A watery grave (and cheap drinks, too)
Frank tales and murderous games await you at Davy’s Locker
Tue, Oct 13, 2009 (6:34 p.m.)
Photo: Richard Brian
Every time I’ve gone to Davy’s Locker, it’s been with a different guy. No, it’s not like that; they’re just friends. I originally recruited them as bodyguards, because the stretch of Desert Inn between Maryland Parkway and the monorail underpass at Paradise is loosely known as “Crack Alley,” and a gal can’t be too careful. Long after I discovered that Davy’s Locker isn’t nearly as scary inside as it is out, I kept the boy habit.
The first time I went to Davy’s Locker with my Generic Guy Friend (GGF), we pulled in the parking lot under the more-dark-than-glowing neon fish. (“Davy’s Locker” refers to the watery grave of real pirate Davy Jones ... thus the nautical theme.)
“Where is it?” GGF asked as we sat in the parking lot. “Oh, there it is.” The neighboring off-brand convenience store grabs all the attention, hiding the small bar in plain sight. GGF pressed the doorbell: “I’ve never seen a bar that locks the doors before midnight.”
- Davy’s Locker
- 1149 E. Desert Inn Road, 735-0001.
After a year in Vegas, I’ve come to expect that bars like Davy’s Locker only accept cash. But GGF took it one step further: He boycotted the cash machine. On the return walk from the bank across the street, GGF handed me a $20. “I have this theory for surviving dive bars; it’s safest if the woman pays and only has a $20.”
“Because that way nobody thinks you’re a hooker.”
“Come on, I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Moreover, I should hope that if I were a hooker, I’d be taken to bars nicer than this one.”
“Look at how you’re dressed.” He buzzed the doorbell.
At Davy’s, a $20 goes a long way. Three dollars buys a shot and a beer. I won’t call it a special, because it’s their everyday price, but I think it’s pretty damn special.
While I’ve become adroit at pacing my alcohol consumption so that I never feel anything more than a slight warmth, the beer/shot combo screwed everything up. Granted, the shot glass only holds a trifle (a miracle of modern architecture, the tall but shallow glass looks like it holds a normal shot). But my view of Davy’s Locker was a little warmer than it might have been if not for the “special.”
Or not. The bar exudes a sense of community. I credit the Halloween decorations, complete with “Holiday Tree” (a Christmas tree with Halloween lights) and upcoming Halloween party. Or the ongoing game of gambling Clue. Every day, a different permutation of employee, location and weapon is posted (i.e., Jackass Jimmy in the men’s restroom with a bottle opener), as a tie-in to a gambling promotion. Such warmth and mystery for such a small building.
My favorite aspect of Davy’s? Its dubious Frank Sinatra stories. Bar Maid Marion (our bartender’s Clue name) said the bar used to be a regular hangout for the Rat Pack. Before the Strip bypass was built, they’d drive up Desert Inn from the Desert Inn and visit this bar after a show.
GGF told me his own bar story: Once, he went to a bar in Dublin and was excited when the bartender told him James Joyce had frequented the establishment. At the next bar, the bartender said the same thing. After the next 30 James Joyce haunts, GGF realized it was a just a story bartenders told tourists.
“You’re saying Frank Sinatra Vegas bar stories are equivalent to James Joyce Dublin bar stories?”
“I guess at some level it doesn’t really matter if the stories are true.”
“Not at all.” After a pause, he added, “But you could check the building plans to see if the bar existed in the Rat Pack days. This bar looks 1970s all the way.”
I didn’t see why the building couldn’t have existed in the ’60s. The main architectural feature is a raised ceiling that makes you feel like you’re inside a ship. That and wood laminate.
“Wait a second. That’s the song ‘Clean Sheets’ by the Descendents,” GGF said, our original conversation forgotten.
The idea of a DJ playing his laptop in the bar hadn’t seemed worth mentioning. But my friend was ecstatic, going on about this semi-obscure punk band, “They couldn’t have sold more than 20,000 records ever. This changes the entire feel of the bar for me.”
Me too. But I still think Sinatra came for the beer and shot special.