NORMAN — The smoking show that night was Kierston White and Alan Orebaugh. Their show was winding down as the tequila they’d been shooting between songs started to kick in. They called it white wine.
“Happy Monday, everybody,” Orebaugh said, as a lit cigarette smoked in the ash tray on a stool near his chair. “We’re going to fumble through one more song.”
At 9 p.m., less than 25 people were arranged sparsely throughout The Deli, a dimly lit dive bar that glowed red from the Christmas lights lining the walls and stage.
Only a handful of people were smoking before the bar switched to non-smoking at 10 p.m. when The Handsome Devils took stage. After 40 years of almost exclusively hosting smoky shows, The Deli switched to a band’s-choice smoking policy in late April, and manager Bob McIntosh said it’s going to stay that way indefinitely.
Since the switch, about two-thirds of the bands playing The Deli have opted for no smoking at their shows, and so far most bands and patrons seem happy with the change, McIntosh said.
“The people that do smoke don’t seem to mind going outside,” McIntosh said. “On the smoking shows, everybody knows what the deal is.”
Christopher Allen, a patron of The Deli for 18 years, was sitting with a group of people at a large table near a window. Although he’d been smoking cigarettes that night, he said he doesn’t mind going outside to smoke when he must.
Because bands at The Deli get paid based on the customers they bring in, Allen said it makes sense to give bands the choice to have smoking or non-smoking shows because they know if their audience would tolerate a smoking show or not.
“I personally would like to smoke in The Deli every night, but I’m not going to offend somebody,” Allen said.
After playing a smoking show at The Deli every Monday for about a decade, musician Travis Linville opted for a non-smoking show when he returned to The Deli on April 22 for his album release show.
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To find which shows are smoke-free, go online to The Deli’s Facebook page.