Hand jive

Hands say a lot about a person. It’s a matter of taste really, the condition in which we keep our paws, but if there’s one thing that bartender Laura Rock and manicurist Amber Hartman know, it’s that any hand looks better with a martini in it.

For nearly a year, the girls have been hosting a weekly event that’s one part night-on-the-town and one part evening of pampering. They call them Mademoiselle Mondays, and if you’re looking for an excuse to do something totally self-indulgent, this is it.

For 10 bucks, Monday night bar stars can sooth the weekend’s residual hangover with a top-shelf martini while treating themselves to a manicure. For those who need to get up early the next morning, a manicure sans cocktail goes for a paltry five smacks. Either way, it’s convenient, it’s affordable and it’s a hoot.

“I was looking for something to do on Monday nights because there was nothing else going on,” Rock says. The seasoned booze slinger has seen a lot of themed bar nights come and go, but somehow, despite the fickleness of drinking crowds, she’s managed to keep people’s attention.

At face value, Mademoiselle Mondays are little more than an excuse to get out of the house and throw back a few drinks. But Rock and Hartman have tapped into something that appeals to people interested in spending their time and money on something more than a trend. It’s the unusual concoction of mollycoddlin’ and merriment that makes people feel like this night is the perfect way to blow off some steam.

“Amber had just gotten back from New York where there are a lot of those beauty bars,” Rock says. “She suggested that it might be good to try something like that here. I immediately thought it was a great idea. I mean, who has the time to get their nails done?”

Hartman, who works part-time in a professional salon, says Monday nights hardly feel like work at all. “It really is fun,” she says. “It’s funny, a lot of times the men come in groups because they don’t want to admit that they want a manicure.”

And because Mademoiselle Mondays attract both males and females in roughly equal numbers, Hartman offers two kinds of services. The men’s manicure consists of a nail buff and a hand massage (surprisingly luxurious), while the women’s manicure includes a file and polish. Clients, regardless of gender, can choose either version.

And since Detroit is a city that prides itself on discerning musical taste, Rock — in what has proven to be an ingenious move — has commissioned the DJ services of local musicians, artists, dilettantes and music lovers. Each week, a new DJ (and often a duo) spins his or her own taste in jams. While the offerings have been hit-or-miss, empty seats are rare. In fact, getting a guest DJ slot has almost become a badge of honor. They’re booked for months.

Music completed the Mademoiselle Mondays triptych. It was an impromptu live show by singer-songwriter Greg Cartwright (of Reining Sound and Detroit Cobras) that turned many people on to the novelty night.

“A lot of people came out to see Greg and discovered what was going on here,” Rock says. The night has been a huge success ever since. Last week for example, hometown rock gods the Sights, the Hentchmen and London natives the Exciters threw together a last-minute showcase — the crowd teemed, martinis and nail polish flowed and eyebrows became less bushy. (Mademoiselle Mondays now offer aesthetician services for those who’d like a brow wax and shape.)

Darren Grow, co-owner of the Belmont Bar (Mademoiselle Mondays’ home), says sales from Monday nights are often as high as on Fridays and Saturdays. In the bar world, that’s unheard of. More than that, though, Grow is pleased with the spirit of his bar on Monday nights.

“Laura and Amber made this happen,” he says. “I think that a lot of people feel like this is their home bar. I like that.”


Every Monday at the Belmont, 10215 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-871-1966. Author’s alcohol warning: Please remember that martinis are very much like breasts: One’s not enough and three are too many. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]