Ghetto Fabulous: Harlem, New York
Looking for a place in New York that’s a bit off the beaten path, where drinks don’t cost $20, there’s no cover charge and no reason to get dressed up?
A recent missadventure took us to Harlem, America’s infamous personification of urban decay. When a friend heard we were going, he sent the following text message, “Mihae, 134th Street is right near the ghetto, that’s right near the hospital, wait for me to pick you up.” That just made us want to go more.
Many New Yorkers may still see this area as a no-go, but the truth is, I found it to have more culture and charm than much of the city. Harlem musicians have been rockin the soul, reggae, jazz, gospel and afro-cuban music scene for years. We went to a club call Shrine World Music for reggae night (2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (133-134 st) New York, NY 10030 • 212-690-7807)
Shrine is a small bar and restaurant showcasing some of the hottest new bands in Harlem. The venue is small but has a comfortable atmosphere. There are a few tables, but most of the crowd is dancing and mingling.
The bar menu consists of drinks called Afro Trip, Muslim Jew and Roofo Roofo. Shots are $7 each, but if you buy more than 5, they only cost $5. There is no cover charge before 11 p.m.
As the Bob Marley tribute band rocked the house, the entire bar broke out into song, dance, smiles, hugs and high-fives all around. With a mostly local crowd, our party of four were minorities to say the least, but no one seemed to notice and we felt very welcome. The venue offers live music nightly including jazz, Brazilian and soul. For more inforamtion, visit www.shrinenyc.com.
If you are seeking a dive bar that does not take you all the way up to Harlem, check out Cafe Wha in the Village. It offers great live music from the 80s and buckets of cold beer, www.cafewha.com.