332 E. 11th St, 212-677-1027
Cheapest Drink: Pabst Blue Ribbon Draft, $3
Most Expensive Drink: Single Malt Oban 14, $12
Extras: Un-American Debauchery, Nightly
Rififi, the film, is a 1950s noir directed by Jules Dassin, himself blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Rififi, the club, fetishizes this sort of darkly playful and desperately cultish commodity. Weekly shows includes classic horror (think Day of the Dead and The Wickermaker); comedy shows that feature Hitler as a special guest; burlesque that goes beyond the scantily limited morals of even a Brighton Beach variety; and Morrissey-obsessed DJs who live for men in black pants getting dirty with underage girls on stage. Just so long as they pose for the website.
If the Patriot Act includes a new Un-American Activities Committee, Rififi wants to be spanked by them. But who doesn’t? Debauchery here is a pose, like the heroin-affected hipster who’s only sipped too much NyQuil. The horror films are established cult classics, the burlesque good, semi-clean fun, and the comedy mostly tame “what-the-fuck-is-up-with-that “ observations, though you’re bound to find the occasional gem. I caught a show rescued by the comedy of a black-albino man named Jeffrey, whose light skin and blonde afro pale beside stories of his “ghetto” family.
The new wave spun by DJ Jess and Alex Malfunction on Fridays is infectious, if not the kind of stuff you grow out of (but never lose nostalgia for). Rififi’s dance/stage area is small, and when it packs to capacity during summer nights there’s a sweaty stench off the crowd worthy of a Monday night horror screening. But the hunger for energy here is never sated, and the blurry swirl of half-naked bodies and dark, low-budget films behind them feels forbidden in the most inviting sense.