Jazz it up with a cup of joe at the Red Light Café.

The Red Light Cafe is a vibrant coffee shop in Atlanta that hosts music, comedy and burlesque, as well as a monthly magic show. Photo by Mayowa Amosu | The Signal

Nestled in Amsterdam Avenue’s Amsterdam Walk is the Red Light Café, a quaint yet vibrant piece of Atlanta. For 28 years, the cafe has been hosting all kinds of musical and other performing acts, bringing in people from all walks of life to enjoy the performances.

“Red Light Café has been open since around 1991; Ellen and I took over in 2012,” Michael Chamberlain, a co-owner of the cafe, said.

Chamberlain owns the cafe with his wife Ellen Chamberlain, and the two host a myriad of performances ranging from jazz concerts to an all-black comedy show.

“We’re primarily a music venue, leaning heavily towards more acoustic music like jazz or bluegrass, but, musically, I’ll book almost anything that I know will fill the house,” Michael Chamberlain said. “Outside of music, we host quite a lot of comedy and burlesque, as well as a monthly magic show.”

The cafe is known for its booking choices because they choose acts that are difficult to find anywhere else in Atlanta. Red Light Café attempts to book the most out-there entertainment they can get their hands on. Rarely do Atlanta venues have the ability to do this, which allows the Red Light Café to stand out.

“We’re a mainstay of Atlanta’s smaller venues,” Chamberlain said. “That affords us booking riskier fare business-wise, more experimental acts and more fringe entertainment, things you just won’t see anywhere else.”

This corresponds to the cafe’s attitude of acceptance and fairness. They try to accept anything that will bring in people and give most acts a shot at performing on their stage.

“To that end, I wouldn’t say we have a mission statement, per se, but perhaps a philosophy of just giving anything and everything a fair chance,” Chamberlain said.

Also, some of Georgia State’s staff members perform at the cafe. Even students participate in the performances and are avid goers to the cafe, making it a great spot for Georgia State students to enjoy one of the most unique entertainment experiences in the city.

“Gordon Vernick’s Jazz Jam every Wednesday is very GSU-centric. Gordon is a professor at GSU, the quartet frequently features GSU staff like, and many of Gordon’s students attend,” Chamberlain said.

The Red Light Café welcomes all kinds of people both to perform and attend. Many of the guests are students due to its accessibility and welcoming feeling, but people of all ages sit in for performances. Its art-covered walls and quirky, yet laid-back feel makes the venue an appealing place for everyone to enjoy jazz or burlesque shows without any worry. The venue offers an aura of togetherness, which is difficult to find in other Atlanta venues.

“I think the Red Light brings people from various walks of life together,” Kalysa Hoffman, a sophomore at Georgia State, said. “I’ve seen all types of people, enjoying and feeling the music together. It really feels like a community when you are there. Also, they are extremely LGBTQ+ friendly, which is great.”

The cafe does a good job of building a sense of community within its walls by giving Atlanta a place for people with an interest in the arts to convene and enjoy all kinds of performances.

“The cafe does Atlanta good by giving people with similar interests in live music and art a place to enjoy themselves together,” Sylvia Webb, a sophomore at Georgia State, said. “It has a sense of community and it impacts the surrounding area in making Atlanta a better place to be.”

The cafe stays true to its name by also functioning as a coffee shop during the day, providing all kinds of coffee and food, and a quaint place to have a morning cup of joe, or an afternoon snack.

“We’re now open in the daytime, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., for espresso drinks, lunch, snacks and more,” Chamberlain said.

During both day and night, the Red Light Café offers a comfortable place for anyone to enjoy a cup of coffee or listen to live jazz. After its daytime hours, the cafe reopens at 7 p.m. for its nighttime acts and opens its doors for everyone to enjoy.