An essential experience for Georgetown students, especially those suffering from Bubble Fever, is exploring D.C.’s nightlife. One of the more well-known spots in D.C.’s nightlife scene is Black Cat. To say that Black Cat, located by 14th and S, understands the importance of music in a social atmosphere would be an understatement. This Adams Morgan bar/restaurant/cafe/club embodies the eclecticism encouraged amongst hipster communities around the nation. So much so, in fact, that two visits in two days have yielded two completely different experiences.
My first visit took place on an uneventful Friday evening. Black Cat was hosting a Dance Yourself Clean party, one of many indie pop parties which are organized around the nation; after $15 and a hand-mark indicating that I was underage, I was admitted. The lower-level consisted of a classic American bar (an outdated jukebox, booths, pool tables, darts, etc.) with a lively atmosphere. The upper-level, however, was every bit as “indie” as the advertisement promised. A stage, consisting of a small band and a few cameras, stood before a large and eccentric crowd dancing to music by and inspired by artists like CHVRCHES, Grimes, and LCD Soundsystem.
While the music was stellar, the other aspects of the venue were painfully typical; the line to get in was quite long, the volume of the music overbearing at times, and the drinks neither cheap nor interesting (I feel it is important to note that their most popular drink option is the $5 PBR tallboy). Unfortunately, problems like these are only to be expected in today’s cities. I still consider this event a comparatively great option for students who enjoy music and dancing but not Top 40.
The overall experience was positive enough for me to decide to return the next day. However, rather than an indie dance party, Black Cat was hosting blues rock band People’s Blues of Richmond. After another $15 and convincing the bouncer that the hand-mark from my previous visit was not coming off anytime soon, I was again free to explore the building. The lower-level remained unchanged; there were just as many flannel shirts and overalls as the night before, although probably for different reasons. The upper-level, however, was nearly unrecognizable. The white-and-black checkered dance floor, the stage, and the oversized and overpriced PBRs remained, but everything else was completely different; the indie rave scene had been replaced by a tamer rock crowd. The atmosphere had changed from ecstatic to comfortable. That was, at least, until the band played.
People’s Blues of Richmond consists of a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist/frontman, all of whom helped maintain a playful atmosphere. I understand that performing is a three-drink activity, but these guys were chasing [large] swigs of Jim Bean with PBR in between each song. Although they seemed younger than most of the crowd, they were experienced, talented musicians with the skills to prove it; the drummer, in a club backed by the mighty Dave Grohl himself, might have punched a hole through the drum-set had he had another few drinks. The bassist was not charismatic, but he never failed to provide
an impressively tight bass line. The frontman, however, was able to win the audience over before the first song had even ended. His powerful voice matched with superb finger-skills alone was enough to electrify each and every listener. Although their music may not stand the test of time (clichéd Rock’n’Roll themes with uninventive instrumentation is not exactly what music needs today), they definitely have enough stage presence and musical talent to complement a good night.
What I find most appealing about Black Cat is that it was able to fit seamlessly around each of these events; on Friday I could not imagine a southern rock concert taking place on that stage, and by Saturday I had all but forgotten the hipster atmosphere of the day before. Black Cat is truly an amorphous venue, as their scheduled events may indicate. If Village A rooftops are finally starting to lose their luster and you feel a case of Bubble Fever, Black Cat is not a bad option.