77 Bleecker St, 212-253-2560 Cheapest drink: $6 bottle beer Most expensive drink: The money spent on the cover charge. Overheard: “Bottoms are so difficult.”
Coming from a long line of drinkers, I make a clear distinction between “an establishment made for drinking” and “place to mingle, dance, and scream conversation at people.” What makes a bar a real bar rests heavily on three factors: bottled beer cannot exceed $5, there must actually be seats at the bar, and deafening music and uninhibited dancing is not the draw.
That being said, let’s talk about Mr. Black, where loud dance music and uninhibited dancing is the draw — and a Stella sets you back $6 plus a $1 tip. Nope, no seating at the bar either. Sorry to highlight the flaws upfront, but these are obstacles that made relaxing and getting drunk difficult. However, if you’re the socialite type with some money to burn and a propensity for shakin’ what your mama gave you, Mr. Black provides a cozy haven for you — and a predominantly gay crowd — to get down and dirty.
Situated on Broadway, away from the worn path of partygoers trekking along streets just east and west, you’ll enter (what used to be Table 50) to an underground brick-lined den with vaulting arches that give way to dark pockets of banquette seating. On this particular Friday night, there was a beach-party theme. Tanned and buff for the affair, bartenders were in skimpy swimwear (complete with swim headgear — hilarious), provocative go-go dancers exposed their stuff, and blow-up beach balls were everywhere (definitely fun to throw at people in hopes of new conversation, or annoyed stares). There was also a drag queen show that involved a white dove and some sorry excuses for magic tricks. Sorry, lady, but that shit was boring.
Most notably, the pretension factor was non-existent — everyone I met was really friendly. I even did a little dancing of my own, as a member of the Scissor Sisters provided a thoroughly danceable mix of tunes (expect the same caliber of themes and DJs throughout the week) — these days, if you can get my slacker ass up and moving in public, you’ve done something. Though I appreciated the chance to shake it a bit, no matter how you break it down, Mr. Black isn’t a bar in the tear-in-your-beer, Bukowski sense of the word. Consider yourself warned.
[Also beware: the cover charge is $5 Mon-Thu and $10 Fri-Sat, and free on Sundays.]