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Top 6 East Village Gay Bars

Your Guide to Going Out in NYC's Alternative 'Hood

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The East Village has long been Manhattan's alternative enclave, and its array of quirky (and sometimes downright raunchy) gay bars reflect that anti-establishment aesthetic. Mainstream this ain't: The fashions and music here are the most cutting edge in the city, but the vibe is generally relaxed, and all are welcome, even slummers and lookie-loos. 

 

1. Eastern Bloc

Oversqueeze a horde of hot alternagays into a small East Village bar, ply them liberally with vodka, screen vintage porn amidst a Soviet-style propaganda decor, backlay it all with the savviest music of the moment, and what do you get? A little something called Eastern Bloc. Once the home of '90s homo hipster haven Wonder Bar, today's Eastern Bloc is again one of the neighborhood's most consistently packed hotspots (read: like sardines on weekends, which can be both good and bad). To help you get your drink on, the Bloc also features the East Village's latest happy hours, from 7 to 10 p.m. nightly.

Eastern Bloc, 505 E. 6th Street between Avenues A and B, 212-777-2555

Take the L to First Ave. or the F, V to Second Ave.

 

2. The Boiler Room

In the mid to late '90s this dark but roomy dive reigned supreme on the East Village scene, then fell into a long lean spell in the aughts. Now the Boiler Room is back with a vengeance, often packed to the gills with one of the widest cross-sections of gay maledom imaginable, everyone from homo hipsters to the stray horny Hasidim. Drink specials are common, and the crowd's mood is fittingly lively. The jukebox is amazing, but be forewarned: If the bad music you play lacks irony, the otherwise friendly bartenders reserve the right to skip to the next track.

The Boiler Room, 86 E. 4th Street between First and Second Avenues, 212-254-7536

Take the F, V to Second Ave. or the 6 to Bleecker St.

 

3. Nowhere

With one of the most eclectic clientele mixes in the city, Nowhere is the closest you'll come to what an East Village bar must've been like in the neighborhood's alternative heyday, drawing a refreshing local hodgepodge of bohos, neo-bears, lesbians, and – gasp – even friendly heteros. Its downstairs low-ceilinged setting and the always-active pool table at the back lend it all the odd but comfy vibe of being in someone's basement. Great local DJs provide the soundtrack, with nightly rotating themes.  Bonus: The irresistibly gooey goodness of Artichoke Pizza is just a few doors down to help soak up the booze before heading home.

Nowhere, 322 E. 14th Street between First and Second Avenues, 212-477-4744

Take the L to First Ave.

 

4. The Cock

The red neon red rooster above the entrance welcomes you to one of the East Village's (and indeed Manhattan's) bawdiest bistros, where cruising is heavy and public displays of great affection are not at all uncommon. It's one of the few neighborhood bars to charge a cover, but you get what you pay for: Its two floors of action include dirty dancing to eclectic DJs, go-go guys galore, and general post-midnight mayhem. The rooster's nightly event roster boasts the new Black Cock on Fridays, a union with Manhattan club legend Mr. Black.

The Cock, 29 Second Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets, 212-777-6254

Take the F, V to Second Ave. or the 6 to Bleecker St.

 

5. The Phoenix

A longtime cornerstone of the East Village gay scene, these days The Phoenix can be a bit hit-or-miss crowd-wise, sometimes packed and sometimes empty, without apparent rhyme or reason. A few things, however, are Phoenix certainties: cheap strong drinks, a typically friendly and low maintenance crowd, and the city's best jukebox.

The Phoenix, 447 E. 13th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, 212-477-9979

Take the L to First Ave.

 

6. The Urge

Unlike the guiltless abandon at The Cock, there's a bit of a creepy feel to the sex-vibe of this big bi-leveled haunt. Maybe it's the sex club-ish aroma that hits you as you enter, maybe it's the desperation of some of its drunker denizens, or maybe it's leftover energy from the space's reported former life as a funeral parlor. Still, Urge is a renowned pick-up point and is often packed, especially later in the evening when people pour in after a few stops elsewhere. Watch your drink, because the beefy strippers work the full length of large center bar.

The Urge, 33 Second Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets, 212-533-5757

Take the F, V to Second Ave. or the 6 to Bleecker St.

 

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