A Fight Club-themed bar called Durden opened last night in Nightingale Lounge’s former space on 13th and Second Ave (right near the forthcoming Westside Market), but don’t stop by expecting any soap outside of the bathroom or jeans stolen from a laundromat on display. The bar is movie paraphernalia-free, and the Master of Mayhem himself only appears once, as part of a mural that owner Eddie Sherman commissioned Masterpiece NYC to paint along the room’s right-hand wall.
“The bar is an homage to the movie, but we didn’t want to be kitsch about it, or too in-your-face,” said Sherman.
Durden’s aesthetic seems a little too clean for us to believe that the Tyler we know and love might actually hang out/start a fight club in the basement there. It has high white ceilings, exposed brick walls, lit candles, booths of red leather, and three TVs playing Fox Sports News that hang over the lacquered wood bar. But Sherman had a specific, politically-charged theme in mind when he named the bar after Tyler Durden.
“This all started with the idea of Ben Bernanke dropping dollars from a helicopter. To benefit the rich, mostly,” he said. “Then there’s Tyler, the anti-hero, on the other end. And Lady Justice is there passing judgment, and she’s leaning in favor of Tyler.”
Sherman was influenced in his concept for the bar by Zero Hedge, an anti-corporation and anti-“bankster” blog whose main contributor writes under the pseudonym Tyler Durden. Catuscia Fanciullo, the bar’s interior designer and Sherman’s girlfriend, drew further influence from Italian leftist political party Cinque Stelle, which helped oust Burlusconi and has worked with OWS.
The centerpiece wall mural pulls together all the disparate elements in this epic battle of ideals between Durden and Bernanke, with a blindfolded and barely-dressed Lady Justice serving as moderator. Durden, depicted from behind and wearing a shirt of red-and-white stars, is surrounded by blurry porn stills and points to a projector, while Bernanke smirks, his floating head surrounded by money and images of the Financial Times.
Sherman has yet to release a finalized cocktail menu, but all drinks will be Fight Club-themed, with names like the Raymond K. Hessel, Jack’s Raging Liver (instead of bile duct, of course), and the Changeover.
The wood-framed entrance currently has no signage, but Sherman plans to post up “Durden” in neon ransom-note script lettering, in order to “imply chaos.” He also hopes to add a food menu once the bar is more established, as well as outdoor patio seating. The spot is open for regular business as of today, and a daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. will feature $5 well drinks, $5 drafts, and a $5 shot and Modelo combo.
Sherman chose to place Durden in the East Village because he’s lived there for 22 years, and owned a bar in the area called Looking Glass in the mid-’90s. “This is my hood as much as it is anybody’s,” he said. He lives down the block from Durden, on 12th Street, and has a profound love for the neighborhood, if not for the current state of its nightlife.
“I do not want to be associated with Finnerty’s and Professor Thom’s,” he said, of the two bro institutions he shares the block with. On the night of Durden’s soft opening, both bars had a line of sports enthusiasts out the door, waiting to get in and watch the World Series. Sherman was unfazed.
“We’re just playing the blues and doing our own thing,” he told us.
Durden, 213 Second Ave., at 13th St., East Village; 212-473-1155