D’Mongo’s on a Friday night is an intricate dance of strangers and friends.
The place is packed elbow-to-elbow and we’re all shuffling just to find a patch of open floor. No chance to sit down. I prefer it this way. The standing and moving about makes it easier to interact with new faces, to find friends.
I come here with my best friend Sarah, sometimes with out-of-towners or friends from the suburbs who want a “real” Detroit experience. I tell them there’s no such thing, but this place – with all its history and kitsch – is quintessentially Detroit.
When the weather turns warm the crowds will spill onto the patio, into the street. Inside, guests sip their gins and tonics and brush shoulders as they lean closer to talk over the house band.
Tonight Sarah and I run into my friend Mike and her friend John, then a pair of gentlemen we met last month at this same spot. They work in the city but live in the suburbs.
None of us planned to meet here. We are drawn to it by a common enthusiasm for fun, love for the city, and the desire for a shared experience.
Part of the reason I come to D’Mongo’s is the assurance that I will run into no fewer than three people I know on any given night. One of them is Larry Mongo himself: warm, quick-witted and too charming for his own good. Over the years he has harvested a unique crop of Detroiters – some home-grown and some imported – colliding and bouncing off each other in wondrous patterns, randomly and with purpose.
The Detroit I love is here. It’s not the place; it’s the people that I find here. We are a rare breed, evolving fast. I feel lucky to have been accepted so effortlessly by those who were here long before I called this city home.
I hope that I can be as welcoming to those who join us next.