Hard to believe downtown West Palm's one and only Respectable Street Café is a ripe 17 years old. The Clematis Street club, long considered the oldest progressive bar in the Southeastern United States, is the cornerstone of nightlife on the city's famous strip.
Founded by ex-film student turned club impresario Rodney Mayo in 1987, Respectable Street (lovingly referred to over the years with endearments like "Respectahoes," "Rejectables," or simply, "Respects") was the first to set up shop on Clematis. Since then, it's been responsible for bringing unique, alternative, and electronic-based music to an area rarely exposed to it. Past bookings read like a who's who of legendary artists: Killing Joke, Meat Beat Manifesto, LTJ Bukem, Haujobb, DJ Icey, Revolting Cocks, and many other acts that sprang from the rave era and MTV's 120 Minutes have all made their marks on the venerable club.
The venue still holds live shows, leaning toward rock, industrial, and leftfield electronic, and thrives on DJ nights and listening parties. Friday's popular Warsaw night features DJs KloV and Bettiegirl spinning synth-pop, '80s, and dark dance delights from VNV Nation to the Faint. Saturday's Floorshow Candy party swoons to Britpop DJs Bitchwax and Morrissey Mike. Drink specials abound both nights, and there's usually no cover. Out back, the roofless outdoor garden features live bands and provides a breather from the pulsating beats inside.
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Even after 17 years, the club reeks of underground street cred, and its cutting edge is still sharp. While other clubs come and go with the ebb and flow of fickle music audiences, Respectable Street lives up to its name by simply sticking to its guns, waving its flag for the alternative nation of yesterday and today. Celebrate 17 Years of Oblivion on Friday, December 17, and Saturday, December 18, at Respectable Street Café, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. 21 and older. No cover. Call 561-832-9999.