Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Cha Cha Lounge: trying just a little too hard

In my ongoing pilgrimage to all bars of interest east of Cahuenga, C and I visited the Cha Cha Lounge at 2375 Glendale Boulevard in Silverlake (diagonally across the street from Gingergrass) on Saturday night. Once again, we arrived just in time to snag prime seats on the far side of the bar.

The bar, an oval full-tiki concept with grass roof, is oddly pushed to the side, so that the inside stools have only a narrow pass-through between them and the wall. Odd. Meant that we made the acquaintance of all who passed, but still odd, since there's lots of room between the other side of the bar and the wall o' red vinyl booths against the opposite.

This is a BIG room, with booths, tables, two Foosball tables in the back, but no pinball (which is OK), no jukebox or DJ (not OK, we'll get to that), and annoyingly, a one-stall ladies room that meant an inevitable lineup. Tchotchkes and gewgaws hanging from the ceiling, walls, and any other surface. Tacky Christmas decor in full force. Bartenders are quick and pleasant. Crowd is mixed, agewise, to a point.

Great people watching and one observation: What's with the Jesus look? We spotted at least 5 guys who were rocking the long hair, beard, mustache combo, and not in a stylized way, but in the unmistakable Jesus configuration. For someone who's still recovering from Catholic school many years later, this is unsettling. Guys, love the hair, lose at least some of the facial sprouts!

My verdict on the Cha Cha Lounge: Good, not great. Unpretentious, but what with the decor and the selfconscious hipsters, too much of an air of trying. One wants to be in a bar with hip people, but not all people who are hip need to assume the hipster persona to get through the night, know what I mean?

And the music: There was a turntable, but nobody personning it. Music was a bartender's iPod hooked up to the sound system....would've been fine if he just put it on shuffle, but no, we had to listen to the "best" of Wings, straight through, and then a Phil Spector anthology. My brain can handle the occasional Wings song in rotation, but a whole procession of that pap? No way. I warned the other bartender that my head might explode...he apologized repeatedly and even once more when I paid up. Points for politeness but do something about the music, please.

Comparisons are odious department: The age spread and ethnicity is more varied at the Chalet, pleasantly so. Also, the Chalet is confident enough in its Chaletness not to need tchotchkes. Will I go back? Well, it's right handy to Gingergrass, so parking the car just once has its attractions...probably.

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