Friday, April 15, 2011

If the Electric Circus were to open today

At first, this was meant as nothing more than an appreciation of some photos (via Getty Images) of the Electric Circus from 1968 ... with the original photo captions on the first three...


"Patrons at Electric Circus, 23 St. Marks Place, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, New York City. stops for check. Girls not wearing bras are admitted free on Sundays."


"UNITED STATES - JUNE 27: Transparent plastic bra strap, virtually invisible around back, gives a topless look to formal mini at the Electric Circus at 23 St. Marks Place, New York City. (Photo by William Quinn/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)"


"Fashionable crowd mill about outside the Electric Circus 23 St. Marks Place, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, New York City."

Then I started thinking about the reaction if this very same venue would open here today... A hot club promoter (in this case, Jerry Brandt) ... celebrities... crowds from everywhere showing up on St. Mark's Place... how would the community respond? No bra night?! Sounds like some stunt Superdive would have pulled. And look at that mob on the sidewalk! Call 311! (And what would those local bloggers write!) Has the influx of bars and jackasses and woo-wooing in recent years made us intolerant of any nightlife? Or maybe just some nightlife? Or a certain type of nightlife? (I can keep going with the vague rhetorical questions!) Regardless, I would have liked to seen this concept go before today's CB3/SLA committee...

Anyway, here are several more photos from the Getty archives... the Electric Circus closed in 1971... the address now houses a Supercuts and Chipotle ... as well as $17,000 apartments...






By the way, this wasn't meant as a history of the space... plenty has been written about it, including, but not limited to:

Jack Newfield Catches the Electric Circus Opening on St. Marks (The Village Voice)

FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER: The Electric Circus (The Bowery Boys)

Streetscapes / 19-25 St. Marks Place; The Eclectic Life of a Row of East Village Houses (The Times)

Live on St. Mark's Place for only $17,000 per month! (EV Grieve)

18 comments:

NYCDreamin said...

Good stuff - thanks!

blue glass said...

great pictures
the place was also a loud, dark den of drugs, a grateful dead happening and a pain in the ass for people in the neighborhood - as was (is) webster hall.
jackie kennedy was there so i guess that made it ok

HEY19 said...

Some very good questions. This place would have no chance today. No Bra night would peg it as fratty before the doors open. Very funny. Also great pics, looks like a good time. I dont want to look too closely and risk seeing my parents in the background somewhere...

Melanie said...

I was there--it was a great place. Oh those heady daze. Great venue for music and many cool artists performed there.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

And how did people react to places like Club 57, the Pyramid, A7, and Save the Robots years later?

I had just moved to 12th St from Ludlow St way back when and remember my new roommate and I decided to go out for a drink to celebrate. We wanted to avoid the crowds at the Holiday and Blue & Gold and instead blazed a trail to a little Polish bar that was then where I think the McDonald's is now on 1st Ave. There were only a handful of older people inside and the bartender took one look at us two skinny punk kids and plaintively asked us please to go somewhere else. We did. I forget where we wound up. Probably Slugger Ann's.

nygrump said...

They had a little class back then; the pimps nowadays would feature "no panties" night and there would be a crowd of sweaty freaks in baseball caps with their digital cameras hoping for a peek.

Marty Wombacher said...

Great post, observation and photos! All you need is love and no bras. I wish I was there right now, zonked out of my gourd on mescaline.

Anonymous said...

If they brought back the Electric Circus it would only be a matter of time before they would be filming American Idol and the Iron Chef in the space.

Anonymous said...

Given the current situation nothing good could come out of a club like this. What needs to happen in the neighborhood is to save the existing music/art/theater venues that are in jeopardy. Adding a new club even if the performers are cutting edge wouldn't do anything for the neighborhood. Until the housing people start purchasing existing buildings and developing now ones for affordable housing nothing will save us. As long as Dominic Pisciotta and David McWater continue to run land use and the SLA committee nothing will get better only worse.

Tom said...

Billy Joel's "A Matter of Trust" video was shot there in the '80s:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yYchgX1fMw

Goggla said...

Hot Chicks Room?

EV Grieve said...

@Goggla

Ha!

cathryn said...

Excellent post! Thanks. Thoughtful and also fun to read.

Cathryn.

DrBOP said...

'Ya know, nostalgia can be a wierdly fascinating 'tingmon....we ripped thru this place a couple of times in the late60s....and (with all due respect to Ms. Melanie) it sucked BIG TIME....overpriced, over-polyestered weekend warriors tryin' to outcool each other.....soulful rating of ZERO....mostly folks NOT from the LES.....and come to think about it, the first appearance of FRAT BOYS lookin' for the next WAHOOOOO experience.....sorry, I look at this place as part of the deep roots of the bullshit that most of the Village has become.....and, I mean C'MON, an eyepatch....really?....an EYEPATCH......really?
And Marty, mescaline and this place might have left you in a state that you might never have returned from......watch OUT what you wish for dear sir.

lauren said...

it was called the "balloon farm" in 1966. the 'velvet underground" preformed there. w/rudy sterns light shows. i helped him w/the gels to project on the walls. i went there summer/ fall/ winter "66, wkends. during the week it was a polish dance hall called the "dom". it was renamed "electric circus" after that. there were not many clubs @all in the EV. the "filmore east" was there around 1968-69. the only places where kids hung out were on st. marks & also from there to 6 st & 2nd ave. other than that, it was quiet. i lived on corner of 5th & 2nd (north east corner), from 1968 fall to 1970 spring, on top of hebrew national deli. 5th floor. these are the true facts. no im not one of your parents.

lauren said...

comment #2-oh yes, to answer your question: i dont think a cool place that that would be there. these artists like andy or rudy stern would not be in a fratty envirement. most likely in a low rent district, maybe somewhere in a warehouse in brooklyn or queens. or very north up in spanish harlem above e.110th street.

C.L. Rogers said...

Were "The Dom" and "The Electric Circus" the same place or one above the other. Also found this on YouTube from an old movie. Would love to know if the place the couple is in, was wondering if it's The Dom or EC. Thanks. The movie was film on location in NYC. Thanks.

C.L. Rogers said...

Here is link, forgot to insert

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeZZuQzcEZc&feature=channel&list=UL