Getting Neighborly

Dashing, diner-ing, and dancing after midnight.

11:38 p.m. We're standing in front of an unattractive building. Having consumed a few pitchers of beer, the heavy, nondescript door presents a challenge to entering, but we finally stumble into what I can only describe as a warped version of the Twin Peaks lodge, minus the creepy midget and the weird stuffed wildlife. Welcome to 13 Coins (125 Boren Ave. N., 206-682-2513), where folks have been smoking and eating—often at the same time—around the clock since 1962. Inside among the high-backed booths, I feel both claustrophobic and overwhelmed by the color brown. It's brown here, very brown.

Ten of us squish around a long table in the back of the smoking section. Looking around at the mostly older couples that make up the clientele at this hour, we realize that though this really is a classy diner that serves lobster 24 hours a day, it really isn't an exciting stop when you're anticipating a wild night. If I had any thoughts of picking up a guy around here, it's clear that the best I can hope for is a sugar daddy—and I'd probably be better off just adopting a grandparent. Making the best of it, we order Bloody Marys and ask for two orders of crab Benedict and french fries—the latter arrive in an appropriate but strange log cabin arrangement. The food is great but pricey, and this makes me appreciate the $4.50 "breakfast" I had at Beth's Cafe (7311 Aurora Ave. N., 206-782-5588) on my last all-night bender.

The two always-open diners couldn't be more different. The low lights and elevator music of 13 Coins are in distinct contrast to Beth's, Seattle's brightly lit mecca for angry kids, where the coffee is good but the scenery is, well, if not better, then at least different. Very different. (Ever watch in horror as a black-clad, heavily pierced, 15-year-old girl licks her friend's neck for 10 minutes in the next booth? Go to Beth's. You will.) Although we're all impressed with the concept of decent seafood at 1 a.m., it's time for us to scram.

1:26 a.m. Staggering a little as we leave the diner, it occurs to me that maybe, for the patrons of 13 Coins, we provided the same variety of entertainment that the licking girl provided at Beth's—this night hasn't been in vain! I direct the cabbie to Neighbours (1509 Broadway Ave., 206-324-5358), the ever-popular gay bar home to the always-exciting '80s night every Thursday. We make our way past people chugging beer in the alley to the front door. Most of my friends regard Neighbours as a hook-up bar, especially on '80s night when a diverse crowd is drawn to the club, and when the low lighting can lead to some not-so- pleasant surprises later.

Lights are flashing, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" blasts from the speakers, couples make out in dark corners, and bodies writhe on the dance floor. I take a shot of vodka followed by a Red Bull—apparently at some point in the night, they stop mixing them together for you—and almost immediately I'm pulled onto the stage and forced to dance to a song that, shockingly, I don't recognize. But with much PBR, a couple of Bloody Marys, and some extra vodka in my system I manage to bob around, which is the true beauty of being out with a bunch of strangers at this hour: At some point, you just stop caring. While we dance, a strange little man seems to be humping my friend's back, which may or may not prove that gay bars are better than classy diners as far as picking up men goes. It works for some of us, I guess; glancing around I realize that my group has shrunk.

3:35 a.m. One more cab ride to Caffé Minnie's (101 Denny Way, 206-448-6263), because those of us who remain aren't ready to call it quits and Minnie's never closes (except on Christmas Day). We hurtle through the front door, the cold night air at our backs, but the hostess doesn't look surprised, just bored, as she directs us to a table in back. Over scones and coffee, we recap. Our antics get wilder, the club gets crazier, and the little humping man gets creepier with every passing minute.

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