If the Beatrice Inn were to close forever, rather than just temporarily, what would we say at its funeral? Because we're feeling wistful this afternoon, we're going to attempt something of a eulogy.
The Beatrice itself was born many, many years ago. It was once a speakeasy, back in those ratty days of prohibition. But its current incarnation—the cokey, smokey, fuck den—sprang to life in 2006, when Paul Sevigny, the brother of actress Chloë, masterminded, along with his partners, a bar/restaurant that would return some classic bar elements to New York. Italian-food specials and jacket-and-tie nights. Old New York, Carrie Bradshaw might neighingly call it.
But, you know, instead it mostly catered to those who could slink past a velvet rope, those who, giddy with abandon because New York was rich and everyone was young all the way back in 2006, wanted to sit in its dark, low-ceiling'd recesses and chain smoke, sneaking away every so often for a quickie or a bump in the bathroom. And there was dancing. Oh was there dancing. So you could say, in some sideways measure, an aura of Old New York did surround the Bea. It was a bit dangerous, a bit wild, and it was definitely mean, in that fashionable kind of way.
And then the celebrities came. Oh boy did they come. Sometimes literally!—actor Shia LaBeouf was heard once loudly begging for sex at the club, as if it was some loud, boorish frat party for the coolest frat kids in the world.
These celebrities set the standards for smoking and held court like it was no big deal. "Here we all are, under this ceiling, just relaxing," they seemed to say. While Hud Morgan, a notorious Bea dancer, thundered a drunken tarantella across the room. Well, he was dancing, but he was also fighting.
The former Men's Voguer 'famously' exchanged fisticuffs with his media colleague Spencer Morgan at the club last year, all over a girl. And so the glitz and glamor of the club, coupled with the constant crowing by some New York-centric blogosphere blogs, began bringing negative attention. Not really just from the crackdown authorities, who meekly tried to curb the drugs and smoking, but from losers and poseurs and people who cast the seething milieu in too-bright, unfavorable light. When all-too-willing media punching bag Julia Allison is seen weeping at your club, its must-go-to days may be numbered.
The whole thing started to wind down about a year ago. People still flocked, people still danced, people threw caution to the wind and did rails in the loo. But some luster was lost. The whole thing just became too top heavy, as any hotspot is wont to do. Remember Butter? Exactly.
A club whose thesis was all about that hard-but-warm New York edge became just another stared-at phenomenon. Sure it was (and still is) sorta tough to get into, but the harder it became, the more it started to look like trying. And as we all know, trying is definitely not cool.
So then we come to that temporary end. On one hand, maybe it'll be the shot the club needs. You know, if a "Free Beatrice" party ends up coalescing in some other dark corner this week, if the place suddenly seems gutter-glittery again.
Or, more likely, it'll just continue its soft decline. You know, there's a recession on and all and New York is changing. Some small few of us might still need those dull thumps and furtive bumps, but for most the whole thing will probably soon just seem silly and indulgent and wrong, joining the embarrassing annals of the city's pop history, like leg warmers or beanies, like Ms. Allison or the short reign of Peaches Geldof. And most bitterly, like all of our money. Our long lost money.
As a former Gawker editor just said to us over IM: "the ceilings were so low it gave me a sad."