Tonight saw the end of one of London’s coolest and most exclusive bars – the Slightly Shady Lounge Bar.
Having been open for no more than a few months, the Shady in Soho was an effortlessly chic drinking den. Not the only bar of its type to open over the last few years, but certainly the coolest – and only open to those in the know – word of mouth soon attracting the right crowd.
Down a narrow staircase hidden behind a velvet curtain you found yourself in a beautifully decorated intimate 2-room bar. An original 50s basement with wooden beamed ceiling – it being so low in the smaller of the two rooms that you literally had to crouch to enter.
The walls were covered in phonographic and burlesque memorabilia, and generous drinks were served by the prettiest barmaid in town from behind from a small original 50s bar.
I had a number of memorable nights down there – particularly late on Fridays after retiring from the Lady Luck club. The place would be full with up to 100 sexy and smartly-dressed characters drinking till dawn to a soundtrack of blues and jazz.
Shortly before closing I was even lucky enough to catch an impromptu solo acoustic set from the wonderful James Hunter.
But back to tonight… after celebrating Dave Edwards’ 40th birthday down in Blackfriars, we made it to Soho bumping into a crowd of older hipsters who’d been celebrating Chris Lane’s 50th in the company of legends such as Gladdy Wax and Studio One Pete.
Into the Shady and we were immediately engulfed in a sea of deep harmonica blues and guitar licks à la Elmore James.
There was an air of tension as everyone present knew this was the end. And after a couple of hours the night suddenly went out with a bang – literally! A crazy drunken bar-room brawl erupted and stopped things in their tracks. After things had calmed down and the culprits thrown out, I decided to call it a night and leave with some fantastic memories intact.
Off to Bar Italia to sober up before heading home at dawn reflecting on the sad changes occuring to Soho and the wonderful city of London at an ever-increasing rate.
The Slightly Shady bar was one-of-a-kind and will be truly missed.
Jean-Paul Séculaire, Saturday 14th January 2006
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