Lower East Side Lock-In Spot Closes the Grate for Good

Photo: Daniel Maurer

The city’s after-hours scene keeps shrinking. In Bushwick, the spaces that housed Rocco’s (where a Kokie’s-style scene thrived in the long-unused kitchen) and Galaxie (the mod-decorated location of many a wee-hours techno party) are for rent. And now the Lower East Side has lost one of the only bars that you could go to on a weekend anymore. Last week, 87 Lounge called it quits. An insider tells us it was done in part because the owner and staff liked to drink on the job (part of what made the place so great), but also, its liquor license was due to expire at the end of the month, and the space has been for rent since May. Run-ins with the law over underage drinking, unlicensed dancing, and the unauthorized use of a storage space for patrons (per a Community Board 3 memo) didn’t make it a friend of the State Liquor Authority, which fined it $6,500 in early 2008 and then $2,000 more earlier this year. 87 Lounge was the one place we’d recommend when someone came to us with the impossible question, “Where can I have my birthday on the Lower East Side on a weekend — somewhere that’s not too crowded?” The bar often gave away well liquor for an hour or two just for the hell of it, and if there were enough nice people around, the bartender would close the front gate at 4 a.m., raise the prices $1, and let everyone hang out under the disco ball till daybreak. Siberia it was not, but it will be missed.