Fedoras, blazers, high-fives and hellos permeated the posh yet casual atmosphere at one of North Jersey’s most civil lounges, Ultra Bar, which also boasts an impressive dance floor of club-size standard. My haphazard birthday visit was as exploratory as a science experiment, in that I’ve never gone to a bar, lounge or club of any sort (I’m more the dinner-and-a-movie type). Nonetheless, I had rip-roaring time with friends, family and my winsome fiancé, Jenn (without ever getting crunked!).
Depending on your bar-drinking preference, the colorfully dim Ultra Bar retains three interdependent bars for your choosing.
Under dazzling ceiling decor, amidst a cloud of dance-floor smoke and enclosed by plenty of damsels and dudes, the first is a monstrous, 50-foot island in the main room that allows for plenty of sitting space, granted patrons are punctual (late-birds never catch the worm). Surrounding this immense fountain of booze, on a higher level than the bar itself and away from the lively dance floor, are several quiet, two-seater booths, as well as larger lounge areas to accommodate bigger parties, where occasional sparkles spewed from champagne bottles.
Through a tiled hallway and padded walls, passed spotless bathrooms and the money-eating ATM, there lies the second drinking area, a mini-bar as effective as the first, despite its size. It’s nuzzled right near the more intimate lounging chasms, where more “intimate” happenings went down. Don’t look there, lest you go blind.
Although it was a brisk 45 degrees, the bar unleashed the spacious beauty of its outdoor patio, where twisted sunflower-patterned streamers embellished the air and tiki torches forecasted a torrid and pleasant summer. While soft hues of sapphire and cherry beamed on couples and hopefuls alike, most sat comfortably on cushioned benches around candlelit tables, perfectly conducive to carousing and socializing. Unfortunately, the tiki bar was not opened when we went (Saturday, April 24), which disappointed many tiki bar lovers.
Even though there were other disappointments ––including sudden drizzling, the lack of Stella, the cash-only rule at the door, the absence of coat-checking, the DJ’s limited play list (we wanted “Lasciate Mi Cantare”!), the sometimes disorienting strobe lights (which at one point made me lose sight of my fiancé!) and a weighty number of men “pumping their fists,” as they call it––the good outweighed the bad at Ultra Bar, especially when it came to joking about clumsy dancers who would’ve been better off gyrating their hips at home…alone.
With remixed and typical techno, house and R&B hits like Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” Fat Joe’s “Lean Back,” Estefan’s “Conga” (a real throwback) and recent chart-topper “Don’t Stop” by Kesha, which brought droves to the 25-to-30-foot-long dance deck, Ultra Bar’s DJ was as selectively eclectic as he was skilled in technical backspins, breaks, cross fades and looping. An electric-blue spinning chandelier jazzed the already bubbly crowd while the DJ continued surprising with soaring sirens and mixed rhythms that almost made me forget the night’s cost.
Ladies are free before 11:00 pm, but guys will have to make do with paying $10, a rather sexist strategy if I say so myself. A helpful tip: BRING CASH. The bar has a sneaky $30 policy limit on credit cards, which forced us to open up a tab and drink a little more than we expected. Our bill amounted to exactly $36 for three Sprite-and-vodkas and two Bud Lights, excluding tip. You be the judge.
Starting with the brawny bouncer to the cashier to our attentive bartender (although scantily clad and exposed), the service was exceptional. It was thebouncer who whispered that I needed cash in order not to embarrass me. Even though I’ve reached a maximum level of comfort with Jenn in those cashless circumstances, it was a thoughtful gesture!
An abundance of parking is located on bystreets right off Cedar Lane, where Ultra Bar’s entrance, although advertised, is not located. Drive right around to Water Street through American Legion Drive, and you’ll see your final festive destination just across from NJ grocery hub, Stop & Shop.
To the hopeful men, I can’t promise you’ll find a lucky lady, as I had my gaze fixed on my one-and-only all night. But you can go try, and let me know how it turns out for you! Actually don’t; I don’t care.
Lucky ladies, most of the men seemed warm and genial (since two shoulder bumps were followed by an apologetic “excuse me”), but, being the old-fashioned type, I have to warn you to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing! If you do happen upon a significant other, you’ll be glad to know there’s an out-of-place photo booth, like those in the mall, for you to take pictures with your newfound beloved.
That said, I cannot say I’ll go back to Ultra Bar. I know, I know, “Then why such a great review?” you ask? Because I’m simply and objectively reporting my experience. Again, I’d much rather dabble with friends at a diner, try out a popular eatery, catch up on culture by renting a classic blockbuster while eating leftover pizza with Jenn or, seriously, getting my God on at church. But if you’re idea of a dynamic night is lounging comfortably or dancing wildly at a well-kept bar while drinking martinis out of trumpet-shaped glasses, go to Ultra Bar with friends and drink responsibly!