Nightlife guide: Lower East Side
Where to party on the LES.
Wed Jan 12 2011
Here's a first: A contemporary art gallery moonlights as a bar. That's the concept behind this sleek two-story space, where you can admire the latest exhibit on the brick walls as you sip your vodka tonic. Upstairs, an old-school photo booth sits near the DJ, but head to the low-ceilinged level below for a livelier atmosphere—if it isn't occupied by a private party. Art fanatics and big spenders will get a thrill from the Picasso, a mix of Grand Marnier, Patrn Platinum, lime juice and a touch of OJ ($25). 120 Orchard St at Delancey St (212-529-2266, gallerybarnyc.com)
This underground party spot covers all the same bases the neighboring bars do, with rock-certified (that is, rarely cleaned) unisex bathrooms, leather banquettes and a line of late-night revelers. A steady schedule of first-rate DJs, affordable drinks and a cavelike atmosphere bathed in dim, red lighting, however, set this one apart. 165 Ludlow St at Stanton St (212-353-0536)
While it's been on downtown partiers' radar for more than eight years now, this bi-level bar-club hybrid deserves props as a music lover's paradise as well as a serious happy hour destination (beers are $3 from 2 to 8pm daily). Brave the crowds to check out the roster of DJs set up in the upstairs lounge, or check out a live show down below. 158 Ludlow St at Stanton St (212-505-3733, pianosnyc.com)
Comedians, emo kids, and rockers all find common ground at UC Lounge, where a tricked-out bar, two levels and a stage for bands allow it to keep up with its contemporaries. Black leather benches, brick walls and concrete floors set the laid-back vibe for Wednesday-night comedy show (9pm; free), Friday night goth party (10pm; $10, before 11pm free) and live music Thursday through Saturday (7pm; free). 87 Ludlow St and Delancey St (212-995-1171, ucloungenyc.com)
Not satisfied to merely meet the usual LES club standards, the creators of Soiree (formerly called BLVD) went ahead and built a mini nightlife kingdom. The party behemoth (18,000 square feet, to be exact) includes a recording studio, a live-music spot called Crash Mansion. Not on the guest list? Be prepared to pay big money or wait in an epic line for the flashy, 10,000 watt--lit nightclub. 199 Bowery at Spring St (212-982-7767, soireenightclub.com). Soire Fri, Sat 10pm; $20--$25, on guest list before midnight free; firstname.lastname@example.org.