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Juggle Fever

Flair bartenders flip bottles and tumblers in fast-paced fund-raiser.

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If you're sitting at the bar in Traffic tonight, don't be surprised if you see a beer bottle sail past your head. At Dakota's Challenge 2, the star of the show won't be the drink in your hand; it'll be the 15 top-ranked flair bartenders juggling beer, liquor, and wine bottles as part of the annual fund-raiser. "Unless you go to Las Vegas, it's rare you're going to see top-notch bartending with all the tricks," says Rob "Flair" Turek, a Cleveland-based bartender who's won international competitions for his arsenal of beer-mug acrobatics. "It's like Cirque du Soleil behind the bar."The aim of the benefit is to raise at least $20,000 in medical costs for Turek's seven-year-old son, Dakota, who was born with the uncommon epileptic disorder called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, which robs kids of their speech ability. Since November 2006, the Lakewood grade-schooler has undergone two operations in Chicago to restore parts of his brain that help him think and talk like any kid his age.That's where the elder Turek's flairtending buddies come in. World-class mixologists are donating their time and talent to put on a show to drum up the cash. There's James "Had" Hazey, who's revered for his ability to balance a mountain of drinks on his forehead without spilling a drop. Tim "Flippy" Morris will also be in the house to juggle bottles while he somersaults across the floor. And the three-man Team Rio from the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Sin City will cap off the performances. "They'll steal each other's bottles and throw stuff back and forth. Some will juggle three bottles, and another will come in and grab the bottles out of the air," says Turek, who manages his own juggling act by working bartending jobs at Brothers Lounge on the West Side, the Pub in Rocky River, and Traffic. "It's pretty wild stuff."And for most Clevelanders, the show offers a front-row glimpse of what Vegas revelers are accustomed to every night. "Number one, we're not the biggest tourist attraction for bars. We have a nightlife; we just don't have enough people to warrant a demand for entertainers behind the bar," says Turek. "You realize there's this whole other world out there, and it really blows up in Vegas." The action starts at 8 tonight at Traffic, 1296 West Sixth Street. Admission is $15 to $50. Call 216-566-9621 or visit www.trafficnightclub.com.
Tue., April 8, 8 p.m., 2008

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