The neighborhood surrounding Beale Street might be quiet, with the trolley that runs along Main Street creating the only significant sound. But when you arrive at the southern doorstep of downtown Memphis, the quiet gives way to the raucous neon-and-brick music clubs that line Beale Street.
Beale Street is not just a spectacle for the eyes, it's also an experience for the taste buds. Pots of gumbo and red beans and rice simmer at every corner. However, the smells and tastes of Beale Street are just side dishes: The main course is the music.
Blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll claim the perfectly imperfect city of Memphis as their birthplace. And all three get people dancing on Beale Street every night. Beale Street has long been a feast for the senses. In the early 20th century, it was one of the busiest markets in the South, with European immigrants selling goods of all kinds to a largely African-American clientele.
In the 1980s, Beale Street was redeveloped into an open-air, pedestrian-only center for music, nightlife, and more music. And it's caught on -- now the old marketplace hosts musicians, dancers, and sellers every night of the week. As the neon on the Rum Boogie Cafe advises: "Eat. Drink. Boogie. Repeat."