The Journey to The Pickled Parrot
An analysis of social migration to The Pickled Parrot near closing time
For a lot of people who spend their weekends downtown, three things are certain: death, taxes and ending the night at The Pickled Parrot.
When I turned 21 (three years ago already somehow), I remember a group of regulars who would yell each other’s names and then follow it up with, “… to the Parrot!”
The first time I heard “Turner to the Parrot!” I remember being overcome by curiosity. I had never made the trek down Broadway to the frequently discussed bar. What kind of a place could this be and why do my friends always migrate to it at the end of the night? It all made sense once I capped off a night there.
I later figured out the reason “to the Parrot” was a “thing — because it’s the rendezvous spot for everybody downtown.People move from bar to bar throughout the evening. Groups get separated, and then end up back together at The Parrot. It’s the ideal spot to put an exclamation point on a rowdy evening.
“We get a decent amount of people throughout the night, but it’s definitely busiest close to bar close,” Parrot bartender Samantha Frankl said.
Once one friend posts on social media that he or she (maybe with a new friend) is headed to The Parrot it’s monkey-see-monkey-do from there on out.
Now the Snapchat stories are flooding in, showing everyone’s path to the Parrot. One friend is by Cenex on Main Avenue for some reason, but that’s OK, because he’s going the right way now. Another pal is sprinting down the street from Fort Noks, hollering his name followed by “to the Parrot!” A third person leaves Old Broadway after telling a girl he met, “Wanna go to the Parrot?” One overly lucky individual is eating Drunken Noodle on the go; needs energy for dancing.
Going out and meeting people is the best part of downtown Fargo, and the Parrot’s dance floor is one big plus for ending a night. Unfortunately, I am no longer single so that part of the journey isn’t as exciting as it used to be.
“Its dance floor can hold about a couple hundred people, so they like to come here and have a good time,” said Jordan Allmaras, Fargo, while having a drink at The Parrot.
Sam Herder of Breckenridge, Minnesota, recounted a time he walked in and Loy Ave was playing. The band, which consisted of four men, also from Breckenridge, was doing its own rendition of Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.” The lead singer, Derek Colby, noticed Herder and gave him a shout-out immediately.
“It certainly helps knowing the band at a packed bar,” Herder said. “I lost my group of friends on the dance floor, so I just decided to enjoy a couple songs on the side of the stage. No one likes standing alone at a bar, so I felt a bit awkward. But it all turned around when the lead singer, Derek Colby, saw me in between songs and said, ‘Sup, Sam?’ on the microphone for all to hear.”
Herder joked that it immediately legitimized his social status, which helps when you’re on a dance floor filled with single women.
“Only a place like the Parrot can provide that sort of memory,” Herder said.
Any demographic can enjoy the bar’s environment at the end of the night, which is why a large blend of people pack The Parrot near bar close. The college crowd is its largest demographic, but it’s pretty balanced.
“There’s no cover and the band is pretty universal, per se,” Allmaras said. “Small town, big town, black, white – anybody can come here and they’ll play something they like. Rap music, punk music, rock music, country, anything. Pretty much everyone comes here.”
Once you’ve been to The Parrot a few times, you get drawn to it every time you’re downtown Fargo. It’s almost like your compass is pointing to The Parrot more and more as the night goes on. It’s something that’s in the back of your mind at the beginning of the night and the needle inches a little closer to the Parrot with every drink.
Allmeras said the reason the bar appeals to all is its lack of distinction.
“Especially for downtown bars, every other bar has a genre for what it is, except this bar,” Allmeras said. “You don’t even know what this bar is; you just go there. You got OB, you got Rooters, you got Fort Noks — you kind of know what they are — but you don’t really know what this is.”
The Parrot’s inconsistency is a wonderful thing, which is what a lot of people like about it. But some aspects of it are consistent, but people still struggle to remember (considering they’re not always in the best state of mind late in the night). It’s also usually packed at the door near the end of the night. Some people, me included, forget to use the left door as an entrance. Maybe it’s because I’m used to driving on the right, and that’s why I’m drawn to the other door, but I’m always wrong. Why? Why? Why?
Other people forget they need to have their ID to re-enter when they leave for a smoke. That’s not going to fly with the security staff, with one of them being former NDSU standout LeeVon Perry. For a list of reasons not to mess with him, read this.
Some women might think being on a dance floor after hours of drinking might be a bad idea. If a girl has a problem with a creep making her uncomfortable, other bars might say it’s her own problem, but the Parrot’s security tosses the offenders out right away. If you’re on the dance floor, keep the grabass to a minimum.
“Lately the most people I’ve been kicking out have been creepy guys,” Perry said. “You can’t have people doing that to women for obvious reasons and then the women won’t want to come back either.”
The Parrot’s bartenders are experienced, and even at full capacity, they don’t get rattled during the late-hour rush. Just make sure to use common sense so you don’t waste any of their time.
“I don’t like when I get to someone who is ordering a drink and they have to ask a question like if something is good or not,” Frankl said. “When we’re busy we want people to just have their order ready, because we’re losing money having to wait for them to decide.”
Another unique Parrot touch is beer in Mason jars. Just make sure to have the beer done by 1:45 a.m.
“I had some kid tell me, ‘Man, I’m a broke college kid. You’ve got to let me stay and finish this,’ Perry said. “I told him, ‘If you’re a broke college kid you should know what time we close so you don’t waste your drink.’”
It would also be smart to order a ride home ahead of time, considering Parrot security has everybody out the door by 1:50 a.m. If you’re lucky, it’ll only be Saturday morning when you get home and you can do it all again that next night.