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The ambitions of a fledgling night spot like Flying DD are various — too complicated, in fact — to simply pre-judge the way that one is inclined to do when spying photos of bikini-clad ladies all over its website. I was fully expecting one of those cavernous, low-decor warehouses you sometimes find in SEC college towns that traffic in chicken wings and weekly Jello wrestling for broke coeds. While Flying DD is attached somewhat oddly to the back of what appears to be a body shop on South University, just a beat from the UALR campus, it's not exactly bereft of ambience or too concerned with compromising the virtues of intoxicated young women. And that's saying a lot, because I happened to attend on the evening of one of their "Naughty Nightie" contests.
Flying DD (pronounced Flying D's) is the creation of local entrepreneur/man-about-town Wally Waller. He opened the bar in October hoping to provide a "playground for adults" atmosphere with great live music piped in through a spanking-new sound system and never blasting so loud you can't enjoy yourself. He's brought a crew of experienced night-life folk to helm what seems to be styled as your casual neighborhood beer joint — both a bartender and the house DJ, Doc Bryce, were insistent that everyone in the bar knew everyone, it was a very casual, chill experience where you didn't have to behave or feel like you weren't among friends. And it was true, to an extent. Even when my friend and I were approached about possibly entering as contestants in the "Naughty Nightie" contest, it wasn't that uncomfortable.
Stated plainly: This is a bar where you party. They have numerous drink specials and gimmicks, one trumping the next. Two-dollar Tuesdays too much for you? Try $1 Wednesdays, where you can swill accompanied by a DJ set. They offer karaoke not once but twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. If you come on a Thursday, they have $5 pitchers and it's pretty good stuff on tap: Shiner, Dos Equis, Blue Moon, along with your domestics. They also make a pretty good margarita, which you can slurp for $3 every Monday. Starting this week, they'll have four DJs for a $5 cover every Friday.
At present, the live music offerings at Flying DD take place mostly on the weekends. Generally, they'll have at least one night of live music a week, featuring every kind of genre you can imagine: country bands, reggae-fusion, classic-rock inspired outfits like Liquid Kitty or Four on the Floor, and nu-rock/metal acts like Jacksonville's Blind Mary. Because of the familiar neighborhood-feel of the venue, Flying DD currently hosts a lot of special-event parties and birthday parties, which, with its "adult playground" mission, seems like an ideal fit.
Another bonus: They have food. They open for lunch every day and serve vittles on through the night 'til last call. Waller said they pride themselves on their fresh sandwiches (especially in a part of town where you'd be hard-pressed to find any). There's also a special menu section of "Bar Food," including your standard hot dogs, Frito pie, and cheese dip. Personally, I always love a drinking establishment that bothers to serve food past 10 p.m.
Now, despite the bar's structural quirks (you have to walk down a hallway past Waller's office to get to the bathrooms, near a cluster of local businesses that inhabit the front), Flying DD offers a lot of great open space. The back of the bar opens up with industrial garage doors onto an extensive patio area and beach-volleyball court (they're currently recruiting team sign-ups for the spring league). A warm breeze tinged with cigarette smoke wafted in from outside. The furniture inside is a little hodge-podge, some comfy stools and clusters of sofas. Overall, its non-aesthetic is, in itself, a kind of aesthetic, like a good South Austin dive bar: a cement box outfitted with a glorified porch. It's a charming setup, and I haven't been anywhere else in Little Rock that offers anything quite like it.
The "Naughty Nightie" contest kicked off around midnight, and there were five mostly last-minute entrants. As DJ Doc explained to me, a "naughty" nightie could really be anything — a pair of boxers, a teddy, just your bra and panties. He assured me that most of the $100 prizewinners usually go for the "girl next door look." One contestant had recently turned 18 and had all the sweet, ungainly poise of a young woman not yet sure of what to do with herself. A few were very cute and very suggestively clad college girls (fancy, shiny underwear), and one was a tall tattooed and dark-haired type, who elected to compete in a modification of what she came to the bar wearing: a push-up bra, cutoff shorts rolled down so that you could see the top of her mismatched panties. Much as Doc predicted, it was she, the contestant who expended the least amount of effort, who took first place.