New Year’s Eve was the day the music died for venues Hank’s Saloon in Boerum Hill, Continental Bar in the East Village, Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village and nightclubs Cielo in the meatpacking district and Output in Williamsburg.
Between them, almost every genre of sound was represented including punk, hardcore, country, jazz, classical, house, techno and lots of spoken word. Though Continental Bar hasn’t hosted live music in years, I still felt it there from when I hung out starting in the ’90s (the stage was taken out in 2006). Though it got tough reviews when it switched to focusing on shot specials, I’ll always remember it as the free-for all punk clubhouse that hosted Murphy’s Law Halloween for years.
Hank’s Saloon kept up that tradition in Brooklyn as it became one of the few hard-rock stages in the borough following the closures of Grand Victory, AcheronDon Pedro’s, and Bar Matchless. They also shuttered last Saturday ahead of the building’s demolition, but thankfully for music fans owner Julie Ipcar plans to re-open this month above Hill Country’s new food court nearby, with bigger capacity and new sound system.
Though it is a literary as well as musical landmark, words can almost not describe the loss of Cornelia Street Cafe after 40 years in the Village. When I spent time with owner Robin Hirsch for the Cafe’s 40th Anniversary last year, he summed up the words spoken there as “the Greenwich Village coffeehouse conversation” in a place he described as “America’s bohemia.” Hirsch’s friend and legendary jazz composer David Amram played the venue’s final New Year’s Eve concert ahead of its closure the next day. When Amram, along with his band, raised his glass at midnight he said, “This is not a farewell but a celebration of Cornelia Street Cafe In Exile’s birthday and to the next 41 years of its life.” He then struck up a song starting with that line and the spirit in his 88-year-old voice soothed the audience members as they measured what they would lose the next day without the cafe.
Cielo and Output both went out with bangs as the house and techno beats kept their uber-hip crowds dancing well into New Year’s Day. Cielo was launched 15 years ago by DJ Nicolas Matar, who then followed up with Output in 2012. It became NYC’s “absolute best” nightclub. I was able to photograph the staffs of both and after talking with them, many of whom had worked for the full tenures of the clubs, I discovered that they genuinely loved their jobs and how the work families formed there were their biggest losses next the venues themselves.
Taken in the context of the rest of the night’s major parties– including JunXion’s New Dawn at Brooklyn Bazaar and Bang On!’s Time & Space at Knockdown Center– these portraits show the loss of these venues in real time as the rest of the parties raged on around them. My 72-hour New Year’s journey can possibly be summed up from my 3am drive from Cornelia’s emotional concert in the Village to two house parties in South Brooklyn. Going from a room full of tearful seniors citizens in the classic New York bohemia to the beer-soaked youth in a culturally expanding outer-borough that’s not focused on the past gave me pause. As much as I wanted to blast my memories towards the new “cool” kids, I held back, hoping that these old acquaintances would come towards these young minds naturally, just as they did mine.
6pm at The Lot Radio pop-up, Times Square
DJ Eli Escobar (left) with staff during the final sets of its Times Square residency:
8:30pm at Output, Williamsburg
VIP door manager Rene Harriman (top, third from left) with his fellow staff before opening up for the venue’s final night:
First attendees on line to see John Digweed’s NYE show on Output’s final night:
9pm at Continental Bar, East Village
Patrons having their final shots before NYE:
9pm at Coco 66, Greenpoint
Bartenders Jodi and Nicky (first and second from right) as they served pre-gamers:
9:30pm in Greenpoint
Brooklyn Wildlife’s Chris Carr with Gamba Forests’s Melissa Hunter Gurney (middle row, third and fourth from right) during their New Years Eve showcase:
9:30pm at Cielo, Meatpacking District
Manager David Mitchell with his staff before their final Saturday shift ahead of their NYE closure:
10pm at Easy Lover, Williamsburg
Co-owner Aaron Koen (center) with his DJs as he started up his NYE karaoke party:
10:45pm at Con Artist Collective, Lower East Side
Artist Wizard Skull (bottom right) with his fellow partiers:
3am in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Chris and Melissa Detres’ lingerie and pajama slumber party at their home:
4am at Hank’s Saloon, Boerum Hill
Owner Julie Ipcar (lower photo, center) with patrons during her bar’s final last call:
4am at Brooklyn Lodge, Kensington
Doormen Tevin and Taylor Baily beside the venue’s VIP room with organizers Alex Neuhausen and Robin French (back, second and fourth from left):
Attendees of the New Year’s Masquerade:
5am at Knockdown Center, Maspeth
Attendees of Bang On!’s Time+Space NYE pary .
6am at Brooklyn Bazaar, Greenpoint
Partiers at the conclusion of JunXion’s New Dawn NYE party:
At 6am, the Orijins crew closing out JunXion’s New Dawn NYE party:
At 6:30am, founder Myk Tummolo (right pic) alongside artist Michelle Joni (left pic) and his crew (center) as they boarded their bus:
6:45am in Bushwick
After-partiers Rhiannon Catalyst, Dave Gelles and Miller Pyke as they walked through the neighborhood:
8am in Williamsburg
(L to R) Aleks Craine, Mike Trotter and Penny Lane alongside their partiers at the conclusion of Eris Evolution’s, SOUP NYC and G House NYC’s Metropolis Ball in Williamsburg:
12pm at Cornelia Street Cafe, West Village
Owner Robin Hirsch (center) with jazz legend David Amram’s band and family toasting the eve of the restaurant’s closing day:
12:30pm at The Lot Radio, Greenpoint
Soul Clap’s Eli Goldstein and The Lot Radio’s Tara Wight (l and r) as they reopened the station’s Greenpoint home after its Times Square residency:
3:30pm at House of Yes, East Williamsburg
DJ Penny Lane (top pic, second left) finishing her second New Year’s set in Bubble and Bass’s Onyx Room alongside partiers including Emily Plaskett’s pooch Meatball (right pic, center).
The conclusion of Bubble and Bass’s Seize the Day 2019 party at House of Yes: