Like Never-Never Land, take your first right onto Route 302 West and keep going until Route 11. At the end of the journey lies a secret treasure, the Redneck Lounge in Naples.
As you are driving down Route 11, the Redneck Lounge practically leaps out at you as a place you have to investigate, a huge white building on the right-hand side of the curve before Casco. It’s an easy 40-minute drive from Greater Portland through North Windham, and I barely even noticed the time had passed before I was there.
I was a little uneasy walking in, as I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect entering a place in the woods called the Redneck Lounge.
When owners Janice and Sid Shane reopened the place (formerly Shakers, and before that Remember When) in September, they wanted to provide a place in the lakes region for people to meet, play darts or pool, and chat. In fact, the motto of the bar is “Where the locals go to unwind.”
The Redneck Lounge, however, is not a hole-in-the-wall “townie bar” that the urban set would be horrified to step into. Sid greeted me immediately when I entered, as he walked to the stage, drill in hand, to make a repair. Pulling up to the bar, I was immediately invited into the conversation by some of the nicest bar patrons I’ve met in my travels as I sipped my Shipyard Pumpkinhead ($3.25).
Most of the space is dedicated to a dance floor, complete with lighting system and hardwood. At the front of the floor is a raised stage for the local bands or DJs that play every night. Wednesday nights are usually reserved for “fun” karaoke, while Thursdays are for the more dedicated karaoke set, with competitions. Hot off the heels of Redneck Idol, last week the bar was preparing for Karaoke Duets.
Redneck Lounge offers an extensive selection of bottled beers ($3.25 for import and microbrews, $2.50 for domestics), and Janice can barely keep Patron on the bar shelves. The Redneck Lounge’s signature drink, Redneck Viagra (Southern Comfort and Red Bull, $7.50), is certainly one of the most popular selections.
There is also one of the most comprehensive selections of vodka I’ve ever seen. “Vodka martinis are my favorite drink to mix,” said Janice, as she prepared a dirty martini with a two-olive/one-onion garnish ($7) for the guy sitting at the bar near me.
In addition to karaoke and popular dance-club mixes by the local DJs, the place also offers themed party nights. Motor Booty Affair’s infamous Jive Turkey Eve (the night before Thanksgiving) is a fixture in the lakes community, and New Year’s Eve will bring the first-ever Redneck Ball. The ball will feature women dressed to the nines with gowns and jewels and their dates in flannel and camo.
“We’re going to be over-the-top redneck here,” said Janice.
Which sounds kind of scary or totally lame, but really is a whole lot of fun.
Elisa Doucette is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.