If you’ve ever visited the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, you have some conception of what it is to experience the queue process required simply to get to Sky Bar at midnight on a Saturday.
In both instances, clustered masses impatiently await their turn for an elevator ride that is to take them to the main spectacle. Abrasively shrill screams ring out all around from people with no regard for the fragility of the human eardrum. Most importantly, there’s an apprehensive nausea accompanying those anxious about the approaching experience, which at both the Tower of Terror and Sky Bar involves a series of “drops.”
In the case of the Hollywood Studios ride, those drops are in relation to stomach-churning vertical plunges. Pertaining to Sky Bar, they represent the switch of bass line in an electronic track capable of making any millennial throw their hands up in exhilaration.
Located on the roof of D’Arcy McGee’s, Sky Bar’s opening marked a significant development for Buffalo’s budding electronic dance music scene. Years later, the summer club is oddly devoid of any obvious signage indicating its existence, so first-timers would do well to be led by someone who knows of its clandestine entrance or who can drunkenly retrace their steps à la Todd Wolfhouse in “Beerfest.”
Sky Bar boasts a well-implemented floor plan, featuring two square bar areas a few yards apart, situated vertically below an overlooking DJ booth. Each is highlighted by a changing multicolored lighting system that complements the ravelike atmosphere. An analogous set of stairs at the far end leads up to a third bar area. On this particular Saturday, each bar section was adequately manned by a personable and quick-moving staff, so even as the crowd began pouring in, wait times for drinks held at a reasonable pace.
To the left of the roof are a host of cabanas intended for VIP bottle service, though with no real separation from the general bar area. They look equipped to offer either a small respite from the huddled crowd or an inherent sense of claustrophobia. The back left corner also features a small, raised dancing platform to test your sobriety level.
In addition to the $5 cover at the door, drinks were seemingly set at a tolerable $5 apiece. You won’t get much variation in the beer selection (Molson, Labatt, Bud Light, Corona), and depending on who mixes your drink, those cans may be your best option. My Jameson on the rocks was mostly rocks.
Even for those who prefer their weekend bar of choice to feature fewer neon lights, softer music and fewer people, there’s something undeniably enchanting about sipping a drink amidst the Buffalo skyline on a warm summer evening. The Liberty Building and others loom in the distance, and the observation deck of City Hall is perceptible, as the twin towers of Key Center and their distinctive bright florescent green trim illuminate the night sky. It’s a panorama impressive enough to fully remind you of the exceptionality of Buffalo’s architectural identity.
One last elevator ride concludes the night, yet with the intoxicated abrasiveness that crams into the doors, those three floors can easily feel like a trip from the top of Sears Tower. In short, and not unlike the Tower of Terror, Sky Bar is an experience that deserves to be journeyed if for nothing else but the sake of posterity – even if the very notion initially nauseates you to the core.