Monday, August 31, 2009

Swing at the Speakeasy

The directions are oblique. The venue doesn’t really have a name. The approach is sketchy – go to a busy street corner, through a squeaky metal gate, and walk down a dingy flight of stairs. Knock 3 times on a nondescript metal door. Give the doorkeeper the password, and if you’re on the guest list he’ll let you in. Step inside from the dark stairwell… and enter a long low room, paneled in dark wood, draped with red velvet curtains, and stuffed with plush, dark leather chairs.

Sure, it’s not a “real” speakeasy – there’s no prohibition, the venue doesn’t change, and there’s really no reason to keep the place hidden – but it’s fun to have a secret. And the venue is well worth keeping all to ourselves; the decor and ambiance are absolutely stellar. I wasn’t a huge fan of the band that played the first week (lots and lots of songs that were faster than I wanted to dance) but the last two weeks a blues group called Tin Pan has played. While they do throw in some faster songs to appease the lindyfolks, they also play some damn fine blues.

Other highlights include the fact that the bar has the Ron Zacapa 23 as well as a couple of varieties of Glenmorangie, and the adorable girl behind the bar remembers me every week and pour generously just for me. My one complaint for the venue overall is that because it is small it gets very, very crowded and very, very hot. Still, it’s definitely worth it for the ambiance.

I was bad and didn’t write down notable leads the first two trips, but this time I want to make sure to remember Charles (slightly older gent with a wonderful springy lead and a penchant for leading convoluted but strangely easy to execute turns and swingout variations) and Kevin (mid-twenties, quite tall, big guy – doesn’t look like he’d be an amazing dancer but damn if he doesn’t have a wonderful light, flowy, effortless lead). There was also a guy all dappered out who I had a fabulous blues dance with – he was a big fan of tango-inspired dips, which made for a very intense song.

Anyway, hooray for awesome venues! With the little taste of New York Blues that I’ve gotten at this event, I can’t wait to see what Blues Blaze is like.