Marlinspikes, rigging and staysails are not typical topics of conversation at your average Philly rock and roll bar. But you just might hear these nautical terms thrown around at Fishtown's El Bar: Owner Robin Schimpf (pictured) has volunteered on the Gazela, a late-1800s Portuguese barkentine fishing ship owned by the Ship Preservation Guild for the past decade.
Docked at Penn's Landing, the vessel used to take cod fishermen to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, but now accommodates volunteer enthusiasts ages 14 to 80 on summer sailing trips. It also serves as a floating classroom for students at Girard College. The old-timey vessel's crew members include surgeons and mathematicians, whom you'll stand a good chance of meeting at the El, which otherwise caters to the punk- and hard-rock-lovin' crowd.
Schimpf uses her venue to host crew meetings, and last spring, she even invited some sailing types to her blue-collar spot for a Gazela fundraiser. It was an unusual place for a seafaring night outevents of its ilk are usually relegated to ballrooms. But despite the mixed crowd, the tall shippers and the rockers found common ground. A Ramones tribute band provided the entertainment. "I wanted to teach some of the punk [musicians] sea chanteys," says Schimpf. "The lyrics are similarly angry."
As it turns out, riggers and rockers can coexist, a fact that's conveyed through a thank-you letter from the Preservation Guild that Schimpf put on display. (The event raised $400.) But this being Fishtown, the note's attached to the wall with duct tape.