This 'Star Wars'-Inspired Cantina Is One of the Coolest Bars in the Country
If there was one thing Hollywood needed, it was a safe haven for geeks to make merry, J.C. Reifenberg, a filmmaker and self-avowed Star Wars obsessive, recently told Thrillist. Now it's got one in the Scum & Villainy Cantina, thanks to him and his business partners, who recently struck a deal to make the pop-up establishment a permanent fixture.
"What my girlfriend calls it is a 'sci-fi safehouse,'" Reifenberg said. "You can come here and be yourself."
Scum & Villainy's a window-less watering hole, hidden away on Hollywood Boulevard and decked out to look like the iconic Mos Eisley Cantina from the first Star Wars film, four decades after the first film's release. It's got cosplay. It's got a droid detector. Its menu is filled with Star Wars puns and in-jokes to other aspects of geek culture. First launched in 2016, Reifenberg and his team ran it as a pop-up establishment for parties before finally announcing they would transform it into a year-round destination on the Boulevard.
For Reifenberg, it's a dream come true, and it's not limited to Star Wars fans, either. Walk into the bar on any given night that it's open, and you're likely to bump into Alf from Alf or Captain Kirk from Star Trek as you are Darth Vader. The fans, of course, get super into it, dressing to the nines in Jedi gear, Princess Leia's slave costume, and -- of course -- the easiest costume of all: Han Solo's shirt and vest.
"I actually love it when Trekkies come in. They play along better than anybody," Reifenberg said. "They walk around with their data pads out and they scan all the customers, like 'Wow, we must be caught in a Borg time parallax.'"
Depending on the bar's offerings, attendance, and the entertainment of the night, guests can enjoy Yoda-themed games, trivia, intense lightsaber duels, or "who shot first"-style face-offs. All in good fun, of course.
To hear Reifenberg tell it, no nerd bar is too high. He's so committed to crafting an immersive experience within the space -- one that is now fixed, free to attend, and doesn't just evanesce in a pop-up setting -- that he's putting his money where his mouth is: "I'm going to pay for my bartenders go and see Thor: Ragnarok, and Justice League, and The Last Jedi, because if you walk in at 6pm on a Thursday, and you're the only one in this bar, I expect my bartenders to engage you by saying 'Hey, what did you think of the new Spider-Man: Homecoming?'"
To Reifenberg, the interactions that result from the melting pot of fandoms are particularly special. "I've done all the Star Wars conventions, I've done all the Comic-Cons," he said. "For me it's really fun to watch Alf sit next to Malcolm Reynolds sit next to Star Lord next to Darth Vader and have a conversation about the fact that Karate Kid is coming to YouTube Red. It's bringing that community and getting to see how clever people can be."
There aren't many other bars in this galaxy that can lay claim to those same conversations. Maybe one existed though, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.