Jay Johnson opened Club Deluxe in 1989, and from day one, it has been a “subculture clubhouse” on the famous corner of Haight and Ashbury. It’s been a haven for misfits and musicians and burlesque dancers and well, everyone else who feels at home there; it either speaks to your style or it doesn’t. It’s where you can wear a fine hat and not feel self conscious about it because there will likely be several other people in there looking dapper in vintage threads as well. But you’ll be just as welcomed in ripped jeans and a hoodie as long as you’re cool, man. I, of course, encourage the former wardrobe if you’ve the choice; it will fit better with the air of sex and darkness and history and scandal that hangs under the low ceilings and swirls around the Formica table tops and vinyl bar stools. It’s almost a surprise there aren’t ashtrays here and there with lipstick-rimmed Lucky Strikes defiantly smashed into their centers.
The feel of the place is 50’s diner meets swing club meets low key mafia meetings, the kind of meetings they had when they were experiencing relatively peaceful, lucrative times–when the day promised cash, pizza, coffee, and broads as opposed to shootings, stabbings, drug overdoses, and jailtime. Though to be honest, there’s a bit of those things in the air there too. The narrow room goes far back and is split length-ways in the middle with an open dividing wall which makes for interesting, intimate seating and a feel of looking through windows at the stage side of the room, which is where the larger mafia booths and tables for 2 or 4 take up the floor.
Hell, let me just describe it this way: I was just in there last night. A Tuesday. A woman walked in that I could only describe as a real dame. She approached the bar with familiarity. She wore a sexy black dress from the 40’s. She wore lipstick. Her hair had those soft curls that women seemed to wake up with back then. Oh, and she had a giant white parrot on her shoulder. The parrot left her shoulder casually and side stepped onto the rails of the bar where waitresses wait for their drink orders to place on a tray. The parrot then grabbed a clear drinking straw in its beak and right foot, and proceeded to entertain itself the best it could. A drink, whiskey on the rocks, was placed before the woman without any words exchanged.
So it’s that kind of place.
And we’re gonna be there this Friday, February 26th, at 9:30pm for just 5 clams. We’ll be joined by Ryan Lukas on upright bass and Zac Johnson on clarinet and bass clarinet.
Come join us. And bring your parrots. We’ll take care of all that other stuff.