The East Village may be gentrifying, but it’s still one of the last refuges for bohemia in Manhattan, and the coolest place to say you got that regrettable tattoo. The neighborhood around Tompkins Square Park has seen its share of immigrants, artists, musicians, drug dealers, gangsters, beatniks, hippies, anarchists, and punks – and eventually, yuppies and tourists who have seen RENT too many times. Our guide only features some favorites of ours, as it would be difficult to write an exhaustive and descriptive guide. So wander in and marvel at the fact that one neighborhood can still have so much soul.
1. Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 236 E 3rd Street, between Avenues B and C
If you love slam poetry and live in New York, you’ve been to the Nuyorican, one of the last remaining places dedicated to poetry in Manhattan. Even if you don’t, give the Nuyorican a try anyway. Their team of in-house poets is the most inspiring, thoughtful, witty, even hilarious one in the city. And you will get hyped up to hear them–the venue’s hosts are usually nothing short of fabulous, and get the audience dancing between sets. Readings are frequently presided over by DJs with preferences for old school hip hop. When visiting, keep in mind that the word “cafe” is a bit of an exaggeration–there’s a bar you have to fight to get to, and some very closely-packed seating facing the stage.