Spending a lot of time hanging out at Amigo’s and Rosie’s is like a Portland right of passage, and that’s where I learned firsthand about the wonders of Wharf Street.

Now, as a rule of thumb, I steer clear — these people are not my people. We sat on opposite sides of the lunchroom. I don’t like drinking vodka and Red Bulls or flat iron my hair before “going out.” I look for love in a lot of the wrong places, but one place I know I’m not looking is anywhere near there, and I don’t understand why anyone would. I inadvertently made it down to Wharf Street recently. Let me tell you what happened.

My roommate picked up a second job waiting tables at Havana South, which I’ve lovingly renamed Havana Nights, after the “Dirty Dancing” sequel. It’s on Wharf Street. I broke my self-imposed rule about never going down there, so that she’d have a familiar face around. I nursed my drink for half an hour with my jaw dropped, watching LiveStrong bros and scantily clad women stumble out of one of the craziest bars in the Old Port, 51 Wharf. What I found, in addition to this amazing house-infused ginger bourbon, was that it provided me a safe, quiet, bird’s eye view. I’ve never been inside that place, but I will tell you a friend was once approached by someone who seriously said, “You look familiar. Did we hook up in the bathroom at 51 Wharf?” I’d always known that these people existed in Portland, but not in my Portland.

The following Saturday, I thought it might be worth documenting. I showed up with my laptop and my L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag, completely out of place. There was only room for me on the patio, so that’s where I parked for the next hour and a half, vulnerable to the crowd.

There were vodka and Red Bulls on special for $5. A gold disco ball mini-dress. A pregnant lady. An I HEART Bacon t-shirt. There were girls riding piggy-back and/or walking barefoot. Onlookers would never know this was Maine, one of the whitest states in the country, judging by the amount of nonwhite people walking by. Other girls were getting escorted to the front of the line just for being hot. The DJ shouted something about ladies and shots. Five different bachelorette parties. One bachelorette, wearing a pink sparkly cowgirl hat nearly drunkenly wanders off from her friends. Girls walking on the cobblestone looked like they were impersonating crabs walking on eggshells so their heels won’t get caught. The music from 51 Wharf and the club next door was so loud I couldn’t make out either song. Through the window there’s a bottle of liquor on fire with a sparkler sticking out and a cocktail waitress with blinking test tube shots. People were getting wasted. I left before closing, which was a mistake. Shortly after I left, I later heard, a small brunette girl got arrested for punching a police officer in the face. It was like an episode of “Cops.”

After all the time I spent watching the door, my guess is the whole point is to get wasted and then rub your privates on someone you can barely see because it’s so dark, and you’re drunk, then possibly hook up. And people really, really wanted to get in. I’m certainly no prude, but that will never be my idea of a good time. I don’t live on the Jersey Shore, I live on Munjoy Hill.


  1. “Onlookers would never know this was Maine, one of the whitest states in the country, judging by the amount of nonwhite people walking by.” So the non-whiteness of the crowd is supposed to be a contributing factor to the prestige (or lack of) wharf street? I’m hoping you didn’t intend that comment to be as racist as it is. Also, I hope your idea of good writing isn’t sitting by the bars on Wharf street and judging people by their manner of dress and drunkenness. You’ve made it clear that your L.L. Bean toting self is highly superior to the half-dressed. Now that we have established this, how about you go find something interesting and eye-opening to write about, rather than judge people from across the street on a Saturday night? A few interviews from drunken college students might have been more interesting than your subjective opinions of them.


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