The Joli Rouge — a popular hangout for punks, artists, musicians, anarchists, the goth crowd and many others — has closed its doors for the last time.
Many a punk show, drag show, fashion show and even fetish freak show was held within that cavernous black-and-red, two-story bar on College Street in downtown Asheville, which opened in 2005. Goths, rocking knee-high boots and lace, would swap clothes there. Pinball players would get sucked into alternate pinball universes until they ran out of quarters. Fire-spinners would mesmerize people in the courtyard as they artfully twirled their blazing poi. On slow afternoons, regulars would sit at the bar, sipping gin-and-tonics and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes while entertaining one another with jokes.
On the busy nights, if there was a popular band in town or a benefit concert, the crowds swarmed in and consumed quantities of whiskey and PBR. They came in rowdy and chattering droves, wearing boots and suspenders, taped-together glasses, wildly colored hair, dredlocks, tattoos, velvet, sleek black shirts and tight-fitting pants. (Once, I saw a girl there cuddling a pet fox.) Another time, at an art opening, a smiling host went around presenting a tray full of fancy crackers and an open container of cat food.
A pirate flag hung above the downstairs bar. And alas, the joint encountered some rough waters, and the bar served its final shot of whiskey this past weekend.
— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor