Food & Drink

Bar Exam

The Cha Cha's Successful Transplantation

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"THE END IS toNIGHt" read the chalkboard behind the bar on the last night at the old location of the Cha Cha. (That entire block on East Pine Street, also home to the Bus Stop, Manray, and Kincora, will be demolished for a condominium development; until then, the former Cha Cha will house what's been called "a seedy gay disco.") The closing party, with the attendant trashing of the already-fairly-trashed space, had already occurred, on June 6; the last night was June 10; the new Cha Cha, mere blocks away, opened June 14. The pressing question: Where would Cha Cha–goers, a fiercely loyal hipster/rock-and-roll crowd that's highly motivated vis-à-vis inebriation, drink and pick each other up and hog the bathroom on June 11th, 12th, and 13th?

On the last night, one fixture claimed that he would not be going out in the interim and that, furthermore, he would not go to the new incarnation of the Cha Cha at all, ever. His explanation—"I've got enough stuff going on in my life, so maybe I don't need that," and, furthermore, that living right around the corner rendered the four-block walk unthinkable—was met with skepticism by his compatriots. (He ultimately said he wouldn't go to the Pike Street location "for a while.") Another loyalist—a girl with a boy's name—said she would spend the intervening days "Nowhere," choosing to corporeally dematerialize while awaiting the grand opening rather than patronize another bar. A Sammy Hagar look-alike evaded the issue, saying he only went to the Cha Cha at all because some of his friends worked there, hence, free drinks.

Many of Sunday night's faces were visible in the intensely red light of the new location on Thursday, where by around 10:00 p.m. the bar, with its fresh first dollar bill pinned up in the back, was mobbed. (The Cha Cha is now in the basement under what used to be Des Amis, which is now the Cha Cha's also-relocated burrito outlet, Bimbo's.) The black booths and loud music and fashion choices (diagonal-striped ´80s minidresses; the timeless Keith Richards look) have been successfully transplanted. The space is maybe twice as big, the ceiling maybe twice as high, the Mexi-cantina décor maybe twice as elaborate. New additions include a taxidermied deer wearing a sombrero, a vending machine selling tiny sombreros (and chips, candy, condoms, cigarettes, tampons, Rambo trading cards), and even more sombreros affixed to the ceiling than before (along with floral garlands, paper lanterns, and a disco ball lost among it all, spinning lethargically). There are now two bathrooms—the women's even has two stalls—which is good news for those who actually have to go. They're marked with drawings of Chihuahuas, one femme, the other lifting its leg. One guy scrutinizing the wrong door in the dim hallway was reassured by another that he'd done the same thing.

Cha Cha, 1013 E Pike St, 322-0703

bethany@thestranger.com

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