Alan Cumming Brings His Cabaret to the East Village

Alan Cumming Brings His Cabaret to the East Village

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Club Cumming, a new bar in the East Village owned by the actor Alan Cumming.

Credit
Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

When Alan Cumming reprised his role of M.C. in the 2014 Broadway production of “Cabaret,” he kept the party going offstage, hosting impromptu gatherings in his dressing room. He called it “Club Cumming” and had a neon sign made for the soiree. That sign now hangs in the East Village, where Mr. Cumming took over a gay bar formerly known as Eastern Bloc and gave it a Weimar-theme makeover, complete with a small stage for esoteric entertainment.

“This was my favorite bar,” said Mr. Cumming, who lives just a few blocks away. “I used to be here all the time.” Now as a proprietor (along with Daniel Nardicio, Darren Dryden and Ben Maisani), Mr. Cumming can sometimes be found holding court, as if he were still in character.

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Mr. Cumming dances with go-go dancers and guests at Club Cumming in September.

Credit
Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

The Place

Sandwiched between a Mexican restaurant and a dim sum joint on a dark side street, the place is easy to miss. There is no sign outside — just a black painted wood facade, glass block windows and a doorman. Inside, this former black box has been gussied up with chandeliers, velvety drapes and a mural painted by Mr. Cumming’s husband, Grant Shaffer.

The Crowd

Eastern Bloc was a typical gay dive bar, but Club Cumming feels more like a shoe box version of the Kit Kat Club that made Mr. Cumming famous. On a recent Saturday night, the crowd was a tightly packed mix of neighborhood gay men in vintage T-shirts brushing up against Becky types in black and gender-non-conforming millennials wearing glittery tanks, colorful scarves and the occasional boa. It was sometimes hard to tell where the show ends and the audience begins.

The Playlist

Nightly shows are only part of the scene; there are also strong sets from seasoned D.J.s like Michael Cavadias and Sammy Jo. While Fridays and Saturdays are more dance-y with a drag twist, weeknight lineups can include Broadway belters, classical cellists and piano karaoke. Check the club’s Facebook page for the schedule.

Getting In

During peak times around midnight, there can be a short line. But the door is not exclusionary, as exhibited by the diverse crowd. On weekends, there’s usually a $5 to $10 cover charge.

Drinks

This is not the place for craft cocktails, but the mixed drinks are solid and strong (starting at $10). There’s also a modest selection of beers in bottles and cans (from $5) and a few wines and proseccos ($10). And champagne, of course ($150, Veuve Clicquot).

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