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Lessons and truisms from Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar

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Pete’s Dueling Pianos bar in Town Square on Nov. 14, 2009.
Photo: J. Ludwig/Night Vissions

Saturday night's itinerary brought me to that date-night ground zero — Town Square. Following the successful sale of a kidney (who needs two?) to acquire a parking spot in the same zip code as the popular dueling pianos joint, I joined the birthday party of local gal Teresa V., as thrown by about 15 of her most devoted friends, and already well under way.

Pete's was packed to the rafters with a crowd most clubs would sell their own kidneys for — both of 'em — and it was there that I observed:

1. Pete's — and dueling pianos outfits in general — is an amazing alternative to clubbing, bar-hopping and such. You get to sit, the drinks come to you, and the entertainment spans both music and comedy. It's a one-stop shop for when smiling is more important than the ego boost of being on The List.

2. The concept works for virtually any celebration: birthday party, bachelorette party, moving day, that toenail finally falling off... But do you really need an excuse to have fun?

3. Getting your way is as simple as the next $5 tip slipped to the fired-up, talented dueling pianists.

4. You can't beat nostalgia on tap. Ah ah ah! You can't. Period.

5. Pete's is even more fun with a picnic. My hospitable friends laid out a smorgasbord including olives, canapés, brie and toast, and cocktail shrimp, not to mention the giant Black Forest birthday cake that served half the audience. I'm not saying you need to do this to have a good time (or inquiring whether it's even legal), but those buttery, salty toasts elevated my humble Stella Artois to an elixir of the gods.

6. When the bar runs out of glasses — its inevitable — just switch to beer!

7. If the current song sucks, scan the room for possible hookups among the largely single and minglin' crowd. Whenever the pianists say "drunk and horny" (and that will be often), cheer loudly and look around to see who else is cheering — those marks will be your best bet.

8. Bring your sense of humor and some small bills or you may find yourself held hostage on stage at the pointy end of the performers' rapier-sharp wit. That pianist Matt Newbold looks just like Harry Connick Jr. makes it all the more easy to pay attention during the show.

9. Watch your consumption; drunks, hecklers and disruptions are summarily tossed.

10. Time all bathroom visits to avoid performances of Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" but not to miss any Billy Joel or Neil Diamond covers and especially not Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance." You will thank me on all counts.

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