Shrine is a cartwheeling, head standing joint way up in Harlem whose hours invite late, late night carousing. It’s anarchic, chaotic. The ceiling is tiled with album covers.
I saw a New Orleans band during the Honk NYC fest blast out their lean, anorexic sound of trumpets, trombones, tuba, and other weirdness, while I armed the far end of the bar beside a huge white man wearing white face, red lips and an LED encrusted tail coat. Go figure. People actually have conversations here that cannot be overheard because of the intense loudness of everything. It’s their new age security system.
Reports are that the food is great, but when I’ve been there it’s either not time for me, or the whole scene is just too frenetic to eat.
In 2015 I went to hear a poet—I’ve forgotten her name—read her calming work from a purple stage during one of Shrine’s eclectic programming jaunts; a few friends and I, and tables of other curious people. That’s what they do: they step into the unknown to bring in the most interesting, diverse stuff they can find. Well known, well reviewed, it’s a late night hot-spot, a must-see way to experience NYC’s late nightlife and Harlem, sort of like the old days.
Shrine is at 134th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue); there’s a 2/3 train stop a block away at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard (6th Avenue).