This past Thursday afternoon I knocked off work a little early to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in a while for happy hour. I had texted him maybe an hour or so earlier to see if he would like to get together for a beer. Turns out he was in downtown at a conference and I was about to ride through downtown on my way home. We conjured a quick mental geography of his location, my location and likely spots where our paths could easily intersect and settled on the Denver Beer Company on Platte Street. Done.
It occurred to me as I was enjoying my IPA while waiting on my friend to arrive that the very essence of happy hour, at least for me, is its quintessentially urban quality. I suppose it’s the spontaneity of it all. I mean, my favorite happy hours are unplanned, last-minute opportunities to connect with people when the mood strikes. The whole Hey-want-to-get-together?-I’m-here-Where-are-you? aspect to it is a big part of the “happy”-ness, I think. Some may say, no, it’s the discounted drinks and food that put the happy in happy hour but I cannot agree. Really, it’s the people you connect with that make the celebration special. And cities simply cannot be beat for making it easy to get together with friends or whomever on a moments notice. As soon as this spontaneity is lost so is the allure because once you start scheduling a get together in advance at a proscribed place it starts to feel like a date or an obligation. Anything but an opportunity.
My friend showed up and we proceeded to have a great time enjoying each other’s company and getting up to speed on each other’s lives. Then, surprise, a pizza floats by our table (obviously a guy was carrying it but I’m sure you get the image). “Where’d that come from,” we thought because DBC doesn’t serve that kind of food. Unbeknownst to us, while we were chatting away, the Basic Kneads Pizza food truck had pulled up outside and begun serving the serious eats. Cool! We quickly ordered a pie. Our already happy hour had just gone into overtime!
Eventually though, it was time to move along. But what a great, unscripted evening – friends, people, place, proximity, opportunity and surprise. In the end I’ve realized that it’s the city that makes the hour happy. What about cities fuels your happy?