No fish swim within the aquarium at the Triple Door. The tank, which is maybe 20 feet long and 3 feet tall, forms one wall of the Musicquarium bar, named in honor of its prodigious beauty (and that of Stevie Wonder). Within recent memory, its tropical waters were colorfully populous—now, an opaque scrim with a mesmerizing, sunset-like projection lines it. What happened to the fish?


A phone call to the venue was less than revealing. They'd had a little problem with the aquarium—it was being fixed. What kind of little problem?

"It's just being fixed. We had a little problem with it," was the cagey reply. Repetition: not the way to dispel curiosity. I dispatched myself to investigate.

Soon I was seated at the bar, discovering by happy accident the Triple Door's happy hour, which involves highballs made with decent-quality spirits as well as decent snacks from Wild Ginger upstairs for $3. (The barbecued pork is an extra-good version of the Chinese restaurant variety; hot mustard, sesame seeds, sans the red dye around the edges.) In the auditorium, a band no one would own up to knowing the name of was filming a music video; clots of cute indie rockers appeared and disappeared. A woman with a fantastic zigzag-patterned white satin outfit—hat, long jacket, clutch purse, even matching open-toed shoes that she displayed with pride upon being complimented—sat two seats away, drinking cognac with a splash of Coke and murmuring in a beautiful accent of unknown origin to her fedora- and dark-glasses-wearing companion. The hot bartenders conferred discreetly about some piece of gossip that could be, tantalizingly, only nearly overheard. Wineglasses stood silently waiting on tables in the dim distance for, surely, wine would be drunk. The cumulative, fairly magical effect was of being at the center of a lot of hushed excitement you don't quite understand.

Under the gentlest interrogation, one of the hot bartenders spilled the fish story. It had happened on New Year's Day; had it occurred the night before, when the place was packed, well... (Here, a shrug of hopeless wonder at disaster averted.) The aquarium, with no warning whatsoever, sprung a sudden leak in its southeast corner, and the pressure within the mammoth tank caused water to spray out across the room. (This miniature indoor ocean holds an enormous amount of water: 1,800 gallons, according to this hot bartender.) A flood began to spread across the floor. The very element of the fish was seeping—nay, spraying—away. Thinking quickly, the hot bartender and a presumably hot coworker were able to temporarily stanch the leak using some sort of unspecified MacGyveresque techniques. The fish remained, in the greatly reduced circumstances of just a foot or so of water, but alive! The next day they were scooped out and sent into foster care at the tropical fish store from whence they came.

When will the fish return? Soon. recommended

Support The Stranger

Happy hour at the Triple Door (216 Union St, 838-4333) is 4–6 pm every day.

Washington Ensemble Theatre presents amber, a sensory installation set in the disco era
In this 30-minute multimedia experience, lights & sounds guide groups as they explore a series of immersive spaces.