From the mid to late 1980s, I went to the old Rat in Kenmore Square many times. It was a great place for me for a few reasons:
- it was close–I lived in the West Fenway
- it had good music (on the punk end of rock mostly)
- it was cheap–Friday night was usually $8 for three or four bands
The old Kenmore Square was a great place for a college student for similar reasons:
- it was pretty close to NU and close to BU
- it had cheap food, cheap records, cheap other stuff (Army-Navy)
- it had a great variety of music–there were 4 or 5 clubs in Kenmore itself and at least another 5 within a few blocks
Now it’s a sterile, boring upscale place. But it’s going to have the Rat again:
Early next month, the spirit of the grungy basement bar will be revived at the luxury hotel when the Commonwealth unveils a suite in its honor. Memorabilia from the club will fill every nook and cranny of the 600-square-foot room: the mirror that hung in the Rat’s dressing room, covered with band stickers; the duct-taped keyboard that belonged to club mainstay Willie “Loco” Alexander; drumsticks signed by Marky Ramone; a Cars guitar pick. And, of course, a papier-mâché rat.
With a $40,000-plusdecorating budget and a rate that will set guests back$500 to $900 a night, the opulent suite will be a far cry from its gritty namesake.
There’s a famous quote by Marx: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. I don’t think the first run of the Rat counts as a tragedy, but this certainly counts as farce.