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working in (not at/for) bars and lounges

I wanted to go out dancing this evening. The Sweatbox crew have a monthly residency at the Baltic Room called "Off the Deep End", and apparently it's free. Instead, I'm not even half a block away at Bauhaus, doing some editing work. I don't really mind—it's good to have work to do, of course, and I already have plans to go see Hotels tomorrow night at the Sunset Tavern. The work is also lighter than I expected, enough that I'm thinking about dropping by anyhow, though I don't really want to be there with my computer in my backpack and have to worry about that. But I'm even thinking that it might've been fun just to go lounge there—if I could find a free couch and table upstairs—to do my work, skipping the dancing. I know I'd like the background music (although it might be a bit loud for concentrating on work), and I've often thought it'd be nice to go out to a bar or lounge in the evenings to do work, rather than to a coffee shop.

I have a few reservations about that idea. One is that the place has to have a good atmosphere for working. That shouldn't be too hard—Bauhaus Coffee for example is always playing loud music and has a lot of people coming and going or passing by, so there are plenty of distractions and yet I'm able to work here. However, at the coffee shops people are generally there to work or at least socialize amongst their own group; I think at a bar I'd be slightly more likely to have random people attempt to start a conversation with me. Another reservation is that at most coffee shops, I can get a hot chocolate and a snack and be good for a few hours without feeling obliged to get anything else—if I'm there a really long time I might get a second drink or snack, but generally it's okay as long as I've got something. At a bar, I'd feel more obliged to get an alcoholic drink because soda is negligible, cheap snack food generally is not an option (or else it's some kind of appetizer I don't really want or won't finish), and I don't (yet) feel comfortable with the idea that I could just hang out there for a few hours working while having had just one drink (if alcoholic). A third reservation is more practical: my laptop battery power is limited, particularly if I'm doing work (which means I'm running Windows at the same time, which I believe is a greater power drain than just running the Mac OS by itself as usual), and bars don't usually seem to have readily-accessible power outlets. A final reservation would be finding a place with free WiFi access, as I actually do often need Internet access in order to do my work (and not just to have distractions for taking a break from work). 

i know all of those reservations can be easily overcome, and I know some people do go out and do work in bars. I just haven't felt strongly enough to try stepping into some places and seeing if I can work there. I have been thinking about trying the recently-opened White Rabbit in Fremont, because they do advertise that they have free WiFi and because they're right near my home so it's an easy walk. Plus, I've been there once already for a show, so I have a general idea of the seating availability and comfort level. (And they're actually billing themselves as a "comfortable cafe" during the afternoon for hanging out.) But I know they also do live music in the evenings, and that's the kind of busy noisy atmosphere that won't work. A more lounge-like place such as the Baltic Room, with DJs spinning rather than a live band, would be better; but the Baltic Room also probably won't be a good option as it's a dance club more than a lounge. I should ask around for suggestions, but I'm not even sure who I could ask—as I said, I know some people will go out to a pub or bar to do work, but my feeling is that it isn't that common. But then how would I know, as I'm not doing it myself.

Recently when I was out with my computer headed home from a coffee shop and thinking about how I still had work to do and didn't particularly feel like staying in at home yet, it occurred to me that part of my objection is just the idea or image of lugging my backpack in to a bar and hefting out the laptop. I realized that if I had an iPad, I would feel a lot more casual and relaxed about bringing that in to a bar and hanging out. I probably couldn't do that for work—I've made a point of having Windows installed on my laptop and using the Windows version of Microsoft Office when doing my work, just to be certain that what I'm looking at will be the same as what my clients have seen and will see. But still, I suddenly had a stronger interest in getting an iPad than I have so far. Right now there's no way I can justify the expense, but down the road if I can get things together, I'd like to make that happen.


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