DRINK CLUB: Niagara Bar
112 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
Tel# (212) 420-9517
7 days a week: 4PM to 4 AM
Happy Hour: 4 PM to 8 PM daily
New York City has some of the most historical locations in the entire country. At least the most notable. You can walk into any restaurant or bar and they’ll tell you all the stories about celebrities, politicians, and other such folk who frequent their establishment. In keeping with the historically important vein, take a trip to the East Village, and you’ll find a bar that has tried, and is now succeeding, in regaining the old artist and musician culture that used to permeate every brick in the area below 14th Street. Niagara Bar has a history, as a rockstar hangout for the likes of Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer (yeah, it’s that bar with Joe’s giant portrait on the side of the building). It is a hub for meeting other artists, located in a central spot on 7th and Ave A. Since the passing of the golden age of rockstars, places like the East Village have struggled to retain their allure, and though slowly, Niagara is one of the bars that is again giving artists the place to reconnect with the lost culture of the Village.
The layout of the bar is simple, there is an upstairs and a downstairs. Upstairs has a long bar, manned usually by one or two bartenders, some simple seating, and a back room area with a photo booth. The downstairs has just been remodeled so there is another large bar and seating (but more often lots of dancing). On the surface, it’s just your average bar. What is above average are the things that go on behind the scenes. Niagara is one of the homes of the Antagonist Art Movement (which is a whole other article altogether), who put on weekly art and music shows. And they’ve been doing this for years. The music shows began as part of the Thursday art shows, but have since broken off and created its own night, Mondays. One Sunday a month there is also a writer’s night, and at any time there is some crazy group of artists hanging around the bar, just shooting the shit.
The newest artistic addition to the bar is its permanent wall art, courtesy of Yoshitomo Nara. Completely drunk one night, he was given a sharpie and told to draw on the walls, which he did, before continuing into the subway system and subsequently was arrested for defacing public property. Niagara has become a name in the East Village for allowing artists freedom to express themselves, without asking for much in return: just bring folks into the bar and you can show your stuff.