Archives for category: amNewYork

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According to police, there were more than 32,000 speakeasies in New York City in 1929, nine years into Prohibition. New York Times articles of the day called these illegal hooch houses “one of the outstanding social institutions of New York.”

As you can tell, New Yorkers never really let Prohibition slow them down or dry them out.

Today, thankfully you don’t have to keep your eyes on any secret back doors or hidden passageways to enjoy a cold brew. Manhattan bars are no longer subject to regular police raids –¬ except maybe to flush out those 18-year-old NYU freshmen –¬ but there are still a handful of classy old-time joints that keep the speakeasy tradition alive.

Just don’t tell anybody. It’ll be our little secret. Read the rest of this entry »

Venues let you live the dream.

Monday Night Rock & Roll Karaoke at Arlene's Grocery

Monday Night Rock & Roll Karaoke at Arlene's Grocery

The bar lights dim, exciting an already anxious crowd. A disembodied voice booms from the PA system, welcoming the audience and reciting “The Ten Commandments”.

Their first Commandment? “Thou Shalt Seek Only to Rock!”

This isn’t a rock concert, per se. Nor is it typical karaoke, where your only backup comes from a tinny machine and the hearty laughter of your friends. Welcome to Live Rock and Roll Karaoke at Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton Street, between Ludlow and Orchard Streets, 212-995-1652), where every Monday night at 10 p.m., amateur singers, Lower East Side hipsters and drunken partiers alike can choose from a list of over 200 rock classics, then mount the stage to front a live band. Because anyone can be a rock god – at least for one song. Read the rest of this entry »

The seventh and final Harry Potter tome hits shelves midnight Friday. Celebrate Harry, all over town.

The Harry Potter "Knight Bus"

The Harry Potter "Knight Bus"

The wait is finally over. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film adaptation in the series, is already breaking box office records since its opening on July 11, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the hotly anticipated seventh and final book in J.K Rowling’s hit series, will be available beginning Friday at midnight. And all you muggles will have plenty of ways to pass the time until you can get your hands on it.

In celebration of the release, Scholastic, Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher, again turns its own backyard into “Harry Potter Place” from 5pm to 11pmFriday evening on an entire SoHo block (Mercer Street, between Prince and Spring Streets). This magical and interactive street fair features a giant Muggle Board, where Harry Potter fans can share personal messages about the books, a gallery where fans can have their photos taken, and a 20-foot high moving Whomping Willow (controlled by puppeteers inside its trunk). As if that weren’t enough, there will also be face painting, wand-making, fire-eaters, magicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Let your inner Frenchman out, and celebrate Bastille Day

2006 Bastille Day Street Fair

2006 Bastille Day Street Fair

On July 14, 1789, a crowd of Parisians stormed the French prison called the Bastille, unleashing waves of bloodshed and, eventually, liberté, egalité and fraternité. Considered the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy, Bastille Day is celebrated in France with parades, fireworks and the start of summer vacations. So, if one Independence Day just wasn’t enough, ex-pats and Francophiles can also celebrate the other red, white and blue this weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Angie Pontani

Angie Pontani

Burlesque emerged in the late 19th century as a mix of satire, performance art and adult entertainment, featuring striptease and comedy acts. New York City was burlesque’s first home, with its epicenter on the Bowery, the Lower East Side and Broadway. The mid-20th century saw a decline in its popularity, but today New York is again at the heart of the burlesque revival, dubbed “Neo-burlesque,” encompassing a wider range of performance styles. As always, the focus is more on the “tease” than the “strip.” You can see some of the best new burlesque acts at these venues: Read the rest of this entry »

In preparation for SketchFest NYC, amNewYork spoke with Chris Principe, 27, and Jeff Solomon, 26, two members of the New York-based five-piece sketch comedy group Elephant Larry, which formed in 2002.

There is nobody named Larry in the group, nor are there elephants.

They will be performing Saturday, June 9 at 10pm.

How do you define sketch comedy?
Jeff: I think what’s funny about sketch comedy is that people tend to know what it is, and not know that they know, actually. So if you say, “Oh, it’s like Saturday Night Live,” they’re like, “Oh, that thing, yeah.” And then if people don’t like SNL, you say, “It’s like SNL, but funny.”

Chris: [SketchFest] is cool, because you get to see a lot of different groups, and yeah, it’s all sketch comedy, but there are so many different ways to take it that you don’t realize. And especially for outsiders, people who aren’t familiar with the form. It’s so much more than Saturday Night Live. Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing sketchy about these comics: National troupes strut their stuff 

Elephant Larry

Elephant Larry

Fans of comedy groups like Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, Human Giant and the Whitest Kids U Know can rejoice this weekend, because starting Thursday, June 7, 21 different sketch comedy groups from around North America have converged on the East 13th Street Theatre for the third annual SketchFest NYC, promising three nights of the funniest sketch comedy from the U.S. and Canada.

“The goal was always to show New Yorkers not just the best sketch comedy in New York,” said SketchFest NYC producer Alex Zalben, “but the best sketch comedy in the nation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Drinks: Up on the roof — The best rooftop bars for your buck.

230 Fifth

230 Fifth

Want a different summer escape every night of the week? As Manhattan’s rooftop bar season kicks into high gear this month, there are more than 25 places to see a bird’s-eye view the city. Relax and enjoy fresh air — except for the cigarette smoke — and even more refreshing drinks at any of the high-altitude bars, whether they’re trendy clubs, hidden dives or just a plastic lawn chair on a tar roof. Here are seven standouts, so you can sip in style every day of the week: Read the rest of this entry »

NYC’s best beer gardens

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

Between 1820 and 1860, 1.5 million immigrants arrived in America from Germany, bringing with them their own cultural traditions — ¬ among them outdoor beer gardens. Unlike the bars in Irish neighborhoods, the German beer gardens catered to whole families, and public drinking was just one of their attractions. Although many of New York’s historic beer gardens have disappeared, this summer you can still enjoy a cold one at any of these authentic beer gardens around the city. Read the rest of this entry »