If You Have An Axe To Grind, This Is Your Place
When I told a friend I was going to a hatchet-throwing bar, he deadpanned, “oh what could possibly go wrong here!?”
That’s kind of what I was thinking. It seemed a bit of an odd combination – I mean sharp objects combined with booze – but after conducting some research I discovered that these axe clubs are kind of a new thing in nightlife in the USA and Canada.
I had been advised ahead of time not to wear open-toed shoes, so I was on my toes to prevent anything from happening to any parts of my body. Another friend suggested I show up in a suit of armor.
So I wasn’t sure what exactly what to expect when I walked into LA AX in Los Angeles, but it sure wan’t anything I had envisioned ahead of time.
I guess I was expecting a nice, polished new bar with tall tables, TVs showing sports, a bar with upscale “speciality” cocktails and rows of taps with craft beer, a full menu featuring items with theme names such as “bury the hatchet nachos” and waitresses dressed with a bloody axe sticking out of their back like a horror Halloween costume.
But it was not like that at all. I walked into a busy, buzzing open-air large room with a row of cages lined up next to each other and loud “pops” from the sounds of hatchets hitting tall blocks of wood with a target pained on them.
There was a small bar on rollers to one side serving tall cans of beer and wines and the only “club” atmosphere to it was classic rock music pumping loudly through speakers.
I walked around in kind of aa daze for a few moments trying to take it all in and then, since all the cage-throwing areas were full, I grabbed a beer.
Well, why not, right!?
I took a couple sips of a tall can of good Pale Ale – liquid courage in my case, for I’m not a lumberjack and that’s okay (did you get the Monty Python reference?) – and presented myself to an instructor.
Yes, they had instructors. Thank goodness. Mine was friendly and patient – and seemed overly trustworthy considering I confessed I had never before held an axe.
“No problem,” he said. “Hold your hand on the bottom, put the other hand over the top if it, lean back and then step into the throw. Don’t use your wrists.”
To me, this seemed similar to a golf swing, except your arms are over your head.
And much to my astonishment, I hit the target! Stuck it, in fact. The axe made a loud whack sound and lodged in the top left part of the circle.
Subsequent throws did produce near the same results and I had trouble getting it to stay anywhere on the wood block. I kept wanting to bend my wrists.
Overall, I made a couple dozen throws but what I really enjoyed was watching and talking with others. This, I realized was a great social activity. One could celebrate a good throw, laugh at a bad one, high-five strangers and chuckle at – and with – them.
And let me say there were quite a few very nice looking girls in the place. Could this be a new singles thing in L.A.!? Maybe that’s why they are so popular elsewhere.
After I got over my fear, if you can call it, that of throwing an axe and being in a place that had them flying around like drones at a concert, I relaxed and really began to enjoy the place. That’s when it clicked; you throw a few times, step back to watch others, then mingle with other “throwers.”
And yes, have a few beers. I don’t think anyone would be foolish enough to stumble into the cages if they became a little tipsy, or step in front of someone throwing to get a “look how cool I am” selfie. Or to try and throw and axe if they are overly buzzed.
In fact, the staff and instructors would not let that happen, and I quickly forgot about any “beer and ax throwing” negative scenarios.
Perhaps my original vision of LA AX (a clever play on words of the Los Angeles airport, LAX) may become reality in the near future. The owner, a friendly man who looked like Col. Sanders except he was wearing a black shirt, told me this is a showroom of sorts. He will eventually franchise the business, and those will be more of a standard bar/restaurant style establish with a hatchet-throwing element added, much like some places have pool tables or other entertainment games.
This one, he added, will eventually host hatchet-throwing tournaments.
I can’t say I buried any hatches here or that I had an axe to grind. All I know is that I had a good time at LA AX, experienced a different type of nightlife in Los Angeles, and walked out with all my toes and other body parts intact.
• 7308 Coldwater Canyon Ave., North Hollywood, CA
Next door to the facility