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Open Tab: Kill Devil Club juggles a dual personality

Andrea Olsen

Special to Ink

When I introduce myself as a nightlife columnist, I think the first assumption is that my weekends are a full rotation of wild parties. Although it sounds contradictory, sometimes I prefer going out on slower weeknights. You don’t have to fight for the bartender’s attention, wait in bathroom lines or navigate crowds.

It’s refreshing when you find a bar that is just as fun when it’s crowded as it is on a quiet night. The Kill Devil Club, at 31 E. 14th St., is one of them.

On a Friday, Kill Devil offers nothing short of a roaring party. Big bands crowd every inch of the stage, and couples dance nearby, dipping and twirling around whatever space they can find. Bartenders fly around in a frenzy, trying to keep up with the demands of thirsty revelers.

Don’t even think about getting a table without a reservation on the weekend. Those left without a seat fill the open areas, dodging waitresses balancing drink trays, eyeing the concoctions as they float by. No one seems to mind the lack of personal space; they’re more interested in watching the band.

On weeknights, the scene is a little different. Homegrown Wednesdays at the Kill Devil showcase a set schedule of low-key performances. The smaller crowds give way to ample seating and a chance to admire the dark decor, great skyline views and candles flickering on each table. One singer sits onstage with an acoustic guitar, interacting with the small audience. Everything feels more relaxed, like staying home with a big glass of wine.

With things slowed down the atmosphere feels even sexier — dark and private. Couples are tucked away in the leather booths, carving out their own piece of the club. This version of the Kill Devil is perfect for the type of date where you’re still getting to know the other person.

The Kill Devil has an extensive drink menu, which includes a variety of elaborate cocktails and a broad selection of rum. The only downfall of craft cocktails is the time it takes to put a drink together. On a crowded night, that means a little patience is necessary.

For Homegrown Wednesdays, all house cocktails are only $5, almost half off the weekend price. And watching the bartenders is just as entertaining as the band, so the barstools offer the best seat in the house. For a real show order a Smoke on Smoke, a drink that pays tribute to the flavors of Kansas City barbecue. The drink is ignited, leaving a smoky taste in your mouth and the smell of campfire in the air.

Before I visited the Kill Devil, I assumed they would offer only jazz music. As it turns out, I’ve seen rappers, soul bands and acoustic performers take the stage. And it couldn’t be further from the atmosphere at the nearby Power & Light. Here you won’t find alcoholic energy drinks and sugary shots, no flashing lights and pulsing bass. But on a Friday night, the bar is just as energetic as the clubs across the street.

Crowded bars and intimate venues both have their merits, and I tend to prefer one extreme or the other. I think dance clubs work only when they’re packed, and sometimes I’d rather be at a quiet bar where it feels like I’m the only one there. It’s rare when you can find a bar that exhibits both sides of the spectrum, but the Kill Devil Club pulls it off with ease.

Andrea Olsen is a weekly contributing columnist who writes about her adventures in Kansas City. She’s never met a dive bar she didn’t love. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram: andrealolsen


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