While MOMA’s renovation was hogging media attention, another transformation was happening quite quietly on the Upper West Side. The EIGHT OF CLUBS (230 West 75th Street, 212-580-7389), that posh neighborhood’s secret gay bar, was transitioning from being a not-retro-just-left-behind dive to one of the weirdest walk-through art installations ever seen. Those orange gates can’t touch it. Walter Wimberly, resident barman and visionary, has turned his intimate watering hole into an acid flashback that makes you feel both timeless and placeless. Have a few shots up front before wandering through the outside garden. Chances are, if you’ve had enough tequila you’ll feel as though you fell down Alice’s rabbit hole and landed among works created by Dalí with materials from a salvage yard. The best part? The bar is still a dive.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005