Al (the alley cat) went through hell to get to where he is now. And now that he’s been adopted by the newly-opened Red Palace (formerly neighbors The Palace of Wonders and The Red and the Black), he’s not going to let anyone else push him around.
Al perches himself regularly on the end of the bar, so better to inspect the entering clientele. A glass of water and cat food are kept for him on the other end.
Bargoers who pet too heavily can look forward to an aggressive hiss or worse. But for the most part, Al is happy to live and let live. With the notch in his ear that means he is neutered and ready to party, Al gives some live spice to the bar, which features taxidermied goats, dogs, birds and other attractions like mermaids, unicorns and shrunken heads.
Because while the new venue is more concert-friendly than the smaller stage in the old Palace of Wonders would permit, the freak flag still flies. Wednesday’s show featured the ever-popular burlesque, hillbilly music, vaudeville style ukulele and steel drum bickering brother duo, and of course someone sticking metal spikes up their nose. Everyone involved in the freak show (as I affectionately call it) is quite jovial–happy you’re there, happy to serve up some PBR and rail drinks, happy to take your $10 cash for the show on the way in.
I’m pretty sure there’s a reasonable explanation for the trick, but seeing a woman swallow a four foot long balloon right in front of you still boggles the mind. Then add the six inch metal spike up the nose, and you’ve got a show, my friend.
Wednesdays are the variety show [read: at least some burlesque] nights; other nights feature musical acts, nerd nights, and a passel of DJs.
With the gentrification-creep that has arrived on H Street (and at the risk of sounding extra-hipsterish), the place is not as shockingly freak-worthy as it used to be. But we can rest easy knowing that there will always be freaks in the most surprising of places. The Red Palace is for them. It’s not for everyone, goodness knows, but if it is, you’ll be a repeat customer.
Bring a treat for Al, if he decides to be at home that night.