I had a real-life Cheers moment last Friday night when some friends and I happened upon a cool, unpretentious and non-douchey new bar in LA. Crazy, I know.
It opened its doors in Silverlake around 5 months ago, and I'd heard whisperings of its existence. It's tough to spot…a barbershop swirly pole on the wall is the only sign of life you'll find on an otherwise nondescript exterior. It used to be a leather bar (backroom fisting was a prefered pastime among the harness-clad patrons), but things have changed – pull aside the heavy entrance tarp, and you'll find yourself transported into a colonial gentleman's library, complete with real crystal chandeliers and hundreds of legal tomes lining dark wood shelves along the walls. The only things missing are a length of rope and Professor Plum.
There's also a very dignified chess table, an upright piano for singalongs and a wooden stage for tap dancing. Plus a cinema screen perfect for watching hardcore punk documentaries. Well, that's what they were playing that night, the punk-doc American Hardcore. Half way through an Ian Mackay monologue, the DJ, dressed in a Turbonegro t-shirt and fedora, decided to switch it off because it was 'boring', and threw on some records instead. Think Modern Lovers, Van Halen, Henry Rollins…
By the end of the night we were on first name terms with everyone in the joint. The bar manager even offered me my own night. After much deliberation, I decided to start an old-skool British rave night there, one Friday very soon. I already have my DJ lined up, music journo and grumpy punk OG Brendan Mullen, who also happens to have a shit-ton of late 1980's hardcore rave white labels stashed away in his house.
How often is it in LA that you find a bar where everyone really does know your name? Or more to the point, a bar where everyone cares what your name is, and will remember it for more than five minutes?
Not often. And that's why I'm not going to tell you where this one is. I'm selfish like that.