How was She?
Like watching a post-modern vaudeville rom-com
She Theatre and Lounge at 321 E. M.B. Brady St.
From the sidewalk it sounded like The Bang Bang Bar. She Theatre and Lounge was oozing frantic brass melodies and percussives that pulsed like a quick heart beat. I kept walking that night, but this first impression lasted, and I stayed curious about She.
She’s usually closed. Regular hours are Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., which is only 12 hours per week, though weekday private parties can be arranged. She hosts monthly burlesque shows, which typically run from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30, and more frequent aerial dance and lyra shows, which start around 10 and continue until midnight.
When I recently made it beyond the threshold, She wasn’t what She had seemed. A combination theater, lounge, and nightclub, She looks, smells, and feels like a debutante on the brink of an identity crisis. She has two bars, a stage, a dance floor, and chandeliers drooping from the ceiling. She was on nightclub mode that night, and the DJ was playing all the club favorites and banger remixes.
There isn’t a cocktail menu, but She employs some creative bartenders. I almost ordered the $2 PBR special but asked for a Manhattan instead. The bartender said he was out of an essential ingredient and offered to make something similar.
I saw him mix Maker’s Mark, grenadine, and ice in a shaker and strain the mixture to a cocktail glass. Though nearly the color of a Manhattan, this tasted more like the Laffy Taffy flavor approximation of a Manhattan, or a little like a bizarre Negroni.
Never mind the cocktails. For a place that self-describes as “opulent,” with neon script that spells, “Check my diamonds, they’re flawless,” She feels more like Florida’s Versailles than Marie Antoinette’s.
Between the two bars, halfway from the dance floor and vacant stage, I sipped my whiskey and grenadine. I watched people have as much fun as you can in a bar with dance-y video game music. It was like watching a post-modern vaudeville rom-com.
Next round, I tried the other bar, closer to the stage. They were also out of bitters and/or vermouth. But this bartender didn’t try to mimic a cocktail She wasn’t stocked to create. She made an ambiguously boozy cherry-lime concoction, and it was the best drink I had all night.