I first discovered Northern Soul (577 First Street) when a friend’s band, Rare Books (cheap plug: http://rarebooks.bandcamp.com), was playing there with Higgins (more cheapness: http://higginsdearhiggins.bandcamp.com).
My initial impression was that Northern Soul was a spectacular dive bar with live music. As the evening progressed, and I had the chance to look at their event calendar, I started to think of it as not so much of a dive, but a comfortable neighborhood hang where the bartenders would know your name.
Beyond the aforementioned live bands, Northern Soul regularly hosts The People’s Open Mic and Art Shows. If live entertainment isn’t your thing, there are special events like their recent Pig Roast with all the pork you can eat for $10… On top of the traditional “Ladies Night” bar fare… Or their TV Fandom Tuesdays… And the fact that it’s a dog-friendly bar.
Bartender Ariana Farfan took the time to answer some questions for hMAG, not only clarifying what makes Northern Soul unique for the neighborhood, but about how one can transition into bartending. Light-hearted while also honest, Ariana’s enthusiasm is refreshing—and if there’s one thing to learn from our Q&A, it’s that you never turn down pizza…
hMAG: How did you wind up working at Northern Soul?
Northern Soul’s Ariana Farfan: I was working at Re-Juice-A-Nation (64 Newark Street) for what felt like forever, it was one of my first jobs. I had known the owners of Northern Soul for years because they are smoothie-crazy, and one day they just offered me a job. It’s a real Cinderella story into bartending.
H: Since Northern Soul is the first place you have tended bar, what was the most difficult part of the job for you to learn?
A: Probably just to go with the flow. I was so nervous the first day and felt like a burden the first couple of weeks because I wasn’t moving as fast as the rest of the crew. I would feel really bad dropping things or breaking glasses, but I’m just a naturally clumsy person and had to embrace all the spilled drinks as pouring out one for my homies.
H: What makes Northern Soul different from other Hoboken establishments?
A: EVERYTHING! We have awesome art always on our walls by local artists, you can see really talented musicians on live music nights, you will never hear a Top 40 song on our playlists or from our sick DJs, it’s DOG-FRIENDLY, and just over all good vibes.
H: Have you ever been tempted to perform at a Northern Soul Open Mic Night?
A: One day I’m going to figure out how to play the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song on guitar and kill it on an Open Mic Night! Then smash the guitar on the stage and retire from the biz.
H: Is there a particular song that you’ve heard one too many times? One that you must hit the “skip” button for when it comes on?
A: The Band’s version of “Atlantic City.” It’s every live band’s cover song of choice and is on every playlist. If you are performing at Northern Soul soon, PLEASE SPARE ME!
H: What is your favorite part of bartending?
A: I have met so many awesome people, and a lot of them I consider good friends. Also, some of these people have dogs and I love dogs.
H: If you could change one thing about common bartender/patron etiquette, what would it be?
A: You can tip me in half-money and half-food.
H: What is the weirdest question a patron has ever asked you on the other side of the bar?
A: “Hey, we are ordering pizza. Do you want any?” Are you crazy?! Who turns down pizza?!
H: What is your drink of choice?
A: Depends on the day/night and the time of year. Is it stout and pumpkin beer season yet? Also I’m a sucker for Red Bull.
H: Northern Soul and beyond, do you have a favorite bartender in Hoboken?
A: I work with two really awesome guys, Donal and Pat, that are some of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met! Outside of Northern Soul, Brian Daly at the Ale House and Mark Lavery at DCs. Two really awesome, genuinely good people! [Editor’s Note: Brian Daly was recently featured in this column.]
H: Bars aside, what is your favorite thing about Hoboken?
A: All the awesome places you can order for delivery! “Very variety. Such food.” -Doge
H: Finally, Ariana, any last words for the kids?
A: If you feel like listening to some awesome music, watching World’s Dumbest without the sound, and talking about your favorite TV shows—maybe even watching them on the big screen for TV Fandom Tuesdays? Then Northern Soul is the bar for you!