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THE HISTORY OF SPENARD

THE HISTORY OF THE FLY BY NIGHT CLUB

MR. WHITEKEYS BIO

 

The History Of A Sleazy Bar
In Spenard, Alaska

"The Fly By Night Club; A palace of sin;
You won't come out; The way you went in."

Charlie was like Alaska's Donald Trump. Except that while "The Donald" was building lavish ritzy hotels and casinos on the East Coast, "The Charles" was building fast food franchises, mini-storage complexes, and singles bars in Spenard.

In 1979 Charlie owned the nightclub on the lake, and everything he had ever touched had turned to gold until now. There were two operations in the same building--The Flying Machine Disco was going great guns, and The Red Baron Hamburger Restaurant wasn't. The manager of The Red Baron had once managed a Wendy's, and his idea of the greatest possible business venture was to copy a Wendy's without paying for the franchise. (That explains why he wound up living in Alaska.) He said it couldn't lose. It was gone in a matter of weeks, and nothing else had worked in that half of the building.

I, Mr. Whitekeys, had played music at the wedding of Charlie and his wife. The marriage was still doing just fine, so one day he said, "Kid, you want the keys to a hopeless operation?" That was the birth of The Fly By Night Club--formerly The Idle Hour, The Lakeshore Club, VFW Post 1689, The Fancy Moose, The Red Baron, The Flying Machine Mexican Restaurant, The Co-Pilot Club, and The Oar House. Our motto was "Going out of business in the same location for over 30 years." The Fly By Night Club opened on July 31, 1980.

I, Mr. Whitekeys, had no bar business training, education or experience, so it was the perfect Alaskan operation. It was a sleazy bar in the sleaziest part of a sleazy town. We added Spam® to the menu a couple of months after we opened. At the time, we had a provisional health permit because the kitchen service was very limited. When we added Spam® to the menu, the Health Department required a full fee permit. The inspector explained, "You have to pay more now that you are serving a hazardous substance."

Everything soon fell into place--the house special had to be Champagne and Spam®. You get any Spam® dish on the menu for half price with any bottle of fine champagne, and Spam® is FREE with Dom Perignon. There's even a "Frequent Spam®mer" card--buy ten and you get one free. What else could you expect from the home of "Spam®, Booze, Rhythm and Blues?" You couldn't lose during The Pipeline Days in Alaska. It was a legendary time. People were rich and crazy, and they didn't have a clue that this wasn't normal everywhere else in the world. Anchorage bars were full of revelers seven nights a week until 5 o'clock in the morning, and they were forced to close for three long dry hours until 8 a.m. The first $100 bottle of Dom Perignon we ever sold was purchased by a Pipeline worker who grabbed it by the neck, chugged half, and the passed the rest around the dance floor.

In 1984, the building on the lake was torn down to make room for The Clarion Hotel which later became The Regal Alaskan and The Millenium Hotels. We took EVERYTHING from the soon-to-be-demolished building and moved it to our current location at 3300 Spenard Road. We took the sinks, the ice machines, the kitchen equipment, the doors, the toilet stalls- everything was moved and re-installed in a Spenard building that had once been Spenard Plumbing, Hank's Hardware, The Kirby Vacuum Store, and The Hangar 18 Video Game Parlor. From the beginning, the music was incredible. Jazz by Mose Allison, Jay McShann, and Ben Sidran. Blues legend Memphis Slim came from Paris to sing "If You See Kay." There was zydeco with Queen Ida, bluegrass with The Red Clay Ramblers, thoroughly insane cowboy yodelling with The Riders In The Sky."

There were legendary times in Spenard like Fisherman's Night. You had to wear streamside apparel, and there was a casting contest to see who could drop a fly into a Margarita from 50 feet. There was Secretary's Night when throngs of ladies brought office supplies and equipment to be crushed under a 10 ton steam roller driven by Hank The Asphalt King. An 8 X 10 glossy of Barry Manilow was run over with two bottles of white-out and a loaf of Spam®. It still adorns the club wall.

Everyday we go to work surrounded by three hundred cases of beer, stacks of Spam®, and piles of T-shirts that read, "Skinny Dick's Halfway Inn." We play rock and roll and tell bathroom jokes we remember from the sixth grade. That may not be the loftiest goal in the world, but it's more productive than anything the Alaska Legislature has done lately.