Over the course of the weekend out on the `Island, I found myself at a dinner party thrown by some friends of ours on Saturday night, gathered around a table with a few fellow Manhattanites. The discussion turned to "favorite since-closed places in New York City" (believe it or not, I did not start this particular conversation). After citing a few choice restaurants and bars like Grange Hall, the Cedar Tavern (that was was mine, obviously) and ... er.. The Vault, the thread turned to music venues and the table lit up.
While I was slightly bemused that no one other than myself cited that ol' warhorse CBGB, the one place that the entire table concurred upon was Wetlands Preserve, a club that formerly held sway on the corner of Laight Street and Hudson back in the 1990s. While, yes, inarguably the flashpoint for countless lamentable neo-hippy jam bands, Wetlands had a booking policy that was refreshingly devoid of stylistic parameter. The list of artists I was lucky enough to witness on Wetlands' intimate stage is as diverse as it is long. From hemp-heralding hippie jams to hair-hating hardcore punk, Wetlands welcomed all and sundry into its spacious interior.
Wetlands closed in 2001 and is now a pricey furniture store, if memory serves. Below is a trailer I found this morning for a documentary about the place I'd be very curious to see. Strangely enough, the most cogent, on-point quote therein comes from Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowish (of all people):
"Y'all Don't Have Enough Condos in New York City? DAMN!"