be a shorter run than The Phantom of the Opera or Cats had. recommended