The Chicken Slacks play The Cantab Lounge in Central Square on Thursday – the first time since March 2020. (Photo: Alex Rubin)

A Covid-19 exposure has closed The Cantab Lounge until 5 p.m. Dec. 30, the newly reopened bar said Wednesday. That brings it back in time for a Chicken Slacks performance and next-day New Year’s Eve party with the band Summer of George – but means skipping this week’s Thursday residency with the Slacks’ classic soul/funk sound.

The Cantab announced its reopening last week over three nights, welcoming back old friends, new acquaintances and a typically boisterous live music atmosphere. Thursday marked what felt like the true arrival of the rejuvenated Cantab, drawing in thirsty passersby with a rip-roaring performance from Chicken Slacks for the first time since early 2020.

The long-standing and nearly decommissioned local dive was packed Thursday as if no one had missed a beat since the pandemic began – or perhaps as though they had, in fact, been missing the beat.

Like the bar’s once- or twice-delayed reopening, the Chicken Slacks had a few false starts on the new sound system, but their sound was irresistible once the groove got going. Jubilant patrons relished the return of their old haunt, dancing and cheering along with the music. Many took pictures to commemorate the occasion, and the new owner and renovator, Tim Dibble, was seen greeting bar patrons joyously.

The interior of the renovated Cantab appears much as it always has, with a few understated upgrades invigorating the divey aesthetic.

A happy crowd welcomes back the Chicken Slacks and The Cantab Lounge on Thursday. (Photo: Alex Rubin)

Future musical offerings at the ’Tab include bluegrass bands and jamming on Tuesdays; a new “Beyond Bluegrass” event every Monday; and a multitude of acts downstairs at Club Bohemia.

Other small live music venues in Cambridge have opted to remain closed so far during the pandemic, though Toad owner Charles Christopher said Tuesday that he hoped the small Porter Square club could reopen in January. Managers at Atwood’s Tavern in East Cambridge said it might bring back live music in early spring.

There were no details offered about the Covid exposure at the Cantab on Wednesday. Publicist Joe Viglione said the bar expected to follow pending city rules starting Jan. 15 and ask customers for proof of vaccination before they’re allowed in.

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