Thursday, August 02, 2001

Harlem Nights ~ by Gina Larson

I quickly popped uptown - way uptown - to Harlem's most famous nightclub, The Lenox Lounge. Jim Sosnicky's roving gang of revelers took over the Zebra Room and most of the upfront bar area to celebrate one of his last installments in his, "Great American Bar Tour." I was able to catch up with Jim and a bunch of the other regulars while sipping a dirty martini in the booth where jazz-crooner Billy Holiday slumped, er, sat. The live band nearly blocked off the front entrance, but was keeping the crowd inside by pumping them up with a steady supply of deftly executed R&B classics. There was a great vibe pulsating through the art-deco bar as the mixed crowd of Harlem locales, sleek-suited professionals and artisans started mingling and mixing.

Alas, my departure was too soon. Mr. Sosnicky reports, "Even the snap-snap-snap waitresses started having fun with us. They gave me their emails so that they could come out next week. And these pretty French girls were swing dancing with these handsome young black guys...which made the band work even harder to keep them all entertained. At the end, the band switched suddenly from swing to rock and brought down the house with an awesome version of Purple Rain...ending with the shirtless guitar player arching his back off the floor, while the last chords screamed out of the Stratocaster, resting on his sweaty belly. Girls collapsed into guys arms, numbers were exchanged, lips were locked. It was just smooth and carefree and fun. You can't go wrong with the Lenox Lounge." More info.