1) Do you know what summer the movie “Dirty Dancing” took place? 2) Which one-hit group sang “Brandy”? 3) Who won the 1963 National League Rookie of the Year Award? (The answers are at the end of this story.)
If you live or work in Hudson County, you may be asked one of those questions at a trivia contest near you.
Trivia is king in bars and restaurants in the county, and that’s because it’s fun, usually free, and gives you a reason to have a great meal and hoist a few beers with friends and family.
“These events are live trivia nights with a host on a microphone, teams competing against one another, and the prize is generally gift cards or Broadway tickets,” said Christine Day, senior manager of Buzztime Entertainment, a national company in Carlsbad, Calif., that has run trivia promotions in Weehawken, Bayonne, and other local towns.
The Houlihan’s Restaurant chain is big on the fun, with their restaurants in Bayonne, Secaucus, and Weehawken all having sponsored trivia promotions of some type. Bayonne’s program is running strong, twice a month on Wednesdays. Secaucus has video trivia monitors playing on a daily basis.
At a competition recently in Bayonne, the place was packed for a special “Dirty Dancing” themed night, even though the movie came out way back in 1987, before some of the participants were even born.
Two representatives from Trivia AD were there, administering the five rounds of trivia questions for their programs: general knowledge, quotes, true or false, character identity, and the lightning round. Trivia AD also hosts contests in Hoboken and New York.
“It’s fun; it’s a good way to get out of the house,” said Stacey Figueroa of Bayonne, a corporate trainer. “They always have a lot of great topics. They keep it fresh.”
“Some people go to the gym,” said Wanda Rodriguez of Jersey City, an educator. “I’d rather go to trivia and maybe win prizes.”
Nicole Sorbara of Bayonne heard about the contest on Facebook, and came with sister Maria and cousin Josephine, the first time at a trivia event for all three.
“Some people go to the gym. I’d rather go to trivia and maybe win prizes.” – Wanda Rodriguez
Deborah Robinson and India Woods, both of Jersey City, and friend Lydonn Jackson of Newark came to the Bayonne Houlihan’s just for the trivia.
“We’re ‘Dirty Dancing’ fans forever,” said Robinson. “We love the music, we love Patrick Swayze, and we love his dancing.”
“We came for the trivia and a couple of drinks,” Woods said.
Trivia is an option in town at Houlihan’s on Plaza Drive, if you want to take advantage of the video monitors.
“We have computer trivia,” said Marcos Tavarez, serving manager at Houlihan’s. “We give out tickets to Off Broadway plays. This month it’s ‘Illuminations.’ Next month it’ll probably be ‘Stomp.’”
During the summer, tickets to baseball games are the big prizes.
“All the [Houlihan’s] stores have it,” Tavarez said. “We just decided to do contests with the trivia.”
Houlihan’s contracts with a company called NTN, and they do all the programming, he said. The trivia presented runs the gamut from general, to popular, to sports.
“The customers comment on it,” Tavarez said. “It’s something to do while you’re hanging out.”
Weehawken’s Houlihan’s is like Secaucus in that they offer free video trivia each day. Weehawken has monitors at its bar that are constantly tuned to the fun activity.
“We had for a while now; a few years,” said manager on duty Eddie Aguilar. “The interest is still there after all these years.”
And even when it’s high season for baseball, football, or the Olympics, people still want their contests of knowledge available, according to Aguilar.
“We usually have it on the TVs,” he said. “We have customers who come in for that.”
And being open from 11 a.m. until closing at 2 a.m., there’s a lot of time for trivia.
“We have some regulars that come just for this,” Aguilar said. “For happy hours. UBS [Financial] comes with a lot of people.”
The Weehawken site has all kinds of trivia games offered, including ones on history, cars, and TV shows. And if other types of trivia are wanted? No problem. They’ll add what’s requested.
Trivia is so popular in the town that the Women’s Club of Weehawken uses it as its annual fundraiser. Just ask Mayor Richard Turner’s wife, Eileen.
“We run a couple of fundraisers every year, and a few years ago we were looking for something else to do,” Turner said. “We were looking for something that would draw different age groups. Then I saw some publications advertising trivia.”
With the support of President Carol Cravitz and Councilwoman Carmela Ehret, who runs the event, it has become quite successful, raising a few thousand dollars each year for the organization. The trivia proceeds fund high school scholarships, books, and food for the needy during the holidays.
“We’ve been doing this now for a while,” Turner said. “It’s our fourth year of doing this. We get 100 people to come for our event. It’s great. And it’s been growing.”
The group’s trivia choices are diverse, including science, history, TV, and movies. But they also do “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” and “How Much Do You Know About Weehawken?”
Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City, West New York
Trivia is king in Jersey City and Hoboken, with many bars and restaurants offering the contests. In Hoboken, you can get your fill at Willie McBride’s, the Wicked Wolf, the Tilted Kilt, the Village Pourhouse, and other bars. In Jersey City, the Corkscrew Bar is among the venues.
A search did not turn up any venues in Union City, North Bergen, or West New York, but email us at email@example.com if you know of an event.
Answers: 1) 1963 2) The Looking Glass 3) Pete Rose
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.