The last time I went out with Westo and Kittykat, we celebrated old-school New York. This time around was no exception.
On Friday night, after what felt to me like the longest week EVER, we met up at Cafe Wha, a subterranean haunt in Greenwich Village. I had never been there before, and I don't know The Village very well anyway, so there was much (inner) rejoicing when I arrived at the right place to find Kittykat, Jimbo and his fiancee M-Train on the footpath outside. Westo's cab arrived a few minutes later and downstairs we went.
Cafe Wha has been entertaining people since the 1950s and one of the first things you notice about it is that it is dark. It's one of those basement-level, dingy bars that you'd expect to find in New York, but there is something about it that is so exciting too. Maybe it's the music paraphernalia around the walls, album posters and Rolling Stone covers harking back to the 1960s and 1970s. Or maybe it's the wall-mounted TVs dotted around the room that blast out music videos spanning decades. Or perhaps, and this is my guess, it's the small stage area in the middle of the bar, set up for a live band. And not just any live band, but the Cafe Wha band - known as "the best Goddamn house band in the city". We settled down in a booth by the back of the bar and waited for the magic to start.
My night started with sooo many delicious buffalo chicken wings and buckets o' beer (oh yeeeah) and then a comedian took the stage as a warm-up act. He'd been on the Dave Chappelle show before, though I'd missed it, but he was really good. I always admire stand-up comedians for even getting out there in the first place, but he was good and the audience enjoyed his act. Plus when he came off the stage, he walked past our booth towards the wait staff who were nearby, and I could see how relieved he was that his act had gone over well.
Before long, the band took the stage and the night was on like Donkey Kong. I did my typical edge-of-the-seat anticipation dance, rocking it out like the whitest girl in the room. Heading out to the bathrooms, I passed a very sharp-dressed man whose sequinned waistcoat and suit jacket had caught my magpie's eye. I told him he looked fabulous and he thanked me, baby. Cafe Wha was just getting better and better.
A few minutes later, my sparkly friend took the stage with the band and introduced himself as The Soul Man. Like some sort of southern preacher, he bounded around the stage, singing some of the best old-time hits, looking and sounding like someone just beamed in from old school Motown. I was in heaven. He was casting spells on the ladies left and right. He dragged a Norwegian man up on stage and got him to demonstrate his "soul walk". The poor man didn't have much of a soul walk, but nevertheless right on cue, his legs and arms turned to rubber and he ROCKED IT OUT. I was super impressed - even the Soul Man seemed to love it.
Then I got super jealous of the Hispanic waiters because the Cafe Wha band took us to Spain and played some Gipsy Kings. I was trying to sing along of course, and the fact that I know very little Spanish just made the whole exercise more pathetic. But I gave the chorus of this one my best shot.
Me, Westo and Kittykat carved up the tiny dancefloor a few times too, belting out a bit of Cee-Lo Green, The Beatles, and Journey, among others. The repertoire of the band was really impressive, and their charisma really helped get the audience on side, not to mention on their feet.
We got to Cafe Wha at 8.30pm on Friday night and finally stumbled back upstairs close to 2.30am. Where had that time gone? I'm not normally a stay-out-late person, but I had such a fabulous time, I can't even tell you. The bar is hosting a booze cruise on 18 June and I think I might need to be part of that. I need to take my fantastic dancing skills on the water. Plus I need to keep my eye on the gorgeous band members, and see what sequin numbers The Soul Man is gonna rock.