Respectable Street is known for its atmosphere. There's the dance floor that's been scuffed at least a million times over, the glowing bar and wide couches that face each other, the intimate backyard where a slew of awkward covers have been sung during Saturday night karaoke.
However, the venue looked a little more polished Saturday night for its 27th anniversary celebration. Actually, "a little more" is an understatement. Respectables closed for a couple days before the party for renovations, so patrons arrived to find a newly varnished floor, murals and paintings by local artists, and a wall full of old flyers and pictures. Amid bunches of white balloons adorning the inside bar, surreal videos were projected on the white walls, which looked progressively stranger as the night progressed.
On five stages throughout the evening, a whopping 27 bands performed. In between sets, DJs spun indie and electro tunes, allowing guests to start making fresh metaphorical and literal marks on the dance floor.
The variety of music showcased and the crowd reflected Respectables' long and rich history. It's clear how important the club has been to all of South Florida's nightlife scene, and Saturday felt like a homecoming as old friends caught up with each other and chatted freely with band members.
From 8 to 9 p.m., guests enjoyed a free open bar, and they weren't afraid to take advantage of it. Some were even triple-fisting cocktails. Out front, on Clematis, the hungry enjoyed free pizza and watched bands like Fort Lauderdale's Riot Act and West Palm Beach's Lavola take over the main stage.
Guests could take a break from the large crowds at the three Respectable stages and head over to the two quieter ones at LongBoards and Hullabaloo across the street. On the latter restaurant's back patio, indie folk band Mandy Moon's band consisted of mostly FAU students. It performed a memorable and impressive rendition of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" dominated by piano and bass. Miami garage band Bearhead immediately followed, bringing some Strokes-inspired guitar wailing to the cozy patio.
As experimental and trip-hop project the Astrea Corporation took the Respectables inside stage, fog seeped out over the crowd with red lights shining through it. This, coupled with the band's trippy electronic grooves, gave off a drug-like haze that hypnotized the audience. Barely a muscle budged during the performance.
While Smiths cover band the Ordinary Boys performed on the main stage at midnight, free cake arrived outside, which everyone quickly stuffed in their faces.
One of the last bands to perform, Lake Worth bluegrass outfit Jangle Leg, turned the inside of LongBoards from a surf-inspired restaurant into an underground rock club. The band, led by guitarist and harmonica player Chuck Callaway, busted out tunes that sounded like Johnny Cash on crack. One of the highlights of Jangle Leg's set was band member Croosh, a big, shirtless guy who played a washboard with spoons, draped over his sweaty chest. The band concluded its set with a cover of the classic sea shanty "Drunken Sailor," to which guys playfully moshed and girls jigged and square-danced.
On a strip that's known for clubs mainly geared toward a younger crowd, it was refreshing to see a venue like Respectable Street bring both young and old music lovers together. A Palm Beach County staple that certainly hasn't lost its touch, here's to another 27 years.
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