McLeod Residence is surrounded by exotic rumors. A few people change their last name to McLeod, then start a members-only club in a labyrinth of rooms in Belltown where (it is said) a murder took place, and next thing you know, other people are saying it's a cult.
McLeod Residence is an art gallery, a bar, a laboratory, the occasional site of haircuts, and at least several other things, but it is not a cult. Yes, names were changed, but this was done in an act of solidarity to the enterprise and, in at least one case, merely because it is possible to change one's name. The (not-all-that-exotic) rumor that cofounders Buster McLeod and Lele McLeod funded the place with filthy-rich amounts of money made at Microsoft: also false. Buster's small fortune, from his work in robotics, has been long since depleted by the Residence's operating costs; Lele, while of obscure royal lineage, came from California and has never set foot on the Eastside.
If McLeod Residence sounds arcane, it is perhaps deliberately so. As of last week, you may go see for yourself: The lounge, previously only-McLeods-allowed, is now open to the public. The doorway is just next to the entry to Txori (convenient for a fancy Spanish snack; if you're feeling poorer/more American, a hot dog at Shorty's is not far). To get to the McLeod lounge, ascend the precipitous wooden staircase, turn left, go through the first non-dead-end door into the room of illuminated lightboxes (aka the South Room), and veer to the right.
(The site of the murder, which did actually occur, is the bathroom, past the bar. During the place's days as a speakeasy, someone involved in the operation was involved with the daughter of a local Chinese businessman/mobster; this someone was beheaded in there. Now the bathroom houses a mesmerizing digital mirror that builds your image out of innumerable miniature images of those who've gone before. Another rumor that's true: The premises are rented from a Buddhist patron of the arts who's distantly related to Andy Warhol. But, false: The supposedly Warholian Campbell's soup cans that came with the place proved to date from the 1980s, with recycling symbols to boot. True: One of the rooms used to have a sex swing bolted to the ceiling. And: A strange brick chimney in another room contains a scary cubbyhole.)
McLeod Residence is officially devoted to "extraordinary living through art, technology, and collaboration," and while all sorts of cocktails are available, there is an unofficial devotion to champagne. Living is to be celebrated! On opening-to-the-public night, celebrants included a lady in a spangled evening gown and a navy seaman, uniformed but wearing shorts of unmilitary shortness (and rumored not to be in the navy at all).
McLeod Residence, 2209 Second Ave, 441-3314.