Above image by Joseph Anthony Thomas
The task of developing a list of the top 101 clubs of all time proved to be daunting. It isn’t necessarily a list of Steve Lewis’ favorite clubs. Some changed the way business was done or introduced a new form of music or had fabulous club personalities involved. Some of these places lasted for years and had good and bad incarnations. Some, like Beatrice Inn, were short-lived but dominated the night.
Clubs that are currently operating had a hard time ranking high as the jury is still out. Places like 1OAK and Marquee will surely end up higher when they finally close, assuming that ever happens. House of Yes and Paul’s Baby Grand are better clubs than many of those ranked above them but they are fairly new. (Note: After hours clubs are not eligible.)
Maybe this is the first list and “we” will revisit after some feedback. Time will tell.
1) Studio 54
The Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson of nightlife, with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Mick and Bianca, Truman Capote etc. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager mixed in the best of everyone and went on to invent boutique hotels. Undisputed best club ever.
Downtown culture taken to the limits. Changing themes recreated the club every 6 weeks or so. Eric Goode and his brother Christopher, Shawn Hausman and Darius Azari created a space that transcended the word “nightclub”. It was more like a performance space and/or art gallery with the celebrities and fashionable people acting as the materials used to complete that evening’s vision. The bathroom scene was hedonistic. The crowd was beyond excellent, a who’s-who of downtown as well as up. Nothing has come close to it since. If you met someone fabulous during the day you could say “I’ll see you tonight” without having to mention where.
3) The World
Introduced both house and hip-hop to the downtown crowd. A glorious dilapidated old ballroom attracted the slumming tuxedo crowd and the hip street kids. Its stages offered live performances by Bowie, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Sinead, etc. They broke through the walls and less than legally annexed the tenement next door and called it “It”. They served vodka in coffee cups and got away with it. The World had music industry cred with resident DJs Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Black Market’s David Piccioni.
4) Max’s Kansas City
An art crowd consisting of Warhol, Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers mixed with Rene Ricard, Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs, Philip Johnson and the uptown slumming set. Music from scenesters The Velvet Underground, Bowie, Marc Bolan, the New York Dolls and Patti Smith. Springstein performed with Bob Marley as the opening act. Deborah Harry was a waitress. After that era came the Ramones, Sid Vicious and that lot. The food wasn’t bad. And it kept much of downtown’s rock scene alive.
5) Paradise Garage :
DJ Larry Levan is a deity. He passed on in 1992, but not before he took dance culture to another level. He is still worshipped today with yearly reunions and tributes. The Garage was his house for a decade. Everything that came after owes something to the Paradise Garage.
6) Mudd Club
Steve Mass kept his patrons on their toes with ever changing installations and cutting edge music. Keith Haring curated the art shows. It was the hipper downtown alternative to Studio 54. Richard Boch, Hattie Hathaway and many others manned a tough door that decided if you were in or you were out. Being in was life-changing.
I like the Rudolf, John Argento, Ruth Polsky incarnation. Danceteria introduced Madonna to the world. She was in good company with Sade, Billy Idol, New Order, The B-52’s, The Smiths, Run DMC, LL Cool J. and countless others. The crowd was dressed up and had fun. Easily could be considered the best of the best depending on your choice of hair.
Nell Campbell, the wonderful, unpredictable host created an intimate alternative to the mega clubs of the time. Small and exclusive it was known for its music and for supposedly turning away Cher. It was a family affair and those still with us meet once a year to celebrate.
With over 100,000 square feet to play in, Palladium was Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager’s new toy after they cashed in their get out of jail free card. It was 5000 diverse people dancing under art by Haring, Basquiat and Francesco Clemente. It was Studio meets the East Village.
Home to the incredible Tuesday night Jackie 60 party. Hasidic men caressing the ankles of drag queens while the hippest sipped strong drinks, feeling validated for their lifestyle choices. Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti and all their unusual suspects gave us what we wanted and needed. Meatpacking District when the streets ran with blood.
Peter Gatien’s church of the misbegotten was out of control in an era when that was considered a good thing. It all ended quite badly but not before changing all the rules. Often forgotten in all the Michael Alig hoopla is the incredible musical programming.
Limelight image by Brooks Osman for Scotto.tv
Another Gatien masterpiece that ended awful. Tunnel at times had 7 DJs on 7 dance floors. Thousands got in and thousands were turned away. The bar and DJ in the bathroom made it the sexiest place in town.
For a long time Life was the last great club. Life’s Hip Hop Room was super hot with DJ Mark Ronson coming into his own. I saw Puffy and Jay-Z get up to give a newly arriving Stevie Wonder their table. It was Titanic-era Leo and there were live shows from Siouxsie and Isaac Hayes and Grace Jones. Pretty crowd, always mixed, always fun.
14) The Saint
Bruce Mailman’s gay mecca in the East Village, The Saint was built on the bones of the old Filmore East. A projector like the one at the Hayden Planetarium enlightened the high domed ceiling. State of the art lights and sound drove the place into a frenzy even as it swam upstream against the increasingly devastating AIDS crisis.
15) Beatrice Inn
In its short life Beatrice attracted the young and the restless, the rich and beautiful. It made money while being incurably hip. If it had lasted it would have been much higher on this list. It doesn’t matter, as co-owner Paul Sevigny never looks for or encourages accolades. Toughest door in town made it delicious inside. His current spot, Paul’s Baby Grand, picked up the torch.
Marquee has ruled its scene for over 10 years. It now has incarnations overseas and in Vegas, where it was a game changer. Sells bottles like crazy, but more importantly it sells fun. It changed the way the worldwide club business operates. TAO/Strategic Group is now the pinnacle, especially to all its dwindling competitors.
17) Webster Hall
To deny Webster Hall a top spot in this list would be a blasphemy. Incredible music programming and the best room in town make this place undeniable. It is a club for the masses but if you look with the right kind of eyes you will be surprised. Bowie used to pop by from time to time to see a show. It’s been around for over a hundred years. It will be there when everyone on this list is gone.
18) Sound Factory
Sound Factory was primarily a late night venue and therefore borderline eligible for this list. I found myself there at 2pm more than a few times and once or twice much later…earlier? Everyone came for Junior Vasquez, who became the undisputed heavyweight DJ of the world after Larry Levan’s passing. When you walked in you asked “what kind of mood is he in?” You hoped they answered, “pissed off.” Back then he was pissed off very often and always better when.
Image by Joseph Anthony Thomas
19) Don Hill’s
The place was named for him, he booked the entertainment, hired the staff, he answered the phones, greeted the guests and I suspect at the end of the night he swept out the joint. His incredible heart and ability to connect with the right people and right talent made this place one of the top rock clubs ever.
Michael Ault made the partying of the jet set seem like an art form. He now rules in places like Singapore, a regular jet set stop.
21) The Box
Still strong after so many years, The Box took shock and awe cabaret to a new level. I miss my pal Raven O, the master of ceremonies and master of anyone who ever looked at him. The Box sold tables to swells while a mixed crowd mixed it up. Like the great clubs of yore, The Box brought all genders, people of different economic condition and all that. Truly evidence that it still can be done.
22) Bungalow 8
Another place that was almost after hours and possibly not eligible for consideration. Amy Sacco, Amy Sacco, Amy Sacco, say it loud and it’s music playing, say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Always the incredible host for those who go bump in the night.
23) The Roxy
It really only had one great night but it was really great. Mark Berkeley and John Blair catered to the “Chelsea Boys” bringing Pride to the Roxy’s giant dance floor for years. Plus on weekdays, there was rollerskating. Gene Dinino operated. Prior to 1985 an earlier incarnation of Roxy was operated by the late, great Steven Greenberg (230 Fifth Avenue) at the same address. It was very hipster in a Buffalo Gals sort of way. Ruza Blue, John Baker (Gee Street Records) and the coolest of the cool mixed, while forward thinking DJs spun hip-hop and early electronic dance music. It was a Malcolm McClaren, Run DMC. Madonna, Kurtis Blow kind of place.
24) Boom Boom Room (Top of the Standard Hotel)
You can’t call it Boom Boom Room, as a place in San Francisco has prior right, but everyone still does. The most wonderful views and that’s before you look out the windows or stand on the beautiful roof. The best designed place in town. For the gorgeous.
After 10 years and the sudden death of “the nicest person in nightlife,” Rob Fernandez, owner Eddie Dean closed the mega-club. Pacha defined house culture in NYC. It fought off all competitors and terrible police harassment, but ended as most of the dance parties migrated to Brooklyn. Eddie is opening something new soon, in Brooklyn. He has lots of other events up his sleeve.
Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, Sasha & Digweed and a host of international DJ talent played on Steve Dash’s incredible Phazon sound system.
Rudolf and Yuki Wattanabe offered up DJ Mark Kamins, Duke of Denmark and a slew of other musical geniuses to an unforgiving crowd. It was formed at the beginning of the Meatpacking redux and attracted the downtown centric fashion set and post Danceteria alumni.
A gay club that lasted forever and a day (22 years). The best Go-Go Boys in town taking showers and such fueled its Chelsea sexiness.
29) The Loft
It can be argued that David Mancuso’s underground and private parties gave birth to all that followed from the Paradise Garage to the Brooklyn scene of today. It can be argued it wasn’t really a club. It can be argued it should be number 1 on this list.
The house that DJ/owner Nicolas Matar built has over a dozen years under its belt and shows no sign of losing its grip on the NYC club scene. A room built to enhance its incredible sound system attracts top DJ’s who play to a purist crowd. It gave birth to Output, which anchors the Brooklyn music and nightlife renaissance.
The Studio 54 of NYC’s Latino nightlife culture, Copa has moved around but basically remains the same. Of course its early incarnation (from 1940) attracted a suit and tie, wiseguy wanna-be set, as seen in Goodfellas. The Supremes debuted here in ’65. For the downtown crowd it will always be known for nightlife goddess Susanne Bartsch’s monthly soirees.
When Life club ended half the team went to Spa the other half to Lotus. Here Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano, Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss grew into club moguls. A tough door by legends Kenny Kenny and King created a mix of the beautiful and famous with the hipsters of its day.
See above. Mark Baker and Jeffrey Jah with all around great-guy partners David Rabin and Will Regan (who had a good run with Rex) launched the Meatpacking District as we know it. It was models and bottles and those who pay for that.
Area’s Eric Goode opened this supper club with the help of Serge Becker (La Esquina) and Andre Balazs (Standard Hotels, Chateau Marmont). It had a dance floor downstairs with a warning bell to alert DJs and patrons of a raid by authorities. (There was a time when Cabaret laws were enforced.) An adult crowd celebrating their successful lives was kept in check by a pair of stuffed Dobermans.
Eric Foss’s dive club probably employed a cleaning crew, but they were grossly overpaid. No one cared, as good liquor in a relatively clean glass with edgy music attracted an edgy crowd for over a decade and a half. Openings at the legit Fuse Art Gallery in the back ensured the smart set would always return.
36) House of Yes
Maybe it’s too soon to say yes to this Bushwick playpen, but I find it to be the nearest thing to clubs of my Wonder Bread years. Great music, inspiring visuals and performance artists give it a modern Brooklyn edge. It’s very friendly.
Doorman King’s no-nonsense approach to Spy’s door made this super lounge. You were either cool or a fool and fools were never tolerated. Its comfortable couches and table hopping set made it for a moment the only game in town.
Maurice Brahms of Infinity, Underground fame opened this Hell’s Kitchen spot when it really was hellish. Somehow the smart set migrated to it. The upstairs was celebrities dining and dancing while downstairs world class house DJs like Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Dee-Lite’s Dmitry played to packed houses. Grace Jones on New Years Eve was one of the single best club nights I have ever experienced.
Richie Akiva with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra took the model/bottle formula and made it great. Mixed format DJs, notably Jus Ske, entertained this upper Meatpacking venue. Still open, it may rise on this list in time.
40) Paul’s Baby Grand
For a long time I and others walked around with T-Shirts begging to ‘Free The Beatrice’ – a reference to #15 on this list. Paul Sevigny has another hit on his hands, but in his true style, doesn’t want to bring attention to it. Shhhh!
The least of Peter Gatien’s spots, but still pretty hot. A Blade Runner décor by Eric Goode with some help from Michael Alig brought the local Times Square feel inside. Still, after all is said, the magic, the crowds, the impromptu performance by Prince, the Gaultier chairs or the Mugler Room, the thing that is remembered most was the slide that took you from the mezzanine to the dance floor or first base to third in a few seconds.
42) The Building
An old Con Ed Power station punctuated by a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright chairs, the Building had musical chops but a very low legal capacity, due to exits found only in the front. It couldn’t stand the heat it was attracting but it is remembered fondly for it’s music and mixed crowd. It had a great operating team of Eric Goode (Area, MK, B Bar, Maritime) Howard Schaffer (The Standard Hotel), as wekk as Patrick Moxey and Chuck Crook, who had been throwing Payday parties when they were asked to join in. Designer/operator Carlos Almada celebrated the Building’s industrial roots.
43) Club 57
John Sex, Ann Magnuson, Keith Haring, Joey Arias, Johnny Dynell, Afrika Bambaata are just a few of the downtown dignitaries that graced this St Mark’s bohemian paradise. It was performance art, sex and drugs. The Tuesday Monster Movie night was a scream.
Rudolf in a pre-Danceteria incarnation that lasted only one night. It was by all accounts a perfect night that nobody has anything bad to say about it.
The Grateful Dead of nightlife. Seen as great because it was around forever and had some memorable moments. Its contribution to the birth of Punk is well documented. It offered bands like The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie a place to grow, but mostly it was bands from Ohio with mullets and beat up vans. It was more of a venue than a club.
46) The Palace de Beaute
A post- “The Underground” hipster hang where the Petco is now in Union Square. It was celebrities galore hanging with the hip crowd. Tuesday Night was Larry Tee’s Love Machine with host Ru Paul. “Can you say Love,” the future superstar would ask. Favorite memory: Timothy Leary hosting Grace Jones’ birthday…pr was it the other way around?
47) Bowery Bar (B-Bar)
The restaurant morphed into a club of sorts at night with portable DJ booths and table hopping. Tuesdays ran forever with glorious hosts Eric Conrad and Edwige Belmore.
48) Sound Factory Bar
Not just a little spin off of the big place, SFB had its own cred. I remember hugging Vogueing legend Willie Ninja as he manned the door before going in to groove to Frankie Knuckle’s offerings.
The jury is still out on this upper Meatpacking spot. It has had great moments and steady success; the crowd is always beautiful and there are always famous faces. Its comfortable size allows it to run pure, rarely compromising its door, usually manned by actor, bon vivant Wass Stevens. The staff is brilliant and music always fun. Like so many currently open clubs it will probably climb up this list in time.
50) Rose Bar
With a zillion dollars of pop art hung around the place, the Rose Bar needed a player worthy of it all. Ian Schrager tapped Nur Khan, who curated beautiful nights for beautiful people. Acts like Guns ‘N’ Roses played the small room.
A video rock club. It is said that just before he died Sid Vicious assaulted Patti Smith’s brother and was arrested. This club was so hot that prior to Studio 54’s opening Steve and Ian offered Hurrah honcho, the great Arthur Weinstein, a piece to join them. He declined and said, “ then they buried me”.
Maurice Brahms helped write the book on how large clubs operated. Known for its unique neon lights and mixed gay/straight crowd, Infinity was so incredibly hot that no one was surprised when it was destroyed by a fire.
Declared that Williamsburg/Greenpoint was the new place to party, and no one could argue. A large club from Cielo DJ/owner Nicolas Matar, Output rolls on and like other current clubs may, in time, climb up this list.
54) Pyramid Club
A rare Cabaret License in the East Village spawned this amazing cabaret. John Sex and hundreds of others performed their hearts out for an adoring crowd.
A club built with a musical agenda and a 60’s pop art theme, attracted a mixed bag.
56) Au Bar
For the uptown crowd a place to see and be seen before slumming downtown. I didn’t like it but cannot deny it.
Probably the smallest place on this list, it actually did feel like a party at someone’s apartment. A very hot spot with a loyal following, APT helped evolve Meatpacking from the meat to the meet.
58) Wetlands Preserve
A dozen years of nightlife meets environmental activism. Known for endless jams from acts that now could sell out Madison Square Garden.
The class on that strip of clubs on 27th Street in OUCH (Outer Chelsea). Operators Jamie Mulholland and Jayma Cardoso kept it pumping with beauty and black card magic until the neighborhood was pulled out from under them.
Another Nur Khan hit, this long running lounge might be best known for its Morrissey Night, which began in 2003 and lasted until the place closed at the end of 2015.
61) China Club
No club list could discount the China Club. The thing most clubbies remember is the Monday night party from Frankie Scinlaro. The Yankees’ drank cocktails with movie stars while a decidedly adult crowd danced in suits and cocktail dresses. Early on rock superstars like Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Elton John played.
A super exclusive VIP with all the usual suspects. For me it was all about Samantha Ronson. It closed suddenly, but for a few years it was a must stop.
63) Bonds International Casino
Located in Times Square, it was a dinner club in the 1930s. In 1940 it became Bonds Men’s Wear. In 1980 it was a club again with the same name. In 1981,the Clash played 17 legendary shows and everyone went.
Made famous by Lady Gaga and her sort of good/bad romance with manager Luc Carl. The place had musical chops and a hip rock crowd and lasted long after the love died.
65) Milk Bar
The legendary Arthur Weinstein with a little bit of help from his friend Scotty Taylor and his wife Colleen Weinstein created this next level lounge. Anything went and everybody had to go.
66) W.i.P./ Greenhouse
It was short lived but ambitious enough, as Work in Progress makes the list and takes Greenhouse with it. An extreme art club W.i.P. was a legitimization of the brilliant illegal Bowery art club Collective Hardware, for a minute the best place in town. Greenhouse had its moments, but clubs that feature Hip Hop are often the subject of police harassment. The final straw was the melee involving Drake and Chris Brown.
67) Peppermint Lounge
There were multiple incarnations of the Peppermint Lounge, including the one the Beatles played. “They” say Go-Go dancing started here. After it closed in 1977 it had a run as G.G.s Barnum Room, before being reincarnated in 1980 with acts like The Cramps, The Bangles and Joan Jett. It then relocated to lower 5th Avenue. It was always edgy, sleazy and felt kind of dangerous in the best sort of way.
68) Pink Elephant
Pink Elephant started small on 8th Avenue just below 14th Street, with a fun Euro/model/well-heeled crowd. Rocco Ancarola tossed enough napkins into the air to fell a small forest. Pink moved to that West 27th Street club strip and thrived and then survived even as the police harassed all others out of business. It landed with a thud on West 8th Street. My favorite name for a club ever.
69) Cat Club
Tommy Gunn and the Cat Club Dancers entertained the chic rock set in the late 80’s early 90’s. Lots of great bands played to a crowd with big hair. Dress code: Black and easy to remove.
Although actually 2 different clubs in the same space, there was some overlap. Shelter featured N.A.S.A., the rave-like Friday nights, attracting the youngest crowd I have ever seen. Legendary DJ D.B. ruled. Saturdays were the domain of Shelter DJ Timmy Regisford. Spinoff parties still exist today.
Gabby Meija ruled this deep underground club in the basement of Andre Balazs’ Mercer Hotel. It was great DJ’s, an adult crowd and a strict door policy from major players Richard Alvarez and Moises Santana. You always felt you were at home.
Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter’s cooler than cool Outer Chelsea spot. It was too close to the edge to survive, but left an impression. Now they have Provocateur and the new and truly great Flash Factory.
It has gone through many changes from the Jamie Mulholland, Jayma Cardoso days, but it seems, after 10 years, to be finding new life. Jonny “The Lover” Lennon has a lot to do with that, as does new owner Shaun Rose.
Since 1982 Larry Gold has offered up World Music and everything that means. Tito Puente, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Astrud Gilberto are just a few of the names that have graced its state.
75) The Underground
Another Maurice Brahms entry, The Underground had its share of celebrities and fabulousness but will always be remembered for Baird Jones inviting a million-plus free guests.
76) Hiro Ballroom
A gorgeous room for the gorgeous people, shown best when Eric Conrad was hosting.
It wasn’t much to look at and the West 23rd Street location wasn’t wonderful, but it had something intangible that kept them coming back. To the numerous celebrities that came over and over again it was a place where they could be themselves and not their image. It was an adult crowd that loved life and each other. When you walked in the room you felt you belonged, a lot of that due to proprietor Eyton Sugarman and pal Seth Harris.
It makes the list because it was a club dedicated to the new music, fashion, lifestyle scene that was streaming back and forth between Manhattan and the new art haven of Williamsburg, Plaid was surely ahead of its time. A performance by Ol’ Dirty Bastard sanctioned by last minute talks with his parole officer rocked the house.
It had its moments, especially when Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti were hosting, but it never lived up to its size. Later incarnations of the room like Mezmor and Mansion didn’t do well either. The room was immense, used originally to blow up the floats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Maybe all the energy just floated up to the high ceilings.
Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter made Provacateur a guest list only club, creating a layer of exclusivity that shocked the system. Evenings were curated in advance and decisions made at a higher pay grade. They also booked stadium level EDM DJs into their smallish room. They made their own rules and have had continued success. Like so many other active clubs their final spot on this list is TBD.
Mondays were the best night. The place literally was a cafeteria during the day and stainless serving stations were pushed to the side. It was rock music, some of it older than me.
82) Home Sweet Home
Lives up to its name with a super friendly crowd and comfortable décor. Just messy enough to wipe away any pretentiousness. Been there for a minute yet still thrives even though its clientele has mostly moved to Brooklyn. Go when Jonathan Toubin is spinning.
Noel Ashman’s great club/lounge had a celebrity at every table and hordes clamoring to see them. A shout out to Tim Spuches (Hotel Chantelle) who kept it all smooth.
84) Happy Valley
The Susanne Bartsch nights were always wonderful. The night Dita Von Teese performed in a giant cocktail glass was shock and awesome. Jeremy Scott designed the room, offering up a DJ booth that looked like a disco ball.
85) Pizza A- Go-Go
I love everything offered by Vito Bruno, from his sexy after hours club AM/PM to his creation of freestyle sensation Noel, who was swept off his feet while bussing tables at Palladium. Only Vito could take a pizza place and make it an “in” spot. I saw the Beastie Boys there before they could shave.
86) Better Days
Better Days offered up even better nights to a fully devoted dance crowd. Its run from 1972 until 1990 featured resident Bruce Forrest and a who’s who of house legends including Frankie Knuckles, Francois K, Kenny Carpenter, Tony Humphries, Robert Clivilles and many more. Probably should be higher up on this list. It was important.
87) The Jane Ballroom
Players Matt Kliegman and Carlos Quirate need to be mentioned and it might as well be for The Jane. Their run at the Jane Ballroom has been over the top wonderful.
88) Lot 61
Amy Sacco in a less intimate space than her stellar Bungalow 8. It was cocktail culture to the 9th with 60 plus different Martinis sipped under serious art. I liked to sit under a Damien Hirst and watch Amy work the room.
This lower Eastside venue/club, which opened in 2002, still packs them in. It’s hipster heaven. One of the few places that draws the Brooklyn crowd to Manhattan.
90) The Bowery Electric
Somehow an old school, East Village rock club was recreated on the sacred intersection of East 2nd Street and the Bowery, officially dedicated by NYC as Joey Ramone place. This is hallowed rock ground. Bands, black leather and hairdo’s and hairdon’t’s, bring you back to a pre-gentrified EV. Kudos to rockstars Jesse Malin and Johnny T. who just get it.
It can be argued that modern bottle service started here or at Life. Chaos was the place for the well healed to connect, as well as models and those who chase them or are chased by them.
Owner John Bakhshi dominated the B crowds on West 28th Street, when it was a strip mall of nightlife. Solid mash up music programming at Home and Euro-centric House in Guesthouse brought out all the bottle buyers. There wasn’t a dry table in the house. It had its fair share of the rich and famous as well. These 2 clubs along with Bed and Spirit were carved out of the same building that once housed Sound Factory, Twilo, John has found great success lately at Beautique.
It lived in a couple of locations, but altogether Esquilita, the legendary Latin LGBTQ club, lasted just short of 50 years. That’s 1,000 in human years. When Lady Bunny did her one woman shows there, That Aint No Lady and “Clowns Syndrome,” the place hosted a more diverse crowd. Esquilita couldn’t survive the “clean up” of West 39th Street.
94) The Ritz
Jerry Brandt’s amazing concert hall also featured dancing and huge video screens. The Ritz had the distinction of occupying the spaces of two top 20 clubs . It originally was where Webster Hall is, and then moved to the West 54th Street space where Studio 54 had been. Always a showman, Jerry operated the prehistoric Electric Circus on St. Marks in the 70’s.
95) The Village Gate
From1958 until 1994 Art D’Lugoff offered up Jazz and cool original shows. Dizzy Gillespie,Wynton Marsalis, Dexter Gordon and the like performed. A benefit for Timothy Leary had Jimi Hendrix and Allen Ginsberg perform. A National Lampoon production of Lemmings offered John Belushi, Christopher Guest and Chevy Chase. It also hosted the club Peace with the brilliant Lesly Bernard hosting.
96) The Fun House
A mega-club with legendary superstar Dj John”Jellybean” Benitez. 2000 people could be on hand to listen to sets that lasted as long as 12 hours or even 14 hours. Jellybean was on top of the world playing Freestyle music to massive crowds while engaged to Madonna.
97) Coney Island High
The entire crowd looked like they worked at Trash and Vaudeville and many probably did. It was super sleazy and easy. I had to keep repeating to myself rule #1… “never, ever go home with a girl whose hair can hurt you.” Well rules were made to be broken, especially at Coney Island High.
Vito Bruno’s Free Style palace also hosted great concerts. It got hairy at times. In fact the local precinct had a pool going regarding what time the first call of the night would come from the place. I always had fun. Dj Roman Ricardo always delivered.
99) Madam Rosas
Sometimes when a place is off the beaten path it can be a good thing. People like to explore the undiscovered country. Madam Rosas behind the American Thread Building attracted a very sharp set of celebrities and downtown fashion, art types. Jean-Michel Basquiat Dj’d there. It was another jewel-box type club, small, perfect in contrast to the giant joints that were dominating the scene.
100) Crazy Nanny’s
A crazy, friendly Lesbian Bar on lower 7th Avenue. I was only there once, invited in by a familiar face at the door while I was walking my Chihuahua, Arturo. Arturo got up on the bar and said hello to everyone much to the patrons and my delight. Arturo was usually a nasty dog but the positive energy of the place put him at ease. Me too.
101) Carmelitas Reception House
Few noticed what looked like a small wedding hall or bordello on the second floor of the Southwest corner of 14th and 3rd, above Disco Donut. It hosted Lesbian nights and the amazing Stacy Fine’s amazing Lite Lounge.
Honorable Mention: Plant Bar, Passerby, Darkroom, Morriseys, Tatou, Bentley’s, Lucky Cheng’s, Tenjune, Boy Bar, Wax, Fredricks, Tramps, Peggy Sue’s, Canal Room/Shine, Shout, Whitenoise, Surf Club, Studio B, Time Café, Club Zanzibar (Newark), Snitch, Ice Palace, Beauty Bar, Xenon, Club Edelweiss, PM, Verboten
Dishonorable Mention: Expo