Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chateau Rouge (Chapeau Rouge)

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."
-Mark Twain
A friend's band was playing at Chateau l'Enfer Rouge** (Red Hell Castle) on a Friday night.

It's not a usual hangout, but I headed over with a few guys to catch the show.


This bar-disco-music club been around since 1994 and used to be called Chapeau Rouge**. They had to change the name because of copyright issues.

These days, most people just call it Chateau or Chateau Rouge**.

Chateau** is a dark, ragged, red-cloaked bar that is not too far from Old Town Square. It has an international, yet seedy vibe that you won't find in too many other places around the city. The website actually says it was modeled after an Irish pub.

Inside, I found the usual mix of tourists, expats, and Czechs. It was packed later in the evening.The layout is very poor, and it was hard to get from one side of the two-room bar to the other without going outside and coming in the second entrance.

In 2003, Chateau expanded and created a dance club and bar in the basement.

That basement bar area almost always seems to be filled with American students.

But you'll find a few Czechs down there, too.

Next to the bar, there is a drab space with a peeling red paint job.

The floor is painted red and even that is peeling.

It has a sad little lighting system. It reminded me a bit of the basement of a college fraternity.

Perhaps because of the aesthetic deficiencies, the club invested in a heavy-duty fog machine.

It's not quite as foggy as it looks in the picture. The flash doesn't penetrate it too well.

Even so, the less you see, the better.

But wait, there's more. In the sub-basement, two levels down, there is a small space for live music called Chateau Underground.

I paid 100 CZK, got a stamp on my hand, and headed downstairs.

The sub-basement was recently reconstructed, and they did a good job with it. I saw bands there before the makeover.

Back then, it was hell-hole with bare concrete, exposed pipes, and a fine patina of filth.

Those were the days.

In the here and now, the first band I saw was The Tower of Dudes. They deployed an accordion, a mandolin/banjo, drums, bass, and a guitar.

I got there early and watched them do their sound check.I included this picture because the lights were up and it gives you a sense of what the room is like.

So, who are these dudes? This is from the band's Myspace bio:
The Tower of Dudes is one of the finest drunk bands you will ever see live. This mix of country, punk, pivo and germ warfare is guaranteed to make you dance and sing (or curse and boo) until this most glorious band of half-crazed misfits explodes. (Do people even read these bios?)
Apparently we do, Dudes.

Their lead singer is Johnny Feelings. Here's a short burst of their style.

It's not clear in the video, but the accordion playing dude is actually a dudette.

The headliners were The Careless Guys, a British-American-Canadian-Czech rock outfit. Led by a gentleman named Steve Cautious, the band's drummer and bass player have both worked as war correspondents.

In other words, you wouldn't call them cautious.

The guitarist in the big black wig is known as Noah Lowance. But without his wig, Noah is really Johnny Feelings. In case you care.

Here's a sample of The Careless Guys.

A few girls were dancing there at the end, and it was good fun.

I forgot to mention some other important information about the live music club. There is a very small bar in a separate room, and if memory serves, a half-liter of Staropramen in a plastic cup is 25 CZK. I think the price was higher upstairs, but you get a glass.

It takes just about three or four people to fill that cramped bar area. The passage leading to it is also very narrow. Later in the evening, it was almost impossible to get into it.

There was also a serious build-up of cigarette smoke -- Too many smokers and not enough ventilation. At a certain point, I couldn't take it anymore and had to move up to the top floor bar.

There, I was accosted by an Englishman with a pathological need to tell total strangers fantastically obvious falsehoods about his life.

Obviously, it was time to go.

The live music was over, the Europop was chirping, the bar was packed too tight, and people were getting weird.

As I searched for an exit, Chateau l'Enfer Rouge felt less like Twain's version of hell and more like Jean-Paul Sartre's.

"L'enfer, c'est les autres," he wrote. "Hell is other people."

Chateau L'Enfer Rouge
Jakubská 2
Prague 1
Tel. (+420) 222 316 328

**I received this e-mail from the club management in Sept. 2008:
We would like to inform you about renaming of our club to Chapeau Rouge (the former names were Chateau Rouge or L´enfer rouge). Chapeau Rouge is returning to its original name from 1919.


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1 comment:

The Lone Beader said...

The Careless Guys sound good! :D