Tropical Nights in Old Nashville

28 Aug

The other day, my wife and I were driving on White Bridge Road, and it brought to mind a nightspot that used to be in that area. Rainbow Key was everything you would want in a beach side bar, except it was a parking lot side bar in a strip mall. It had the bamboo walls and wicker chairs. There were fruity drinks and coconut shells. Simply, it was the most tropical place in Nashville, and it was a place where my friends and I liked to go.Rainbow Key

I cannot recall one specific night of memorable events, but I can string some things together.

There was always live music, but our favorite was Tall Paul, a poor man’s Jimmy Buffett.Tall Paul

Tall Paul made the college circuit, and we had been listening to him for years. In our experience, Tall Paul and Mel and the Party Hats were the greatest performers on the college circuit. Some people in the years behind me think that some guy named Super T is cool. He has nothing on Paul or Mel.

Anyway, Tall Paul always put on a good show, and it was always made better by fried shrimp chased with some kind of tropical elixir. However, music was not the only thing great about Rainbow Key. My friend Robert and I have thrown a lot of darts in that place.

One night, we were throwing a few darts and not hitting much when a couple of guys challenged us to a game. When we agreed, they promptly brought out the darts that they brought with them. We played the game. We won. They asked if we wanted to play another game for money. We said that we were going back to our table.

There are a few simple rules in the world. One is that when you beat someone who brings their own darts, then you do not play another game for money. It is like one of my former students learned in Clovis, New Mexico. Do not play pool against someone who brings their own stick and is wearing a huge knife on their belt.

It just is not done in polite quarters.

Anyway, Rainbow Key was always a great place to have a good time, but that is not all that the strip mall had to offer. A few doors down was Caesar’s, Nashville’s best Italian restaurant. Many a great meal has been consumed there. It still exists but has moved to a new location. I have not been, but it cannot be the same.

A laser tag place sat on the other side of Rainbow Key. Many times, we wandered over there and shot laser guns at each other. One night, a big group of us traveled to the little strip mall on White Bridge Road and spent some time in the laser tag room. As I eased around trying to find people to shoot, my buzzer kept going off. I could not get anything done because I kept getting shot. It turned out that one girl kept shooting me over and over. I was hoping that it was some kind of flirtation ritual. Nope, she just wanted me dead.

We had many nights of great fun in that corner of the strip mall. It was a place where we could get good food, get good drink, listen to good music and shoot up the joint.

4 Responses to “Tropical Nights in Old Nashville”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong August 28, 2014 at 23:09 #

    We used to go to a place like that — Kowloon — outside of Boston. It was on very un-tropical Route 1, but inside, it was Tahiti. They still serve fantastic Chinese (and now other Asian) cuisine) plus lots of fancy umbrella drinks. But it’s much too far away to visit from where we now live. Lots of great memories associated with it. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    • Rick August 29, 2014 at 00:15 #

      You’re welcome. I guess every city has places full of fun memories.

  2. Andrew Petcher August 29, 2014 at 04:15 #

    You have given me a memory nudge. I used to go to a pub called the White Hart in the village where I lived and Pete the landlord was always trying to come up with new ways of drawing in new customers and boosting business. One time he converted a room into a Caribbean cocktail beach bar. It did fabulously well for a few weeks but then the novelty wore off and he closed it all down!

    • Rick August 29, 2014 at 12:58 #

      That’s too bad. Surprisingly, Rainbow Key stayed open for a long time. It’s interesting how some ideas work and other don’t work.

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