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Nuyorican Poets Café

Nuyorican Poets Café 1 Music Venues Theaters Alphabet City East Village Loisaida

Once described by writer Allen Ginsberg as “the most integrated place on the planet,” the lively Nuyorican Poets Cafe is not only a venue for poetry readings. Audiences have witnessed visual artists, musicians, writers, actors, and every other kind of performer pass through its doors.

Though the Nuyorican has cemented a place for itself in New York City’s art scene, its beginnings were humble. Puerto Rican-born writer and poet Miguel Algarín founded the group in his East Village apartment to give artists and performers of color a space to develop their craft. Many New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent met regularly in Mr. Algarín’s living room to share their creative efforts, fueling the rise of what would be known as the “Nuyorican” artistic and literary movements.

By the 1980s, the Nuyorican went from being excluded from the mainstream to attracting enough of a following to open a new location in a former tenement building on East 3rd Street. Today, the Nuyorican continues to draw crowds at its regular poetry slams, open mic nights, concerts, and art exhibits spotlighting talented people with powerful messages.

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Nuyorican Poets Café 1 Music Venues Theaters Alphabet City East Village Loisaida

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The Book Club

Book Club isn’t just for the suburbs anymore — as a new bookshop, bar and coffeehouse gives East Village denizens and beyond a new place to pore over and pour over their favorite reads. Married proprietors Erin Neary and Nat Esten, East Village residents themselves, had longed for an independent bookstore to serve the Alphabet City area, they told the Manhattan Sideways team when we popped in to see dozens of happy customers enjoying a read and a latte one sunny Friday morning. “We always thought that the neighborhood needed another bookstore, ” said Erin, “and we also kept wondering, ‘Wouldn't it be so cool if you could drink wine while you were shopping for books? ’” They decided not only to open a bookstore and bar, but to additionally add in the day-to-night-element of coffee into the mix. While both Erin and Nat had worked in hospitality before, bookselling was new to them. “I started doing research in 2017 and worked with the American Booksellers Association’s consulting program to help new bookstores get off the ground, ” said Erin. “I met with them as well as other bar owners and bookstore owners in the neighborhood and did as much research as I could without actually doing it. ” The duo launched Book Club in November 2019, enjoying an enthusiastic community reception until COVID-19 forced them to pivot. “Nate started doing bike deliveries — as many as 20 miles a day! ” Erin told us. “He’d go out to Harlem to drop off books and then all the way out to Bushwick — so a lot of people learned about the store that way. ”Once they were able to reopen to the public, Book Club forged full steam ahead in engaging the community in “book club”-esque events — from author talks to poetry readings to creative writing workshops, with additional unique offerings like an adult spelling bee and a “drink and draw” sketching class. They’ve also recently received their full liquor license, and plan to roll out literary-themed cocktails like an In Cold Bloody Mary or the Murder on the Orient Espresso Martini, Erin told us. More than anything, she added, she enjoyed having customers back in the store to guide them toward their next favorite book. “Our staff are not just really good baristas, but they’re avid readers as well. So between myself and the rest of the team, we have a really good handle on the books here — it’s fun to be able to curate not just what we stock, but to get the right book into someone’s hands. ”