"After dark" is oxymoronic in summertime Dawson -- the midnight sun brings out the partier in the residents, and you'll find plenty of late-night action. We overheard in one bar, "In summer, Dawson doesn't sleep. We have all winter for that." Dawson City is still full of honky-tonks and saloons, and most have some form of nightly live music. On warm summer evenings, all the doors are thrown open, and you can sample the music by strolling through town on the boardwalks; the music is far better than you'd expect for a town with fewer than 2,000 people. Some favorites: Both the lounge bar and the pub at the Midnight Sun (tel. 867/993-5495), at 3rd Avenue and Queen Street, have live bands nightly. The tavern at the Westminster Hotel, between Queen and Princess streets on 3rd Avenue, often features traditional Yukon fiddlers, as well as other local and touring musical acts. The pub at Bombay Peggy's (2nd Ave. and Princess St.; tel. 867/993-6969) has occasional live music and a very lively and youthful cocktail crowd -- don't be surprised when this spot gets raucous.
Diamond Tooth Gertie's (4th and Queen sts.; tel. 867/993-5575) is Dawson City's one remaining gambling hall, and it has an authentic Gold Rush decor, from the shirt-sleeved honky-tonk pianist to the wooden floorboards. The games include blackjack, roulette, and poker, as well as slot machines; the minimum stakes are low, and the ambience is friendly, rather than tense. The three nightly floor shows combine cancan dancing, throaty siren songs, and ragtime piano. May through September, Gertie's is open daily 2pm to 2am, and admission is C$6. An interesting side note: Gambling revenues from Gertie's support historic preservation in the Klondike.
It's said that "strange things are done under the midnight sun," but there's nothing much odder than the Sourtoe Cocktail at the Sourdough Saloon in the Downtown Hotel (2nd Ave. and Queen St.). You can join 65,000 members of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club by tossing down a drink into which the bartender places a preserved human toe. Yes, a real human toe. Apparently, in the 1970s, a habitué of the saloon, Dick Stevenson, discovered a severed human toe preserved in alcohol while cleaning out an old cabin (the story of this original severed toe involves a tale of frostbite and amputation during the 1920s). Remembering the poem Ballad of the Ice-Worm Cocktail by Robert Service, Stevenson came up with the idea for a very unique specialty cocktail. The toe makes the ultimate garnish for the cocktail of your choice; pick your liquor, and the bartender will slip in the digit. The toe, which is about as disturbing looking as you are currently imagining, must touch the drinker's lips during the consumption of the alcohol before he or she can claim to be a true Sourtoer. A Sourtoe Cocktail costs C$5, and after you finish the drink, you'll receive a certificate plus the right to disgust listeners for the rest of your life. For more on the Sourtoe Cocktail, see the website at www.sourtoecocktailclub.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.