The Speakeasy has always been a great place for a party, but since the change in ownership earlier this year, the bar has become one of the premier destinations for Oklahoma nightlife and live music. A wide spectrum of personalities frequent the bar, which boasts an atmosphere that welcomes anyone. The owners, Henri Bailey and brothers Greg and Mike Bustamante, are creative entrepreneurs who are directly responsible for the rise of the Speakeasy as a city favorite since its founding in 2007.
I decided on going to the Halloween party after a conversation with Greg, who mentioned the huge crowds that gathered for regularly scheduled dance parties put on by popular OKC comedian, radio show host and DJ Ryan Drake. What better way to increase dance floor density than with a corresponding costume party? Judging by the massive turnout, this was a brilliant idea.
A bar for the stage area is the place for high energy, loud music loving types. In the room next door, there is a second bar that caters to the somewhat milder mannered ones and is an environment more conducive to deep discussion, relaxation and romance. (I should know about the romantic element because it's where I took my wife on our first date—thanks Speak!)
In addition to the two downstairs, a third bar upstairs is enjoyed by sports fans. When I wandered upstairs there was a group of patrons huddled around a big screen, hypnotized by game 4 of the World Series and cheering on the Chicago Cubs. The upstairs bar not only has big screens and sports fans but also has a pool table, arcade games, a jukebox, foosball and shuffleboard. There is plenty of seating both upstairs and downstairs, with many private and reclusive areas for those who prefer a nook to discuss espionage or a cranny to woo a prospective lover.
Speaking of privacy, the Speakeasy’s versatile spaces make it a unique host for private events. It can accommodate anything from an upstairs wedding party complete with bar, restrooms and patio, to a top secret gathering in a closed off room that doubles as a green room for touring bands.
Late nights aren't the only time to enjoy what the Speakeasy has to offer. It recently opened a kitchen which runs Tuesday through Friday from 4-9pm and college football Saturdays from 3-10pm. Some of the favorite dishes are nachos, Baja fish tacos, gouda stuffed meatballs and Speak O Rings. The owners plan to add more menu items in the near future.
When I got back downstairs there was a massive projector screen pulled down behind the stage and local hip-hop/soul band Bowlsey presenting to fans a sneak peak of its fresh new music video for the songs “Wunderbar” and “Voodoo”. I was hooked on the band’s original lyrics, deep rooted back beat and retro organ overtones after Bowlsey played Red Brick Nights in my hometown of Guthrie, so getting to see their new video on a big screen was a nice surprise.
Back inside, the intimate lighting and darker colored walls provided the perfect backdrop for the faux spider webs and candlelight that made for a very realistic haunted house look. As a man dressed as Dracula entered and rounded out the Halloween atmosphere, the stage stood ready for Ryan Drake to begin.
No one gets a crowd pumped up quite like Drake. When he kicked off with "Thriller", the dance floor turned into a giant moving blur of glow sticks, balloons and rowdy twenty-somethings. The Speakeasy’s strobes, lasers, smoke machine and sound system provided a party experience not often found outside of the downtown club scene. Drake played songs to which everyone could sing and dance from the Ghostbusters theme to Backstreet Boys and Rage Against The Machine. When Dr. Dre hit the speakers, there were a handful of people already on stage with Drake by the first lyric. No one stood still, everyone was smiling, and everyone had a good time.
Horse Thief, which got its start playing local venues like and including the Speakeasy, kicks off an international tour there this Friday, November 4, with openers Paper Planes and Gabriel Knight Hancock.
If dance parties are your thing, though, Ryan Drake DJs there every month with his Speakeasy 90’s-00’s Dance Party series.