101 Avenue A / 6th Street
Pyramid has undergone many incarnations throughout its history, filling the intimate three room space with the broadest cast of odd characters. The groundbreaking Industrial-Fetish event Stigmata and the equally remarkable Apocalyptic Folk event Därk Wävë were hosted here in the very early nineties, and after their respective demises and departures Pyramid hosted popular gay nights for several years. The stay of Exedor following its tenure at The Bank and sojourn at Coney Island High revitalized the ebbing interest in the venue. Today, Pyramid is the only venue in New York whose primary focus seems to be the Gothic-Industrial scene. Many consider it a sanctuary.
The entry space itself is deceptively humble and has the general layout of a corner bar, with all the layers of black caking paint that you'd expect from such a place. The narrow entryway leads to an even narrower bar area, which is roughly four people wide, and twenty to thirty long. The bar itself is extremely well-stocked and reasonably priced. At its far end is the stair to the basement, the bathrooms, coatcheck (not always open), and the opening to the main dancefloor and stage.
Recent attempts to redecorate the upstairs bar area have been encouraging; the walls are a better color and smoother, and the drink ledge on the far side of the bar now has a texture made from a transparent resin, with shiny trinkets embedded in it. Christmas lights knot around the drinks behind the bartenders amidst Halloween decorations and the occasional vandalized stuffed animal. The clownfish with a Hitler moustache and swastika armband is especially charming. Yes children; this is the rumpus room of Belial.
The dancefloor is medium sized and stark. A square space with a dusty black tile floor with benches on either side, Pyramid makes up for the sparse decor with lighting and the mood the clientele bring to the event. This simplicity allows the space to be decorated amazingly and temporarily when the effort is made. The stage is plain and wooden, but the sound system is excellent. The plainess of the environment keeps it adaptable, and some of the most visually stimulating performances at Pyramid have benefitted immensely by this flexibility.
Downstairs is not always open; but when it is, it has a smaller bar, a sofa, some cafe tables and soft chairs in key spots, and a raised portion of the floor on the southern side of the room with a variety of comfortable chairs (mostly for friends of the acting DJ.) The entire downstairs has flaws; a low ceiling, minimal ventilation, and shadowy beyond the needs of style yet this also gives it a more gothic feel than upstairs. Cracks in the ceiling with lights inserted sometimes give it an otherworldly menace reminiscent of the Hellraiser movies. Occasionally you feel like you're in a building which has recently recovered from a massive fire, in which most of the lightbulbs have exploded, and everything is saturated with carbon and smoke (an impression which I personally find to be rather cool.)
Both the main and basement lavatories suffer from the repeated misusage from thrashing drunks with recalcitrant bladders and tumultuous digestive tracts. The downstairs bathroom is compact to the point that it doesn't adequately serve long legged or flabby people, and is notorious for backing up and spewing putrescences onto the basement dancefloor. This is an inescapable byproduct of a venue which takes a vast amount of wear and tear from serious revelry.
Don't let that discourage you for one moment. New Yorkers often relish the rough edges of their nightspots for many, it is the veritable seal of credibility. Grittiness, perhaps, is the purest expression of the spirit of the NY scene it connotates everything taboo, outcast, and mysterious. Pyramid is, to be wordy, a chthonic experience; a roughly hewn underworld populated by strange beings, haunting sounds, and wild ideas.
Commentary by Clifford Hartleigh Low, Friday, April 17, 1998.
|Illustration by Kurt Komoda|