Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

November 20–27, 1997

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The 700 Club: (L to R) Tracy Stanton, Chris Sey and Kurt Wunder.


Ring-A-Ding Inc.

The changing face of Sinatra's lounge: 700 and the Eighth Street Lounge.

by a.d. amorosi

Your city's overrun with neon olives, crashed sidecars and tilted martini glasses. Your barrooms are scented of old vermouth and cigar smoke. Your lipstick is smeared, you're teetering on your heels, your Windsor knot's a mess and you're trying too hard to be heard and be seen.

Frank Sinatra—if dead—would be rolling in his grave. I know Dean and Sammy are. According to Esquire mag's Bill Zehme in The Way You Wear Your Hat: Sinatra And The Lost Art of Livin' (HarperCollins), today's lounging world lacks the class, grace or swing of Frank's era. For the art of being a "broad" or a "pallie" (like Frank) is to be a constant "gasser," a person who revels in mannerly delight and smart dress sense.

Three years ago, Zehme asked the 79-year-old Sinatra to write a few words about life's essential questions; the stuff that could save a guy's life. To Zehme's surprise, the Chairman of the Bored gave him 30 pugnaciously punctilious answers drenched in old world manners and space-age koo-koo-ness.

Frank was a loner who hated being alone; a man who loved sleeplessness and dear friends, but loathed ill-mannered dames, cheap men and the press. He treasured the clink of ice in a tumbler of Jack Daniels and his mother above all. The Way You Wear Your Hat tries to guide today's anxiety-driven male through life, romance, friendship, dress sense and drinking.

According to Frank, life is about being true to yourself and staying away from dark thoughts. Remember: "Never rat on a rat." As for drinking, smoking and partying, Frank is about forward-motion, refusing to be sequestered from where people, music and conversation "flow like Jack Daniels" till the wee small hours of the morning.

Frank's forward thinking partially guides 700 and the Eighth Street Lounge—two boozy emporiums with new ideas on how lounge life should be lived.

Religiously known as "The 700 Club," the silver-doored, two-floored corner of 700 N. Second St. is a cozy, comfy house where "flow" is natural.

"The neighborhood's not tainted," says co-owner Chris Sey of an area still finding itself. "We're not about reconstructing an era like a stage set. We want to avoid recreating a 'traditional mood' because it seems plastic," he adds. "The effect we want is taking an old space and putting in comfortable stuff people want."

Owned by the old-guard, Khyber/Troc triumvirate of bartender Sey, 25, tech guy/producer/Mel's Rockpile bassist Tracy Stanton, 26, and barkeep/Rat Pack DJ/hockey puck Kurt Wunder, 31, 700's working direction is kitsch without hoke; a loving poke at home economics class with an eye toward art deco.

"We're not looking to be lounge-specific," says Wunder. He refers not only to design, but also the preferred styles of music which will include everything from piano/organ jazz guys like Tiny Scott and Mark Boyce to noisemonger Brother J.T.

"We want rich alcoholics standing next to bell-bottomed types—just like the Khyber's old happy hour," explains Wunder. Downstairs, a mottled-blue room is decorated with a 1940s bar, dart boards and stained glass windows from Brian Willette.

Upstairs, a pale apartment filled with the comforts of home shows off the club's true nature. "It's mom 'n' pop time," explains Stanton. "Downstairs is a basement bar." Soon he's reminiscing about the East Village comfy-couched bars that inspired 700. Plush red chairs from the '40s, depression glass coffee tables (thrown out by ACME Design) and a backlit bathroom doubling as DJ booth make the fun rattle 'n' hum.

Rattle 'n' hum is even more pervasive at Billy Weiss' mammoth Eighth Street Lounge, set in a space that was once a garage. The 27-year-old Weiss collaborated with designer Bill Staples (owner of the Barbary) to create "a textural lounge where contradicting forces come together." Cold concrete and warm woods play off one another. Rather than create a typical bar space, Weiss' dream was to have an environment that was gargantuan but comfortable.

"I want people to relax. I don't think that's possible in a lot of places [because] people are always looking down at you. Plus, I think the kooky lounge thing's done to death."

Billy stumbled into his dream spot while looking to rent a U-Haul truck. A functioning blue garage door welcomes you off Callowhill. Inside, the room is lined with a couple of electric fireplaces, patina-coated concrete, brick and a cherry wood ice box. Original decor, like the blades of an exhaust fan, is both daunting and thrilling.

Taking a cue from Manhattan's 10th Street Lounge, this room is high-ceilinged like a cathedral, yet cold and industrial.

When I ask Weiss' father, Barney—the co-owner of the Weiss spaces that include Grape Street and the Palmer—about the style of the space, he responds with a laugh: "It's early Philly garage." The customized cherry and black bar is bathed in orange, translucent light and a candle-engulfed church bench makes anyone who sits there feel holy but small.

With old soul, R&B and funk blaring out of spiraling speakers, Weiss sees Eighth Street as a pre-clubbing spot; an environment where 25- to 40-year-olds can chill, groove and get comfy before going out, "like to the Palmer," he laughs.

Mike Syminsky of Manayunk's Steven's has come up with a hip, light menu to fill your inner comfort zone. It's witchcraft, baby!

SPACEJUNK: After taking part last weekend in Bid For Life—the Free Library's auction for AIDS Information Network (with Dr. Deb Miller, Keith Brand, Quentin Crisp), Warhol-stalwart/photographer Christopher Makos gets an emulsion rinse at Shampoo with a show/book signing for Makos Men: Sewn Photos (Pohlmann). Makos is known for White Trash and Warhol (as well as hanging with Anthony Perkins). The Friday, Nov. 21 exhibit is on the male nude. Whoa!. . . After haunting gigs with Tapping The Vein and Vampire Love Dolls, Patrick Roger's Dancing Ferret Co. tucks into a permanent (?) venue at St. Mary's Church, 3916 Locust Walk, on the Penn campus. The newly renovated (with juiced-up sound system) church played host long ago to many local and national hardcore punk bands. Rogers' next shows are Cleopatra label darlings Switchblade Symphony (Nov. 21) and The New Creatures/Sunshine Blind (Nov. 28)—two bands Eldritch from Sisters of Mercy kicked off his tour for being "too gothic." Hey, you can never be too gothic. . . Ex-Scruffy the Cat gut Charlie Chesterman (famed for producing the Rolling Hayseeds) plays Sam Adams Saturday, Nov. 22, with Marah as tempestuous opener. . . As David Heydt prepares Mandarin-melded dishes for Bobby Startup's Saint Jack opening weekend, Sweet & Sour Silk's got more on its mind than dim sum. Every Sunday, along with a Chinese brunch ($10), you can get a massage 'round 3 p.m. "I'm always hung over on Sunday," says Silk co-owner Larry McGearty, "so a rub down is the perfect cure. But no washee-washee.". . . Swinging promoter/producer Aaron Levinson's Ryko-Latino imprint strikes paydirt soon with CDs from his first several artists: Tambo, featuring Johnny Almendra and Louis Bauzo; Son De La Loma, featuring Alfredo Rodriguez and Armando Sanchez; and the raucous sounds of Bongo Logic and Jimmy Bosch (the musical director for tropicalia sensation Marc Anthony), who smoked The Five Spot last Thursday. . . Congrats to Cycle Sounder Gary Ferenchak on a new gig as producer for EFC. Ferenchak, familiar for his Troc sound, was responsible for noise-levelin' Jane's Addiction and Metallica. Congrats to film publicist Frank Chile. He's spreadin' the news for Allied Advertising.

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