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Friday, January 01, 1982

The Java Jive - Tacoma (Nalley Valley) - 1982

For the most part, the Java Jive has retained it's glorious divey greatness from the mid-50s and 60s, when Bob Radonich purchased the Coffee Pot Restaurant and turned it into a bar and jungle-themed restaurant.  It's still a great ramshackle, neon-spray-painted wonderland, and a fine place to catch a punk-ish band on the weekend, or just have a beer and share stories with the regulars.  But when I was first taken there in 1982, it was even more grand, with live chimpanzees "Java" and "Jive" living in the back bar, and "Maestro Bobby Floyd" manning the keyboards.


Floyd seemed to play mostly 70s television themes, mixed in with Beatles covers and local high school fight songs.  He played with a sort of rocking motion, and on this night was accompanied by the drummer "Steve and his Sexy Sticks," who would sometimes sing the guitar parts of the songs.  When Bobby took a break between sets, he dine on spaghetti with fried onion rings mixed in.

Mary, the friend who first took me there, was underage, but had been there many times before, and assured us she would have no problem getting in.  As the waitress went around our table, getting to Mary last, Mary simply told her, "You already checked mine," and the waitress walked off satisfied.

The Jive is nestled in the "Nalley Valley" industrial area of Tacoma, approx. 50 miles from Seattle.  The restaurant was built in 1927, and purchased by Bob in 1955 and converted into a music club.  It is said to have been a speakeasy at some point before that.  Before they made in big, The Wailers played there several times, and The Ventures played as basically the house band.  Harold Lloyd, Clara Bow, and Bing Crosby are all said to have hung out there during the early years.

The Jive narrowly escaped a fire in 1998, and when inspectors found a load of code violations in 2007 and the Jive was threatened with closure, neighbors and contractors volunteered to do the work necessary to keep the doors open.

It is just an epic bar.




2102 South Tacoma Way Tacoma, WA 98409 - (253) 475-9843
Est. 1955 - Building constructed: 1927
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