1511 Haight ~ (415) 552-6949
4:59pm Monday 18 February 2008
Thank you, Webweaver for the free festive art!
Prologue: It’s time for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary! As if that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, it’s also Presidents’ Day, which means a lot of us who would otherwise have to work, don’t — yay! As an added festive element, Mercury is also coming out of retrograde (finally!) so the malaise that so many of the the attuned among us have been feeling will finally dissipate — whew! Last, but certainly not least, this otherwise entirely momentous date happens to dovetail with Day No. 14 of Chica Cherry’s 40-Days-of-Fun 40th Birthday Extravaganza, and she has most graciously decided that celebrating Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary is the Fun Thing she wants to Officially Do that day. (What an amazing Barfly that Chica Cherry has turned out to be!)
After all, she was there when this madness started. The question is, where were you? If you were there, too, then surely you want to come and commemorate the auspicious occasion. If you weren’t there, but have been along on other Official Visits, then this is the perfect time for you to check back in (and get another notch on your Barfly belt…Batman? Wanda? Miss Anthrope?)
And if you have (unfortunately for you) never experienced a Bars By The Book outing, what could be a more perfect introduction to this Tome of Taverns (so to speak) than the one year anniversary party? I don’t want to oversell the evening, but a brilliant neurochemist re-booked his flight to the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans (!) just to be sure he could make it. And another Barfly scheduled the end of her recent bereavement to coincide with having a stiff drink at Deluxe Club with The Hostess on this special night. There are rumors that certain largely anti-social Barflies will make appearances. And Nora Charles is threatening to bring a cake, of all things!
You should come. It’s going to be one for the books, I can feel it. Even if they don’t have a stripper pole, there’s allegedly a dance floor of sorts. If you buy me a drink, maybe I’ll dance with you…
Afterword: What can I say? If you were there, then being there was more fun than reading my description of it can ever be, and if you weren’t there, you won’t believe me when I tell you how much fun you missed. But everyone there deserves to read about themselves, so here goes…
Although the opening time of Deluxe Club was confirmed by Nora Charles and myself on no less than three separate, and independent, occasions, 5:oopm came and went and the Bar remained quite firmly closed. I paced, and waited, and peered in the window, and tried the door; I inhaled the cigarette smoke of dozens of Haight Street denizens, I fretted: repeat (repeatedly). I placed a frantic call or two to Nora Charles. When I was nearing my wits’ end, Ritchie showed up. He’s a Haight Street handyman of sorts (hi, Ritchie!) who spends a lot of quality time at Deluxe Club, and who assured me that the place would open sooner than later. As Ritchie was rolling his second cigarette (the first of which he properly disposed of in the vintage smoking refuse box mounted just outside the door where we were, for all anyone could tell, loitering) who should appear but Chica Cherry, with Scotty just behind her, lending credibility to the whole Bars By The Book (abridged version) I had tried to explain to Ritchie (who seemed to think I was more or less deranged until they showed up).
Handy man, or no, Ritchie did not have the keys to the joint on him, but the pizza guy did! Giovanni was my new favorite person while he unlocked the door, invited us in, and offered to make us drinks (as long as they were uncomplicated). Ritchie split, but Giovanni (hi, Giovanni!) seemed genuinely interested in what we were, in fact, doing at Deluxe Club that night, and he told us all kinds of interesting things about the Bar’s history. (To be fair, Ritchie’s the one who started us down memory lane.) You see, Deluxe Club used to be the Gold Cane, but that place moved down the street, and the former Gold Cane became Deluxe Club, which used to be a gay bar, but became de-gayified when the current owner, Jay, purchased the establishment. Now, don’t ask me how one de-gayifies a Bar, but some of us did wonder. However, before we could delve too deeply into the pondering, Nora Charles showed up with The Cake.
And she didn’t just go to the grocery and purchase a cake. She baked one. (Actually, she baked two, but that’s another story…) Scotty took one look at that confection (The Cake — not Nora Charles — although maybe both, now that I think about it) and ordered one of Giovanni’s pizzas to start. Then Ms Olive strolled in, and it was time for some photos…
To his credit: Giovanni not only got us all drinks, but he managed to bring us a pizza, AND take some fantastic photos of us. For a guy who technically just leases the kitchen space (and has grand plans to restore the menu to its former oyster bar glory) Giovanni went above and beyond the call of duty during the Official Visit, and The Hostess sincerely thanks him for his efforts., wishes him the best of luck in all his culinary endeavors, and hopes he will surprise us with his presence at a future Bar (pizza or no).
I’m pretty sure Jay, the owner (hi, Jay!) arrived next. He plugged in his impressively-loaded i-pod, turned down the lights, and helped Giovanni attend to what was obviously going to be a bigger crowd than they expected so early on a Presidents’ Day Monday (go figure!). I was busy trying to explain The Cake to Jay when Malvolio walked in. And Art (sans Barfly name, which we were hastily able to correct due to some quick and creative thinking) was suddenly strolling in the door. I have to admit, it was getting a bit much to introduce everyone by this time (maybe Scotty was right and we should have had name tags — then again, some of us did have identifying necklaces….)
Chica Cherry started having to take phone calls outside (hey, she has a lot going on right now), and Nora Charles decided it was time to serve The Cake (before the regulars who were wandering in tried to eat it, perhaps). Just as Chica Cherry bid The Hostess adieu, Nora Charles ran out of forks, and Sigerson snuck in. While Sigerson was sorry to have missed Chica Cherry, he and I could always share a fork, so we allowed the scrumptiousness of The Cake (which was shared, of course, with Jay an Giovanni) to console us about Chica Cherry’s early departure (which was really understandable — as she is less than halfway through her 40 Fun Things before she turns 40, and may need to be carried over the finish line, if she doesn’t schedule herself a bunch of spa days in between now and D-day…) Anyway, as we were all enjoying The Cake, and Ms Olive was demonstrating how she got her name by stuffing olives into her bottles of beer, and Sigerson was trying to explain his rather obscure (yet appropriately literary) Barfly name, and Malvolio was trying (not too hard, mind you) not to seem too smug that he actually knew where the name “Sigerson” came from, and Scotty was being apprised of Sigerson’s real name, and Giovanni was bringing out more pizzas, and I was buying Art another drink, and Jay was just trying to keep up with our drink orders without alienating his regulars, I’ll be damned if Batman himself didn’t show up — with another new Barfly, no less (hi, Ben For Now!).
It was like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo and Columbus Day all rolled into one for The Hostess. One year, 33 Bars, 9 Barflies — lots of whom had never met before — and me. Plus, there was The Cake. And I definitely danced with Art (in the absence of a pole) and maybe even had a spin or two with Sigerson (can’t say for sure as I was dazzled by his snazzy shirt as soon as he took off his jacket). We were having so much fun, no wonder the people in charge of the show (comedy?) that was fixin’ to start came over and informed us we would either have to stop telling jokes (that demonstrated the fact that only Batman and I have a truly sublime sense of humor) or take our party elsewhere…
Thank goodness Nora Charles didn’t invite us all over to her place, or I’m quite sure that’s where we’d all still be! Instead, we took what is destined to be the best Official Photo of all time, and went on our (mostly) separate ways. But that was for the best, because now The Hostess — at least — can’t wait to go back to Deluxe Club again. As I like to say, these days, “one has to leave before one can come back” (or something to that effect…)
Alright already, if you have read this far, either you are reeealllly interested in finding out what Deluxe Club is actually like, or you were there, and you wanted to read about how much fun I had with you. What follows is a description of Deluxe Club as it will most likely be when not more or less over taken by Barflies:
Deluxe Club is rather snazzy. Remember in the 1990’s, when there was that weird swing-dancing revival? Ritchie says that actually started at Deluxe Club. The place actually seems a little small for that sort of tossing dance-partners about, but who knows? Anyway, it’s got the ambiance of the sort of place where that could have happened. It’s certainly retro-tastic.
But I must confess, I think one of the best things about Deluxe Club is that it is clean enough — with enough of a respectable, if somewhat genteel and faded, veneer of respectability — that the procession of Haight Streeters marching past outside never even looks in door. Which means you can enjoy some drinks, some music, and maybe some pizza, without getting cancer from second-hand smoke, being hassled for change from fake hippies, or succumbing to the smell of patchouli-scented dreadlocks. In short: Deluxe Club is a haven in the Haight, and I hope to return to it soon. It was also a spectacular venue for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary party, and may give Ace’s a run for it’s money in the end…(Jay? You need to have start selling t-shirts — I need something to wear next year!))