Whether you know the original Ian Hunter version, or the cover version performed by the Presidents of the United States of America as an intro to the Drew Carey Show, the song “Cleveland Rocks’ pretty much sums it up for C-town.
Cleveland became known as the city in which rock n’ roll was invented when DJ Alan Freed termed the phrase to describe the new music he was playing in the 1950’s and is also the reason why Cleveland became the obvious place for the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
However, when you visit Cleveland, you get the feeling that Cleveland rocked a long time before Alan Freed showed up and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame was merely a spark on the horizon. Was it a coincidence that Cleveland was the first city to play rock n roll, or did it give birth to it? You decide. Here are some of the ways Cleveland nightlife is rocking today.
1. Touch Night Club
Throw your hands in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care. Touch is the place where the locals go to drink up and party down. At Touch disco ain’t dead, hip hop is hip, Afrobeat is the beat to beat, and electronic is electric. Also the proving ground for any DJ worth his salt; if you can make it with the Touch crowd, you’re in the house. Dress code is tight minis and exposed midriffs for the ladies, baggy jeans and sneakers for the guys, and jackets and ties for the supper crowd, and if you’re still around for Sunday Brunch, the chef recommends the Fruity Pebble Pancakes.
If Touch is a little too happy and shiny for you, get down and dirty with Liquid. This is the club your mother warned you about. Don’t expect the posh crowd here, Liquid is all about the OSG. When it comes to fashion, think ripped jeans, baseballs caps, gold chains, and a lot of tattooed flesh. Shirts off for guys, and a lot of pretty dazed expressions on the faces. And when it comes to the actual liquids here, it’s all about bottle service so don’t be surprised to find a lot of people guzzling fist to mouth from 16 oz bottles of Jack, or bubbly. It seems the locals find it a lot more convenient than trying to get bar service.
3. The Foundry
While we’re on the subject of getting down and dirty, The Foundry might well be described as Liquid turned Metal. You’ll find just as many tattoos, ripped jeans, hard drinking, and heavy music, but the hair is longer, the music is definitely not electronic, and the drugs may be of a slightly different variety. Metal lives at the Foundry, which is really good news for those who are not quite ready to sell their Marshall amps, but we’re not talking glam here. This is death metal, where the bass thumps, drums crash, guitars scream, and blood flows, so if you’re expecting to relive your days of “Cherry Pie,” and Whitesnake, you may want to take your acid washed butt elsewhere.
4. The Punch Bowl Social
Now, let’s say you’ve just exited from the Foundry, and find yourself a little bit hungry and in the mood for some bowling. No problem! The Punchbowl Social is just down the block. It’s not unusual to find patrons of the Punch Bowl trading in their combat boots and stilettos for bowling shoes; this is a place where the freaks and geeks come together to play a little foosball, shoot some pool, or try their skills at Ms. Pacman. Come after clubbing or make a night out of it, and be sure to try some of their unique twists on chicken and waffles, or some adults-only milkshakes.
Say you’re stuck in the eighties and proud of it. Let’s say the Ms. Pacman that you played at the Punch Bowl left you hankering for more. Have no fear, you can satisfy all your retro arcade cravings at 16-Bit. Sure, Ms. Pacman is in the house at 16-Bit, but so is her hubby, but that’s just the beginning. You’ll be hearing a lot of,”No ways,” as you steer Centipede around blockades, get to new heights with Mario Bros, and capture the banana with Donkey Kong. If that’s wetting your whistle, there’s over 40 classics on the floor, including AC/DC and Kiss Pinballs machines for those about to rock. In fact, probably the only things adult about this place is the drinks, and they’re also in keeping with the theme. With “old school cocktails” named for David Hasselhoff and Kevin Bacon, and “new wave cocktails” named for Cyndi Lauper and Pam Anderson, don’t be surprised if you go home humming a Wham! Tune.
6. Happy Dog
Canine references in the name notwithstanding, The Happy Dog is probably the best place for hair of the dog in Cleveland. After spending so many nights on the scene, you might need to recover from more than alcohol. If so, The Happy Dog is just the place to do it. What’s so refreshing about the Happy Dog? First of all it’s got a cool vintage look and feel that mixes the cool with the casual, and secondly, it’s got a live music policy that does the same. Bands that play at the Happy Dog don’t have to worry about paying to play or not getting paid for playing. At the Happy Dog, the policy is always the same. The band takes home the money made at the door, fair and square. Plus, it holds a classical jam night every week and has one of the best karaoke selections in Ohio, so go howl at the moon with all the rest of the would-be rock stars at the Happy Dog.
Updated: April 4, 2018