Bars and nightspots are a dime a dozen and often so much alike that it's hard to tell them apart. Yet, some do seem to find a gimmick to attract attention. The new Rumors H Street, almost eight blocks away from the madding crowd at the original Rumors, appears to be making its mark that way.
Possibly the most preposterous reason for going to a watering hole is Guest Bartender Night. But some of the acts can be surprising, as the new addition to the Rumors family showed the other night. One was a clean-cut fellow wearing a red apron inscribed "Sex, Drugs & Michael Anderson" and carrying a canister of the sort used for bug poison. In the other hand was a tall stack of plastic cups into which he sprayedmelonball shooters. He periodically stopped to say, "No, it's never been used for anything but shooters!" And the relieved patron could lean back and guzzle his free beverage.
The evening wore on, the bug can had been emptied and patrons were three-deep and chipper at the bar. "Cheeks," another guest bartender, seized the moment and, for reasons that remain unclear, climbed to the top of the bar to dance. Not that unusual, but somewhat unsafe even if the ceiling fans were moving slowly.
The disc jockey, who also operates as a video cameraman between tunes, flicked on the bright lights and began filming the crowd. The advertising opportunity was too tempting for "Cheeks" to pass up. Bending to her task, she displayed her name and phone number in a way that would put the phone book on the banned list. Then the camera lights were off and it was back to the music, mostly '60s Motown, Beach Boys and rock'n'roll but some new wave, too.
Just another night at the new Rumors.
Another vehicle in the race to pick up customers is the Rumors Auto Trolley System, or RATS, a one-jitney operation that shuttles patrons between the new place at 1716 H Street and the older one at 1900 M Street NW.
Rumors H Street, formerly the Greenery and within three blocks of the White House, runs to white stucco outside and white stucco and inlaid blond wood inside. More green plants than in all of Iceland line the walls, windows and tables. There is no doubt that when the mission of watering all plants is completed, it's time to start over. The bottom floor of the three-story nightspot houses a hard-to-find raw bar featuring oyster stew, steamers, backfin crabmeat, cherrystone clams, shrimp and mussels along with draft beer. The two upstairs floors serve as bar and restaurant, with a menu of burgers, soups, salads, sandwiches and nightly dinner specials. The crowd is generally late 20s through 30s but gets younger on the weekends as university students stop by.
"It's not a trendy kind of place, not too crowded, and a good place to get all your friends together," says Rumors regular Mary Wallack. "It's also not a pickup place."
There is no cover to hear the five-piece band, Crazy Fingers, on Thursday nights or for the lunchtime piano performances by Bill Harris, Monday through Friday. RUMORS H STREET -- 1716 H Street NW. Open to 1:30 weeknights, 2:30 on Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday. No cover. 342-6433.