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The Pyramid Club, a Drag and Punk Rock Landmark, Closes After 41 Years

The East Village institution will not be reopening after the coronavirus pandemic

The exterior of the East Village bar Pyramid Club with its grates closed
East Village institution the Pyramid Club has closed after a decades-long run
Americasroof/Wikimedia Commons

Decades-old East Village institution the Pyramid Club — known at its heights for its drag performances and punk rock scene — will not be reopening after the coronavirus pandemic. Managers Maria Narciso and Quirino Perez confirm that the venue’s owners have decided to permanently close after 41 years, citing the economic downturn from the pandemic and a lack of guidance around nightclubs being able to reopen. Neighborhood blog EV Grieve first reported news of the closure.

Like countless restaurants and bars across the city, the Pyramid Club temporarily closed its doors in early March ahead of the indoor dining shutdown but never reopened them. “No one expected this pause to last more than a year,” Narciso tells EV Grieve. “While many businesses were allowed to open with heavy restrictions, nightclubs and performance venues/theaters have suffered the most.”

Narciso, along with fiancé Perez, reportedly had plans in place to reopen the bar with a food menu and socially distant dance floor, but they were never able to present them to the venue’s owners. “For decades, managers have run The Pyramid Club with unfortunately very little communication from the owners,” Narciso tells EV Grieve. “We don’t know what their plans are, as they are very private people and rarely, if ever, talk about their business plans with us.”

More than a year after the nightclub temporarily closed its doors, Perez texted the owners to inquire about reopening plans. They reportedly responded that “due to COVID-19, The Pyramid Club will not reopen.”

When the Pyramid Club debuted on Avenue A in 1979, it was anything but an institution. The small neighborhood dive bar was frequented mostly by “old Polish men [who] would come in for their 50 cent shots at 9 in the morning,” early patrons say. And then came the 1980s. During the course of that decade, the venue became known known as a gathering place for the neighborhood’s musicians, artists, actors, and drag queens.

At its height, the club “served as a safe haven for freaks, geeks, weirdos, queers, and dreamers to come together and create,” according to an article in Red Bull Music Academy. “Sometimes it was bad; sometimes it was beautiful. But it was never boring.” The Pyramid Club claims to have hosted the first New York performances of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana, along with celebrated drag queen RuPaul, whose first show in New York City reportedly occurred at the bar in 1982.

“We want to remind you that the Pyramid Club is just a building, we are the Pyramid Spirit, it lives inside all of us, inside of YOU, and it will live on!” Perez shared in a post on Instagram following news of the closure.