IMAGE: Heather Zinger
Stepping into the Candlelight Cafe Bar (2032 SW 5th Ave., 222-3378) on a Sunday night is like entering a new world filled with fortysomething swingers, pingpong and slap bass. Yeah, you heard me correctly: Even though the joint offers free live jazz and funk music every night of the week, if you get there before 8:30 pm you can duke it out in a game of table tennis with one of the regulars for a pint of Lagunitas IPA ($4) or a cheap PBR. It’s like time stopped in 1984: The whole interior—from the TVs built into cubbies in the stucco walls to the hanging raindrop light fixtures—seems designed by a decorator who just watched Purple Rain for the first time. Even the ping-pong balls are purple, which makes the prospect of returning a volley in a darkly lit bar almost impossible, but totally awesome. According to our gregarious (and graying) bartender, the Candlelight Cafe is one place that has actually benefitted from the smoking ban. Clean lungs help your groove capacity, after all. And as the funk band unloads a pair of five-string basses, we know it’s time to get down. A woman at the pingpong table drops her paddle and immediately hits the dance floor, asking for “When Doves Cry.” No surprise there.