West Palm Beach's nightlife scene has endured its share of ups and downs. The spark on Clematis Street is arguably a fragment of what it used to be, but buoyancy and change have always been a part of the bond that holds music lovers in South Florida together. Businesses ebb and flow, and music venues... well, they come and go.
But one long-term holdout celebrates a milestone this weekend, as Respectable Street gets ready to party it up for the club's 20th anniversary. There's a massive block party planned for the weekend, with music galore and loads of activities for people to enjoy. Owner Rodney Mayo and promoter Steve Rullman culled 20 bands from the tricounty area to line Clematis and play music all night, helping to bring the intangible pulse of Respectable Street into the calle where patrons need it most. Asked if he ever thought his bar would be around this long, Mayo's answer couldn't have explained it better.
"When I first opened the bar, I said I would be open two years and do something else. After five years, I said I'd only do it for ten years. After ten years, something happened, and I started enjoying it more. Now, I haven't set any more closing dates, and I'm having a lot of fun."
Respectable Street's 20th-anniversary party takes place Saturday, September 15, in the 500 block of Clematis Street, West Palm Beach. Visit www.myspace.com/respectablestreetlive, or call 561-714-2382.
For a retrospective, Outtakes recently spoke to some local musicians and gathered their favorite moments of playing Respectables over the years.
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• "One of the most memorable shows I've played there was when Billy Boloby headlined the 'New Year's Eve Smash and Grab' party in 2003. About ten minutes before our set, a friend informed me that our bass player, Herman, got mugged in front of the club. Because the police station is across the street, he went in to fill out a report. Problem was, they wouldn't let him leave till he was done. We couldn't wait any longer, so I ended up playing bass for the first song. Right as we were about to start the [second] song, Herman came running onto the stage and grabbed his bass. Given our reputation for show pranks, everyone thought we were bullshitting, playing off the 'Smash and Grab' theme. Meanwhile, poor Herman had a black eye. But in the end, the night was a blast. I always like playing shows where balls drop." — Billy Boloby (Pots N Pans)
• "My favorite memories are just the afterparties and stuff with Rodney. You get offstage, suddenly it's someone's birthday, they close the doors, and we're partying till daylight. The fact that it's a community, it's not just people going to a bar — that makes all the difference. You end up being friends with half the place once you've been there a few times. I think Rodney just embodies that." — Keith Michaud (Summerblanket)
• "You know, the first time we played there, back in 1990, they bought us pizza, gave us drink tickets, really rolled out the red carpet. They treated us like rock stars, and it was our first time. Rodney's always been really cool about making sure bands get treated decent. My favorite memory is probably hanging out with Jesus Lizard up in the band room. When they played, Dave Yow stuck a mic in my face out of nowhere and said, 'Sing!' Well, I didn't sing anything, and David bit me in the face. One year, I was Santa Claus. I tried to be a really good Santa, but I was going through a bad breakup, and I was really mean and drunk. It was bad... that was '98. I was mad that I didn't get to play, so I really had to ham it up." — Rick Ambrose (Ex-Cretons/the Bikes)
• "It's really fun, and I've been going there since I was 16 and I was too young to get in. We've only played there once, and I was really intimidated 'cause the place is so cool. I think there needs to be more places like this — venues for local music. For there to be any local music in this area, you need to have a Respectables!" — Mary Sheffield (Zombies! Organize!!)