108 N 6th St, Williamsburg
Maybe the trend of filling your brand new bar with ragged taxidermy, hilarious trash trinkets and otherwise ironic historic décor has passed. New Williamsburg venue Hugs (think Savalas with more room) relies on just the tried-and-true appeal of long happy hours, good music, late-night dance parties (M.I.A. apparently showed up for their New Year’s blowout) and bar games that don’t make too much noise or stress anyone out.
Past its Jazzercisey neon pink sign, Hugs is softly lit, tubular and windowless, with a low, rounded ceiling that makes it seem like you’re inside a giant hollow log or belowdecks on an intimate party ship for fashion-forward adults. Seats are distributed generously down either side of the bar, with plenty of open space in the middle, and all offer a fine view of the small stage at the back that Hugs uses for DJ sets, live music, comedy and, early in the evening, old movies and retro television shows.
Guitar Hero, Skeeball, Big Buck Hunter and a photo machine take up a discreet room near the breezy open mouth of the bar (a good spot for smoking, cooling down and appreciating attractive strangers), and offer diversion without much general distraction. The calm Hugs Happy Hour lasts until 8pm, during which $2 gets you a tap Yuengling, or you can get $2 off all well drinks and $1 off all draughts (24 of those). Bring your own snacks, bring your large or small group of friends. There’s ample room at the long bar for singles and couples, and the black-leather, candlelit booth-style pens opposite the bar can easily fit a dozen.
The fact that it avoided copying recent and played-out bar trends doesn’t mean Hugs didn’t follow the Make It Look Beaten and Old rule. A bunch of slouchy armchairs near the stage are mismatched (one’s laminated with gross, old-lady plastic), and the ceiling is covered in what looks like cracked white papier-mâché. Admittedly, though, it works. It’s cozy and comfortable enough that it’d be easy to show up at seven, when it’s a relaxed after-work spot, and stay until two, when it’s a raging Technicolor dance party almost every night of the week. Well, maybe. More likely you’d leave sometime in between to get dinner.
No idea why it’s called Hugs. My guess is it’s a cheesy 80s throwback thing, what with the Dirty Dancing-style heart-encircled hot-pink logo and the MySpace pictures featuring painfully cool people in stone-washed jeans, gold chains and clashing neon t-shirts. Actually yes, I think that’s a pretty good guess.