The Palace of Wonders, one of the first hot spots to set up shop during the recent resurgence of Washington's Atlas District, is celebrating its fourth anniversary with a special show this Friday.
If you go Palace of Wonders Femme Fatale Four Year Anniversary Show Where: Palace of Wonders, 1210 H St. NE When: 6 p.m. doors, 10 p.m. show Friday Info: $10; 202-398-7469; palaceofwonders.com
That's four years of burlesque dancers, fire eaters and other performance artists, not to mention the other oddities that line the walls of one of D.C.'s most eclectic bars. "It has a pretty wide appeal," said Ricardo Vergara, manager of the Palace of Wonders. "Most people don't know what to expect when they walk through the door. A lot of people are pleasantly surprised."
Vergara is part owner of the neighboring Red and the Black and the H Street Country Club. The owners of those venues are in the process of acquiring the Palace.
"I was a fan of this bar before I became an owner of the Red and the Black," Vergara said. "It's one of the best bars in the city. I think it has a lot of character, it has a lot of interesting items."
Those items include a museum of oddities such as two-head goats and a collection of skulls.
Entertainment at the Palace of Wonders can generally be labeled performance art.
"Quality, intrigue," burlesque performer L'il Dutch said when asked what makes a good Palace of Wonders show. "That's what people expect when they come to the Palace. They want to be shocked, but not confused."
L'il Dutch has performed at the Palace since its inception and books and produces shows, including Friday's "Femme Fatale Four Year Anniversary Show." Scheduled performers include Moira Lee, Belladona, Malibu, Strange Powers, Mab Just Mab and Reverend Valentine, as well as L'il Dutch.
Mab recalled how difficult it was to find a place to perform her sideshow antics before the Palace opened.
"Even the worst garage band can get a spot," Mab said.
Palace of Wonders opened four years ago on a stretch of road that now hosts some of the most popular bars and venues in D.C. Future plans call for a merger with the Red and the Black, creating a bigger stage for larger shows.
"It's a fun performance space," Vergara said. "We do a lot of sort of unusual entertainment. It's still the only bar of its kind in D.C. It has a real strong following."
The Palace of Wonders' combination of performance art and oddities is unique in a world where that word can be overused.
"It's cool to see someone discover it for the first time," L'il Dutch said. "It reminds you how unique it really is."