The man in the ice cream shop seems happy to give us directions to the cemetery, but the woman is looking at us suspiciously. After all, it is 9:30 at night, and we are wearing all black. If she has an overactive imagination, she might think we’re grave robbers.
She would probably find the truth just as surprising, though—that my friend and I are meeting amateur ghost-hunters who want to capture some ghosts on film with their new video camera, and that this is just the first of many stops we will be making in our quest to find out what there is to do in Ogden, Utah, after the sun sets.
At 10 p.m., a platinum-haired guy and his aqua-haired girlfriend meet us at an open gate near a sign that says the Ogden Cemetery closes “an hour after sunset.” Although some faint light still streaks the western sky, it’s only a few minutes before a car bearing the logo “Neighborhood Watch” drives up and shines its lights on us. “You need to leave the cemetery,” a woman’s voice says. “You’re not allowed to be here. And if we catch you in here again, we’ll call the O.P. [Ogden Police], and you’ll get a fine.” Not wanting to risk the wrath of concerned citizens, we move on.
At 11 p.m., it’s difficult to squeeze our way through the packed crowd at Brewski’s on 25th Street. The vocalist for local band A.J. is singing with a bit of a country twang and playing an acoustic guitar while a bassist and drummer back him up. A bartender named Mark asks us if we’ve heard of the tunnels that were rumored to exist underneath 25th Street as a haven for vice during prohibition days. He tells us that it’s difficult to find evidence of the tunnels now, but “if you talk to these old guys, they’ll swear they were here.” Before we leave, he shows us how to make a chicken out of a bar towel.
Around midnight, we head a few doors down to The City Club, where nearly every square inch of wall space is covered with framed posters of The Beatles. The men’s room is labeled “John,” and the women’s room is labeled, “Yoko.” The menu, which is brought to us by our helpful waitress, Wanda, includes drink specials with names like “Eleanor Rigby” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”
I’m glad I hadn’t indulged in any of those drinks when we are pulled over by the Utah Highway Patrol half an hour later. I’d never noticed that the light bulb on my rear license plate needs replacing. Things look different in the dark.
At Teazers Sports Bar & Grill, the dance floor is packed with girls in tight shirts and the guys who love them, gyrating to hits from artists like Beyonce and Snoop Dogg. In the glass-walled DJ booth that hangs over the dance floor like a space pod, DJ Al shows me how he DJs with DVDs so he can synch up videos on the screen and monitors that surround the dance floor.
As we drive down Washington Boulevard at 2 a.m., we don’t see many high school students trying to pick each other up (a pastime known by locals as “cruising the ’vard”), but we do see six police cars with flashing lights that have pulled people over at different points along the road.
“It’s slow tonight,” says our waitress at Denny’s, at around 3 a.m. “There must be something going on.” Kyle, who is playing cards with his friends Shannon and Vanessa at a nearby table, calls out, “There are street races.” He explains that people in Ogden will often get together to race their cars, but they try to keep the location quiet so as not to alert the police. After Kyle goes off to join a Hacky Sack game out front, Shannon tells me that she’s been a regular here for about five years. She’s seen many high-speed chases and wrecks from her spot behind the plate-glass windows overlooking Washington Boulevard. “If you sit here long enough,” she says, “you’ll see everything that goes on in Ogden.”
At 4 a.m. in the Wal-Mart Superstore, most of the people are employees restocking the shelves. Kitty, who’s working as a greeter at the front door, tells me, “I’ve always been a night person. I think it’s hereditary. My mom was, too.” And as a bonus, she says, there are fewer people in the store at night, and she gets paid more for the night shift.
Before we head back to Salt Lake City, we spend some time searching for a 24-hour truck stop on Ogden’s west side, but the winding streets and our own exhaustion cause us to end our journey before locating the restaurant. Despite our expectations, we found more than enough in Ogden to keep us up at night.