I can't bring myself to say goodbye to Omaha's nightlife community, especially when I'm only a click away.
My new role as editor of momaha.com, The World-Herald's social networking site for moms, was announced last week. As you can imagine, I'm excited about my new job.
But some things won't change. The World-Herald is committed to informing and entertaining you. The newspaper's nightlife coverage will continue with new players. And I'll still be watching what happens.
If I was asked to offer tips for the next nightlife writer, here's what I'd say: You need to increase awareness of the Go section in the newspaper and at omaha.com
You need to see and be seen at hot spots in our city. You're the face of Omaha's nightlife scene. And you don't have to wait for the streetlights to shine to monitor nightlife activity.
Sometimes you'll visit a new nightclub before it opens, swing by a brewery to taste a new beer and spend an afternoon at the mall to see who sells the lacy fingerless gloves a gal wore to the club last night.
Being social is an important part of the job. Go to every social engagement you're invited to. It's where you'll meet new people, cultivate business contacts and generate the bulk of your story ideas. You're not going to know what's happening out there unless your heels hit the pavement.
Working the nightlife beat, I met people I probably wouldn't have known otherwise.
For instance, I never would have met Dan Zadalis had I not frequented the now-closed Eli's Bar and Grille in Rockbrook Village near 108th Street and West Center Road.
Zadalis was a balding 52-year-old bar owner with big, Stephen King-like wire-rim glasses and a 1970s Burt Reynolds mustache. After 11 years of pouring drinks, he sold his bar and got married in 2008. (Update: He called me four months ago to say he was opening Roma's Pizza and Subs, 2647 S. 159th Plaza, a restaurant in west Omaha.)
I also met Patricia Dobrauc, a special favorite of mine. She's a former nun who left the convent after nine years because she felt the big man upstairs intended something else. One wild night in Las Vegas, she fell in love with a young Italian man, married him and had triplets.
See, people, what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there.
Then there's Jeremy Warner, whose friends dragged him to a bar to compete in a Chuck Norris look-alike contest. If you studied Warner's face, you'd see a strong jaw, narrow nose, strawberry blond hair and deep-set brown eyes. A little chest hair peeked out from his buttondown Western shirt. Yep, he was a young Chuck.
And, as the nightlife reporter, I also learned not to underestimate the power of social media. People are mixing and mingling on Facebook and Twitter. You need to be there too.
How else will you know that a pizza tweet-up is about to start in five minutes? Or that a "Thriller" flash mob broke out dancing at Scary Acres. No wait, this just in: It was canceled.
My readers kept me relevant, amused and informed. They led me to hot hangouts, including barber shops, motorcycle clubs, underground fashion shows, mud runs, coffeehouse shows, goth balls and ultra-chic lounges.
They encouraged me to tweet live from the most random places, including a Cheech and Chong concert and at the Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation match. Who knew I'd have so much fun?
I often get asked how I acquired such a faithful following.
You flirt like crazy, flash a few toothy smiles and say, "I appreciate you."
And I really do. Our friendship goes beyond what's in print.
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Make sure to follow Josie Loza as she transitions into her new role as the editor on momaha.com.
Join her live chats at 2 p.m. Fridays.
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Win tickets to the musical "CATS" by submitting a photo of your cat on www.omaha.com/Contests. Readers will vote for the winners. Tickets to the Feb. 17-19 show at the Orpheum Theater start as low as $25 and can be purchased on ticketomaha.com.
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Do you have an event you'd like to see in Go? Send your nightlife notes, event listings, bar openings and other tidbits to Elizabeth.Freeman@owh.com