Siiri Sampson, 2011.
The Bar: If you consider your level of familiarity with Capitol Hill watering holes somewhere between expert and clinically worrisome, but have yet to hear of Havana Social Club, you aren't alone. Havana's entrance is hidden in a parking lot that most Pike Street idlers unwittingly pass by for the bright lights of Comet Tavern or Wild Rose. If that weren't bad enough, many of my friends thought Havana was a strictly exclusive affair, thanks to its obscure location, its website's insistence on reservations, and generally chic appearance.
It might be because of this perceived elitism that Havana was so receptive to starting a pub quiz just last week. With the bar's roomy and well-partitioned booths and a clearly defined stage, the club seemed all but built for a trivia night. As for Havana Social Club's drink menu, you'll find a little bit of everything--even though all the Social Club's cocktails are distinctly summer-oriented. Sipping Royal Palms in the March rain may turn some people off, but personally I've never taken much stock in the seasonality of perfectly good liquor.The Quiz: (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., $3 per team member) In total, Havana Social Club's quiz comprises eight rounds of five questions with a half-time break. The prize breakdown is pretty familiar: First place gets the cash pot, second gets Havana gift certificates, and third gets to name a category for next week. The one thing I saw that seeks to set Havana apart from other trivia nights is a firm set of regular categories that Quizmaster Lucien intends to commit to. Most quizzes will have an audio round or a picture round every week, but Lucien promises both of these features, as well as dedicated rounds for movies, music, and literature.
Lucien went on the record as disliking most trivia nights he's frequented, and hopes that Havana's focus on its staple categories will draw an audience disillusioned with other Capitol Hill quizzes that put too much focus on a disorganized mess of wacky categories that dredge up the most rightfully obscure tidbits of random knowledge hosts can find.
The Host: While most hosts commandeer control of the house sound system either through having worked there prior or having an in with the bar owner, Quizmaster Lucien managed to snag his gig at Havana while looking for a decent Monday happy hour. After admiring the Havana's layout, Lucien propositioned the proverbial people upstairs with a Tuesday-night quiz. Obviously, they obliged.
The Verdict: It's hard to accurately judge how successful a trivia night is going to be on the first night out, but Lucien doesn't seem off to a bad start. There were a few hiccups regarding the night's presentation, and despite Lucien's voiced distaste with trivia nights, he certainly seems to have a lot in common with most of them in terms of format and content. However, Lucien had a keen eye and bold charisma in picking out a really solid location. It's just a matter of whether or not he can translate that energy into a consistent, standout trivia night in a neighborhood already packed with quality quizzes.