We’re always look to the past for something. Whether it be a tarnished history or reverence of the ‘Golden Age,’ we get off to knowing there are those who rocked hard before us. To cure any case of hyper-nostalgia, a good reckoning must be had on era nightlife worth your time in New York City. The following is a list of decade bars/clubs that might help you survive this one. Because if there’s anything NYU Local loves, it’s a good ole’ time warp.
1920s: Bathtub Gin
We no longer live in the age of Prohibition, but let’s party under the sinful illusion we do. In Chelsea, Bathtub Gin masquerades as a 1920s speakeasy with conviction. Hidden behind a coffee storefront, the lounge bar is created for you to booze and peruse. There are beautiful people and bourgeoisie drinks all under the helm of what parties wished they were like before the 21st Amendment. Think chandelier print walls, Burlesque-style attire and one huge, bronze bathtub in the middle of the floor.
Drinks aren’t cheap and you should go around 10 pm to get in. Once inside, however, the Bathtub Gin is unlikely to disappoint. It’s known for killer cocktails and needing a reservation on the weekends. Nevertheless, feel sexy and socialize. This speakeasy is designed for dimly lit souls and Al Capone swag.
Location: 132 9th Avenue Phone: (646) 559-1671
1930s—1940s: Cotton Club
Cole Porter. Duke Ellington. Cab Calloway. Household names from the Swing era, long-deceased, but rightfully immortalized at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Every Monday night, swing dancers and a 13-piece jazz band delight in the elegant parties of the past—and you’re invited.
Both amateur and professional swing dancers are welcome to grace the floor of this two-story restaurant meets 1932 nightclub homage. Doors open at 8 pm for dinner (à la carte) and music that last long past midnight. There is no dress code, but why not indulge in the likings of pinstripe pants and amapola dresses?
The price is steep at $25 a plate. Save the Cotton Club for a special occasion and indulge in a true night of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Location: 656 West 125th Street Phone: (212) 663-7980
1960s—1970s: Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home is no stranger to the NYU populace. On an average night, you’ll likely see that kid-you-know-who-sits-two-rows-in-front-of-you. Buy him/her a drink ($3 beers) and indulge in the 60s/70s/jumbled mixture of any era vibe. It’s small, underground, and quintessential ‘Hipsters like to get fucked up and dance’ kind of place. Weird Wednesdays are enjoyable with afropunk skaters and lots of flannel. Saturdays are insanely crowded, though the preferred night.
Order a jack and coke.
Location: 131 Chrystie St. Phone: (212) 226-5708
1980s: Pyramid Club
It’s getting progressively harder to find authentic 80s clubs in the city. You’ll get a Morrissey song here and there, but it’s usually eclipsed by an awkward bassline. On Thursdays, the Pyramid Club can be a Depechian oasis. In the heart of the Lower East side, this bar specializes in Psychedelic Fur-New Order classics. The basement is usually for 90s music and Gay 80s Fridays are popular as well.
Side note: The place is sometimes reminiscent of a bad sixth grade dance. Nothing a ridiculous level of insobriety can’t solve. Pay $6 to walk around John Hughes’ womb for a bit.
Location: 101 Ave. A between 6th and 7th St Phone: 212-228-4888
1990s: bOb Bar
If you can overlook the fact you’re listening to Garbage in an absurdly small space, bOb Bar is one of the best 90s clubs around. Bass drop to Biggie and wear those flats. There’s little pretension in a place that venerates a time when The Cranberries and Boyz II Men could coexist.
It wouldn’t be a 90s bar without an edgy art collection. You’ll appreciate the featured artists and hip-hop, grunge vibe. bOb Bar also has some of the best R&B and reggae selection around. Sport one of those crop tops (it’s unreasonably hot inside) and join the ranks of Pharaohe Monk enthusiasts alike.
Unfortunately, there’s a $5 cover.
Location: 235 Eldridge St. Phone: (212) 529-1807