By Christine Scott
Walking into the Shrine in Harlem is like walking into a combined gallery, world music club and neighborhood bar. There is always new talent to discover and a crowd of all ages, races and cultures.
Owners Abdel and Sivan Baron Ouedraogo, named the club after Fela Kuti’s club in Nigeria where in the ‘70s Fela performed, recorded and held court during Yoruba ceremonies. The Shrine showcases a collection of African art, vinyl album covers, rock memorabilia and photographs of musicians from every genre. One can easily miss this eclectic collection that fills every inch of the walls and ceiling when the place gets crowded, so it’s almost worth going during happy hour to take it all in. The live music starts at 6PM and can feature anything from an emerging jazz singer or gospel group to a spoken word artist. The live music continues until midnight when an African or reggae band has the crowd on their feet. Then the tables are removed to make way for the next phase when Shrine becomes a dance club (it’s the rare venue that keeps 4pm-4am hours!). Abdel and Sivan also own the adjacent French bistro, Yatenga, and Silvana, another world music venue on 116th Street, both of which offer the same cool vibe as the Shrine. So whether you go early or after midnight, the music, art and multi-culti scene at any of these hotspots will transport you to another world.