Here we encounter the first philosophical dilemma concerning what does and doesn’t constitute Columbus proper. The rule of thumb I eventually decided upon is that if a suburb at least touches the 270 outerbelt, then it’s still part of the city in my book. Therefore Hilliard and Dublin are fair game, say, while I wouldn’t really say the same about Pickerington, or Canal Winchester. In this spirit then Gahanna makes the cut, which means we can discuss the Alumni Club in our little historical canon.
For a spot this far removed from our typical stomping grounds, it’s safe to say we have collectively visited the Alumni Club far more than any other destination this distant. This I guess is all the proof needed that what you might call the 3 P’s really matter: people, programs, and policies. For there’s nothing all that remarkable about this establishment, and the location itself is just your average humdrum strip mall. Still they have managed to craft a charming enterprise here, one which always entertains for a variety of reasons.
Located at the absolute northeast edge of town, at 395 Stoneridge Lane, I can think of at least four different eras/crews/themes drawing me and some of my friends to this spot on the map. One such iteration would be a fairly happening karaoke operation which, while lamentable in that this phenomenon pretty much wiped out live music in a lot of places, that didn’t happen here – and anyway who among us can claim we never once fell upon this scourge’s sway? Exactly.
At any rate, points two and three both concern live music. For many years, the always entertaining cover song specialist AJ Angelo held court here, and he was a steady draw, as he is everywhere, not to mention that he’s great with the fans and in general seems like a genuinely cool dude. Aside from that, unique for a place like this, they also hosted an open stage acoustic jam night. Not only that, but patrons were encouraged to and often did run on stage with cash, which they would hand to, throw at, or stuff into the pockets of performing musicians. I’ve actually never seen this anywhere else, and on more than one night my friend Damon was able to pay for his beer tab as a result of their warm reception to his Neil Young covers.
Finally, this place would appear to have a better reputation than you might expect for a place that doesn’t exactly advertise everywhere, nor cater to the younger, OSU campus laden clientele. For example somehow Damon and I once met a pair of strippers up in Mansfield who decided to drive down the next weekend to hang out with us. Barely of a legal drinking age themselves – and even that might have been suspect – these two nonetheless suggest the Alumni Club for some reason, before they even made the drive down. We’re not sure how or why they chose this hangout, when a million others would have seemed better suited to their demographic, but what can you say, the Alumni Club has always been a happening spot, and the best Gahanna has to offer.
The four of us hung out there all night…well, at least up until the point they followed us back to our place, got pulled over by the cops somewhere around Morse and Cleveland, before b.s.ing their way through it somehow and finally arriving intact. To, among other things, write their “names” in bleach on our living room wall, claiming that it would only show up under a black light. Ixnay on both fronts, in case you’re wondering.