The Global Barfly’s Companion #24 by Josh Dull
Bar: Vinyl Arts Bar
Location: 75 E Colonial Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801
The first time I stepped into the red glow of Vinyl Arts Bar was with Ashley Inguanta and our friend Tara. Though the bar’s grand opening had yet to occur, a few patrons danced to deep house while we sat on plush couches and smoked hookah. Owner Wilson Santos approached us, greeted Ashley with a warm hug and kiss on the cheek, and stood humbly as she praised him for attaining his vision. He shook my hand, told me that his intention with Vinyl Arts Bar was to marry two of his passions – art and nightlife. Plenty of bars around town feature paintings for sale on their walls, and while Vinyl does, Wilson’s appreciation for the arts extends to poetry, performance, music, and dance. All of which exist and thrive within this place, located just outside the urban maelstrom of Downtown Orlando, next to the 7 Eleven and a tattoo shop on Colonial.
Before even having their grand opening, Vinyl was already packed the second time I came. Wilson hosted Demagnetic Cabaret, fusing the haunting eloquence of Ashley Inguanta’s poetry with the abstract, quirky, yet fascinatingly engaging performance of Tony Christy and Laura Mansfield.
Ashley took the audience into her mindscape, a desert beneath glittering stars, and introduced us to the many “unbearable angels” by whom she’s been inspired. As one poem would end, Tony would appear and anything would happen. At one point he had an argument with a recording of himself on his phone. At another point he and Laura played several measures of bass and drums. He would even engage the audience, whether in a demonstration of hugs or “parking” people, where he lassoed myself and three volunteers, then lead us out of the building, into the back parking lot and into a parking spot. In the beautiful weirdness of it all, barriers dropped like veils among everyone in the bar. We didn’t know each other, and we didn’t completely understand what we were seeing, but that was the unifying thing we had in common.
This cohesion made it easier for us to come to the stand after the performance once Wilson opened the floor for open mic poetry. One after the other, we read. Many read original work, some read cover poems. The bar became a group of friends reading poetry to each other, reminiscent of the gatherings read about in Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s circles. For Vinyl’s first event as a venue for the Orlando literary/art scene, it was a roaring success.
The Grand Opening took place on a rainy Saturday evening. Classic deep house reverberated through the speakers and servers moved from couch to table to groups of people standing in the bar area, making sure everyone had a drink in hand, or prime Latin American fare from the new Coconut Latin Grill food truck parked outside. Guests sampled some uniquely crafted cocktails such as the Mixtape Mojito and the Long Island LP, which feature wine-based versions of tequila and rum. Other specially crafted drinks include a Saketini made with chilled sake and wine-based gin, and the Sangria remix. Vinyl stands as the only bar I’ve been to that’s been able to circumvent the lack of a hard liquor license this creatively. As patrons sipped their beverages, conversed, smoked hookah, and danced, local artist Cavan Koebel from RAWDEVIATIONS painted vibrant and colorful artworks on his easel.
Wilson moved through the crowds, making light conversation and ensuring all of his guests were having a great time, which we were.
Vinyl Arts Bar is brand new to both the nightlife and the art scene, but radiates with promise. In addition to open mic poetry slams, Vinyl also features Salsa on Wednesdays, guest DJs for Throwback Thursdays, and other cool and eclectic events. As Vinyl builds momentum, I hope to see it become a permanent fixture in the Orlando Art and Literary scene. It has already had an explosive beginning, and I only see it becoming more successful. Orlando needs places like this.
Josh Dull is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an aspiring fiction author with an emphasis on social issues. He has recently completed his Bachelor’s degree with Honors in the Major from the University of Central Florida. When he isn’t at his computer writing and revising, he enjoys finding new and eclectic venues in the nightlife of whatever city he happens to be in. He currently resides in Orlando, Florida.