No offense to Mark Russell, but nobody seems to miss political satire in the Art Deco elegance of the Shoreham's Marquee Lounge. Renovated and reopened in April, the room has featured Sammy Kaye, Benny Goodman and a host of other swing bands harking back to an earlier Depression. This weekend, the Ed Winiker Orchestra confirms their slogan -- "It's good to be alive" -- with the sounds of Ellington, Goodman and Basie. During band breaks, disc jockeys take requests.
The designer was obviously in the mood: There are lush green chairs, potted palms, mirrors framing the bandstand, mahogany stand-up drink rails, marble-topped tables with frosted lamps, diffused lighting rimming the original late '40s cove-moulded ceiling, and more lights outlining the steps up to a balcony level. The service staff wear green tuxedos, easily mistaken for bellhop uniforms.
There's neither cover nor minimum, but a long line on weekends, straining the 200- person capacity. To cut the rug, you'll need to cut the mustard: jackets are required and bluejeans don't make it ("not even designer jeans.")
Bottled beer arrives in a wine goblet at $3 a shot, although it seems more appropriate to order a highball. The kitchen serves cheeses, pate, cold sandwiches and other nouveau noshes until 2 a.m. on weekends. A tuna-salad sandwich with crudit,es will run you $5.
Manager Mary Keegan says the Marquee Lounge is not a pickup spot, except maybe for wholesome middle-aged singles. True. If you're between the ages of 25 and 35 and willing to try a foxtrot or Lindy Hop, there are more than enough conventioneers to go around.
Locals have discovered the room's fascinatin' rhythms as well. Renelle Rae of Arlington, veteran of half-a-dozen visits, has been practicing the foxtrot with Forest Duncan of Falls Church. She's sampled other ballroom dance spots and thinks the Marquee Lounge is the all-around best for its roomy dance floor, music and mix of dancers. Serious students of swing, the twosome tests their turns Monday through Wednesday, vaguely imitating the older generation to "Satin Doll" without even counting aloud.
MARQUE LOUNGE -- Ed Winiker Orchestra, nightly except Sunday, at the Shoreham Hotel.