Western Michigan University NIGHTLIFE Review, Part II: The Y-Bar

I’m not sure what the “Y” in Y-Bar stands for, nor do I possess a burning desire to uncover the truth behind the enigmatic letter, so feel free to come up with your own theories. The ironic thing is that the venue is not really a bar, but a dance club, so the owner(s) should consider a name-change.


I would say Y-Bar is easily the most loved and hated venue in Kalamazoo. The borderline ostentatious nature of the neon decor and its sexualized clientele will obviously arouse emotions of (self)loathing in reticent, sexually-undesirable geeks and affection in those who thrive on peacocking their physical wares and trying their hand at fucking the hottest thing moving that night. In my time in Kalamazoo, I’ve heard many dubious descriptions about the place, usually from people who’ve never actually set foot in it. One kid called it “for the fags,” another claimed that “it’s for fucking pussies,” and one other guy tried to tell me that the Thursday-night alcohol-powered shitshow was “nothing but douche-queers and sluts.” Okay, I can understand the animus towards the douches but, c’mon, there is absolutely nothing wrong with women who prefer their legs at obtuse angles.

Personally, I would describe Y-bar as the lovechild of a big-city club that accidentally dumped its load in an abandoned Midwestern warehouse one fateful, Molly-addled night. Y-Bar is the most honest place in Kalamazoo because you have the kids that actually run the Kalamazoo bar circuit presenting who they really are: upper-middle class kids from “the East Side,” Chicago, or some faraway country like Arabia Land or Domincanica. This place is about high-heels, muscle V-necks, short dresses, and button-down (non-plaid) shirts. I’m not saying that this is the club of America’s 1%, but it’s definitely a place for the 5-10%.

Of course, ensuring that the bar stays 5% means that the owners have had to apply a few preventative measures to ensure that the “undesirables” stay the fuck away. Over the summer, a common grievance among many of Y-Bar’s patrons was that the bar had gotten “too ghetto,” which is, of course, code-name for the fact that there were:

a. Too many black people
b. Too many poor people
c. Too many people who are both black and poor

Y-Bar’s management, ever receptive to their clientele’s sensitivities (something Grotto ought to take note of), instituted a couple of reforms to ensure Kalamazoo’s vagrants and vagabonds stayed on their side of town, namely:

1. Instituting an exorbitant $15 cover charge for anybody without a college ID, $5 for people with non-Western (read: community college) ID’s, and…

2. Raising their prices. The “drink special” night at Y-Bar isn’t really a night of drink specials, and they’ve sneakily raised the price on every drink by fifty whole cents in the past couple of weeks. It’s almost cheaper to bring your own coke into the bathroom and shoot a few bumps.

Basically if you can’t afford college (or afford to go into debt for it), you’re too poor for Y-Bar. Stay the fuck away. I mean, I do understand the problem with allowing chumps with shitty neck tattoos who sell brick weed out of their grandma’s house to enter a “classy” place like Y-Bar to lasciviously stare down (rightfully) frightened sluts but, hey, maybe there’s a really sweet poor, black kid out there who’s ready to make some rich white girl’s dreams come true. *cough*

Thursday at Y-Bar is, quite literally, the best place to get laid in a Kalamazoo venue that doesn’t start with “Deja” and end with “Vu”. It has its off-weeks but, when it’s on, it’s on. You won’t find the sheer quantity of horny, attractive women within Y-Bar’s walls anywhere else in the city, and it’s one of the only places that can actually boast about not being a total cockfest (most of the time). My personal record for achieving a Y-Bar hook-up (with a stranger) is roughly 45 minutes from the moment I walked up to her to the moment my un-lubed meatrocket was at the precipice of her gaping love-funnel. My companions have accomplished insta-hookups at Y-Bar in similar times, so I believe I possess statistically significant data that verifies the thesis of this paragraph.


I have nothing bad to say about Y-Bar’s service. It smells normal and the staff are amicable enough for me to feel like I’m not walking into a warzone. The bouncers take their jobs a little more seriously than the dudes at Grotto, as they’re really strict on the driver’s license/college ID presentation combo at the door, but I’ve still gotten to cut some pretty epic lines just for knowing them. They’re also really protective about the venue: I once saw them manhandle some kid WWE-style who tried to destroy the tiki torches they light in the summer months. One bouncer put the poor kid in the Boston Crab position and demanded he tap out before allowing him to leave the premises.

The bartenders are all female, with the exception of maybe one guy on certain nights. That said, they’re excellent. No shitty attitudes, they’re all attractive, and you can tell that they actually care about doing a good job. I credit the manager for this one, because it’s clear that he’s adamant about running a quality place. Even on a busy night, the bartenders will have a drink for you in no less than three or four minutes, which is saying a lot given the sheer number of bodies that crowd around certain sections of the bar.

If you’re a douche, Malaysian, or a boss, there’s bottle service available. However, the only people I’ve ever seen take advantage of it are douches and Malaysians, so it’s probably not even worth it unless you’re keen on making clear your 5% status and cannot be seen waiting at bars for drinks like the rest of the peasantry.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the space heater that the Y-Bar management set up in the smoking section. I like an establishment that gives a damn about whether or not I hypothermiate when I wear a V-neck muscle shirt in February.


Y-Bar actually gets a DJ, which means that their music is as good as it’s going to get in West Michigan unless they decide to import Tiesto. I’ve even heard a few of the DJ’s sneak in some underground shit every once in a while, and I like that. That aside, expect to hear a weird mish-mash of remixed hip-hop tracks with an occasional shitty song or two by Enrique Iglesias or Chris Brown to make sure the playlist isn’t too masculine.

The dance floor will be invariably packed on Thursday and is usually pretty full on Fridays. It takes up roughly half of the club’s square-footage and also includes a stage for you to dance on if you’re an attention whore. If your internet connection is on the fritz at home, you can always come to Y-Bar’s dance floor Thursday night to sear some quality, live softcore porn into the back of your retinas before going home to rub one out. It’s better than nothing.


The shittiest prices in Kalamazoo, by far. Like I’ve said before, their main special night (Thursday) isn’t even a special night. It’s $3.50 per drink which is actually more expensive than the $3 that Grotto charges on the same day. You really gotta buy that 5% status, guys!


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