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Friday, August 24, 2007

Thing 59: Chief Ike's Mambo Room

Chief Ike's Mambo Room is all things to all people.

You want to sweat out the week dancing furiously to some of the best hip hop hits of the last 20 years? Check.

You want to hear local bands that aren't famous yet? Or soulful singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars? Check.

You want a quiet place to play pool with the scent of patchouli and the soundtrack to Shaft playing in the background? Check.

How about an outdoor patio where you can enjoy the summer breeze and drink giant margaritas?

Check, check, check.

The main room to Chief Ike's is a testament to its eccentricity. The walls have large murals of "day of the dead" skeletons dancing, and General Ike Eisenhower lounging along with Paul Gauguin's Tahitian women and Sigmund Freud. There is a small stage and a checkered dance floor and a towering DJ booth. Neon signs and strange things are tacked to the wall. There's a juke box that I've only ever seen used as a coat rest. They have PBR on tap. And one of the bartenders has (had? she wasn't there last night) the greatest mullet I've ever seen. It is a strange place, but I have to say, I've never had a bad time there.

I am a firm believer that Friday and Saturday nights, Ike's is the very best dance club in the city, provided you like hip hop (old and new) and sweating. Just don't try to dance on the banquettes in the back. Apparently, there are rules.

Last night found me at Chief Ike's to hear my friend Lee's band, which is great! (And yes, I'm biased because I know Lee, but seriously, The Frustrations are great. They got the Boyfriend dancing, which speaks volumes to their talent). They were there to celebrate the release of their new CD (which I can hook you up with, if you leave a comment), and they got the crowd engaged and dancing immediately. They have a ska-rock thing going that is easy to dance to and fun to watch. My friends are rock stars!

Before they played though, there were openers, one of whom I must direct your attention too. Eva Castillo is wonderful!!

The band between Eva Castillo and The Frustrations was not great, so the Boyfriend, Jodi and I explored the upstairs Cosmo Lounge. I've been to Ike's many a time, and didn't know this part existed. It's much more quiet and peaceful, less sweaty, with a really cool bartender with giant blond dread locks who burns incense and pours a mighty stiff vodka and ginger ale. Behind the bar is a stained glass window of a Buddha, and a bunch of lefty radical and random political stickers and paraphernalia. A sticker that says "Girls kick ass." A tinted picture of JFK and Jackie O. I small flyer saying "Kick them out, vote 2006" with a blue donkey kicking an elephant. A picture of Frank Zappa. A picture of Johnny Ramone.

There was a pool table at one end of the room, and a TV and DVD player at the other. A very chill space overall. We stayed up there long enough to cool off and have a drink, before dancing the night away to the Frustrations.

This post is dedicated to Sam of Leisure, who was too busy being at leisure to make it out last night.


Sam said...

My leisure was long and arduous. And involved a lot of cheap blackjack. And tight slots. Hooray Vegas.

dc365 said...

You missed one hell of a show! I'm sure you can make it up to Lee by cooking him a steak though.