« Next thing you know, she's across the room at the pinballs machines. ... It was pretty unreal.»
Turf Club music manager Dave Wiegardt said it was an especially quiet night at the blue-collar St. Paul rock haven -- you know, the one with the puny, dingy bathrooms, 1940s facade and Replacements and Neil Young posters -- when a black Escalade pulled up out front with the most famous pop star of 2010 inside.
"She just walked in the door with this giant guy by her side and bellied up to the bar," Wiegardt said, describing the visit Lady Gaga paid to the Turf Club late Tuesday following her second of two sold-out concerts at Xcel Energy Center. "Next thing you know, she's across the room at the pinball machines playing a game by herself. It was pretty unreal."
Already known to enjoy hitting the town after her performances -- but usually at more trendy dance venues and gay clubs -- Gaga showed up at the Turf just after midnight and stayed for about an hour, accompanied by her Omaha-reared boyfriend and songwriting muse Luc Carl plus two bodyguards. They stayed about an hour, said Wiegardt, who guessed that "one of the reasons they might've picked [the Turf] is because it was low-key and pretty quiet."
Word got out via Twitter that she was there, but the crowd stayed relatively small and cool. Reports from the 50 or so patrons uniformly described the superstar as being unusually approachable and laid-back. One Tweeter said she talked fashion with the singer. Others commented that she appeared tiny in person. A group of women even talked Gaga into posing inside the Turf Club's photo booth with them, pictures that are now splashed across the web everywhere from fan sites to the blog of notorious celeb hound Perez Hilton.
"She really came off like a normal person -- or at least a normal person who goes out wearing black hot pants, a sports bra and fishnets," quipped Machen Davis, one of the women in the photo strip and a promotions staffer at First Avenue nightclub.
"She was really cool and down-to-Earth," said Turf Club bartender Jay Finder, who struck up a conversation with the singer after serving her (he wouldn't reveal what she ordered). "She said she absolutely loved the Minnesota fans and couldn't believe how many of them were crying in the front rows and just going crazy."
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658