Monday, June 24, 2013

Cafe Bizarre via

One block south of Washington Square Park and the heart of the Greenwich Village, is a local institution that has tenaciously resisted gentrification - Café Bizarre. The café was first put on the map during the tense 1960's as a center for beatniks and radicals and since then it's been a favorite hang out with the most underground, avant-garde artists, political theorists, philosophers, writers, poets, musicians, actors, playwrights, social reformers, filmmakers, technophiles, and freaks. The clientele and the staff keep the vibe going in Café Bizarre as the drugs and espressos flow as freely as the exchange of ideas and all who enter there notice at once that this place is special...special because prejudices and the constraints of society are left well outside the door.

After passing the wide assortment of colorful locals loitering out in front of the garish façade, the undaunted patron finds himself in the crowded main floor with its subdued lighting and crowded walls that are cluttered with all kinds of posters and pictures that extend over the café’s infamous history and a good assortment of random scrawlings. Artists such as Ken Kesey, Pink Floyd, David Lynch, and Corrosion of Conformity have their memorabilia strewn across the cafe as black lights glow with strips of psychedelic patterned sheets draping across the ceiling. The tightly packed entry is usually busy with patrons overflowing from the bar just off to the left enjoying their drinks and talking about their latest projects with one another while they wait in no particular hurry for a seat at one of the many booths lining the walls or a table in the midst of the crowds floating from party to party.
Scrambling in the middle of all this...the busy staff dashes from the kitchen window and the counter, keeping up with the demands of the crowd in the main room or they dash off towards the back where a narrow hall and stairs to the coveted basement seating which is designated only by a sign marked "Private". This is made available to only the most favored of patrons and harkens back to the days of the back room in Studio 54.

Here is the holy of holies to the locals as a small center room is viewed from the stairs that wind down from above while dark alcoves through archways line walls. Each alcove is furnished with futons, low tables, and large embroidered pillows strewn about the floors that are covered with hand-woven rugs in Oriental patterns while the black lights and lava lamps emit their dim glow while the patrons in this area engage in almost whatever activity seems to suit them at the time. The smell of sparked joints, hashish, incense, liquor and even sex hang thick in the air while the patrons relax, play their instruments, read their writings, engage in convoluted conversations, and the like.
Beyond the narrow hallway is a back door which leads to a small oasis that is only open during seasonable weather. A garden garden courtyard with a subdued atmosphere is a favorite spot for denizens to chill and enjoy their favorite party favour on a warm night.

Sadly, Café Bizarre disappeared from the New York scene years ago. However, in WoDG we keep the counter-culture icon alive.

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