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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Riverfront Park turns hidden art piece into retro ‘70s speakeasy to celebrate Expo ‘74 anniversary

Riverfront Park’s newest art piece, “Stepwell,” is a bit hidden, tucked into the northern part of the park off the main pathways.

So, it only makes sense park officials chose it as the site of a weekend speakeasy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo ‘74.

Having opened Friday, several people – some sporting 1970s wardrobes – have already drunk cocktails, hit the dance floor and enjoyed the scenic views from the converted structure.

“I thought, what better to bring the memories of Expo together with the newest art piece that we have in Riverfront Park, but also combine it to a great cause,” said Jon Moog, park director.

All proceeds benefit the Spokane Parks Foundation. Yvonne Trudeau, executive director at Spokane Parks Foundation, said the funds will support future projects and programs at the park.

The 9-foot-tall structure of Alaskan yellow cedar was officially unveiled one year ago, and Moog said Club ’74 Speakeasy will bring more attention to the art piece.

“I think the piece was rather not known by most of our community, and it’s kind of hidden away, which is the reason we’re calling it a speakeasy, because you don’t expect it to be here,” Moog said.

The speakeasy is open 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 19. The 1970s-style outdoor venue is for ages 21 and older, except for May 19, which will be open to all ages when mocktails replace cocktails.

It’s $10 to get into the speakeasy and free for Club ‘74 members. Buy tickets at

Moog said they worked with several local brewers and distillers to offer a variety of beers, wines, cocktails and mocktails at the bar.

A DJ controls the music on the dance stage, which is lit up with colorful lights and placed adjacent to the Stepwell. A silver disco ball hangs above the stage.

A handful of people on Friday stood on the Stepwell steps to drink, converse and enjoy the views near the Spokane River. A projection of images from Expo ‘74 were displayed on the side of Stepwell.

Dressed Friday night in a red leisure suit his mother made a decade ago, Ryan Brodwater said he and his fiancée were drinking whiskey spritzes.

Brodwater turned 50 years old in January and attended Expo ’74 in a baby stroller. He said the speakeasy was “super fun.”

“I love how they set it up, and we’re looking forward to dancing later,” Brodwater said.

John O’Neill and his wife also dressed up in ‘70s clothing for the night.

Like Brodwater, O’Neill attended Expo ‘74 as a child. Unlike Brodwater, O’Neill was old enough to remember the experience.

“I remember as a 7-year-old coming downtown with my dad and my family and partaking in Expo ‘74, and just thought it was the coolest thing ever,” said O’Neill, who wore a 1970s Harley-Davidson brown leather jacket.

He said he remembered the “super cool” gondola ride and a petting zoo at the World’s Fair.

Flowers were the clothing design theme Friday for cousins Linda Smiley and Jodi Smith, who were sipping on vodka sodas.

Smiley wore dark pants with daisy flowers printed on them. The same type of white and yellow flowers were arranged on her head. Smith wore pink pants with pink flowers on her head.

Smiley, who was born in the early ‘70s, said the venue brought her back to her childhood.

“I adore it,” Smiley said. “I think it’s a lot of fun. I think we had a good running to be first (in best costume) until others showed up, but that’s OK; I’m not bitter.”