The Village Gate

The Village Gate

The Village Gate was a nightclub at the corner of Thompson and Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, New York.
Art D'Lugoff opened the club in 1958, on the ground floor and basement of 158 Bleecker Street. The large Chicago School structure built in 1896 by renowned architect Ernest Flagg [] . was known at the time as Mills House No. 1 and served as a flophouse for transient men.

Throughout its 38 years the Village Gate featured such greats as John Coltrane, " Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris", Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Vasant Rai, and Nina Simone. Aretha Franklin made her first New York appearance there.

The “Salsa Meets Jazz” series at the Village Gate was a seminal part of the history of New York Latin music. In the 60’s, radio DJ and Latin music advocate Symphony Sid hosted a regular Monday night concert at the Village Gate entitled “Monday Nights at the Gate” featuring the best of New York’s thriving Latin music scene. As salsa music began to grow in popularity, the Alegre record label began to host quite a few events at the Village Gate - many of which resulted in live recordings. Some of the live recordings from the Village Gate that made a huge impression were the Alegre All-Star (and later Tico All-Star) Descarga sessions. In 1977, WRVR Latin music DJ Roger Dawson developed a weekly event that brought a top Latin band together with a guest jazz soloist. Mr. Dawson named the event “Salsa Meets Jazz” and the musical results are legendary.

The club hosted a benefit for Timothy Leary in May 1970 that featured performances from such counterculture luminaries as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Allen Ginsberg. In 1971 Madame made her debut on the arms of Wayland Flowers, performing in the high camp "Kumquats, The World's First Erotic Puppet Show".

From 1971 to 1973, a musical comedy revue called "National Lampoon Lemmings" had a successful run at the Gate. It starred future comic notables John Belushi, Chevy Chase Garry Goodrow and Christopher Guest, and lampooned the 1969 Woodstock Festival, which had taken place upstate two years earlier, calling it "Woodchuck" and equating the entire hippie generation with lemmings bent on self-destruction.

From 1988 to 1991, the improvisational comedy troupe Noo Yawk Tawk performed at the upstairs theater. The group was conceived and directed by Richmond Shepard, a world renowned mime, actor, comedian and teacher. All of the performances for Noo Yawk Tawk were entirely improvised. Characters may have been repeated but never the sketches or the dialogue. The audience always set the scene and conditions for each improvisation so every performance was different. The cast included Stan Taffel, Marc Kudisch, Debra Wilson, Garry Goodrow, Miguel Sierra, Ken Dashow, Nola Roeper, Bonnie Comley & Richmond Shepard. Taffel would go on to win three Emmy Awards for his performances in The News In Revue on PBS. Kudisch earned a Tony nomination in 2002.

The Village Gate closed its Greenwich Village location in 1993. The ground floor is currently occupied by CVS/Pharmacy. The off-Broadway capacity Village Theater, which hosted performances of the musically-themed "Love, Janis", "Dream a Little Dream", and "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" occupied the sub-level performance space until Fall 2007.

The Village Gate relocated until 1997 at 240 West 52d Street in a site formerly occupied by the Lone Star Road House. In 1998 the 52nd Street location was taken by a brief reincarnation of Max's Kansas City.

In Spring 2008 the space was re-opened as a multi-use performance venue and gallery bar called (le) poisson rouge [] .

Notable Productions

The Village Gate Upstairs:
Love Lemmings (1991)
Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holliday (1990)

Noo Yawk Tawk (1998)
Beehive (1986)

A... My Name Is Alice (1983)
Rap Master Ronnie (1983)
Lovesong (1976)

Tommy Tune Atop The Gate (1975)
The Charles Pierce Show (1974)

The Village Gate Downstairs:
Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (1992)
Further Mo' (1990)

Sid Caesar & Company: The Legendary Genius of Comedy (1989)
Sing Hallelujah! (1987)
National Lampoon's Class of '86 (1986)
El Grande de Coca-Cola (1986)
Lies & Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin (1985)
Shades of Harlem (1984)
Orwell That Ends Well (1984)
One Mo' Time (1979)
Sterling Silver (1979)
Nightsong (1977)
2 by 5 (1976)

Let My People Come (1974)

National Lampoon's Lemmings (1973)
A Quarter for the Ladies' Room (1972)

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (1968)
MacBird (1967)

52nd Street
A Brief History of White Music (1996)


Notable albums recorded live at The Village Gate:

Albert Ayler "Live In Greenwich Village" (1965)

Shlomo Carlebach "At The Village Gate" (1963)

Alice Coltrane "Journey In Satchidananda" (1970)

Chris Connor "At The Village Gate"

Larry Coryell "At The Village Gate" (1971)
Tico All-Stars "Decargas: Live At The Village Gate (1966) feat. Tito Puente, Victor Paz, Charlie Palmieri, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Jimmy Sabater, and Joe Cuba

Dick Gregory "Live At The Village Gate" (1970)

Coleman Hawkins "Alive! At the Village Gate" (1962)

Milt Jackson Quintet "Live At The Village Gate" (1963)

Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan "Havin' A Ball At The Village Gate" (1963)

Chuck Mangione "Live At The Village Gate" (1989)

Herbie Mann "Live At The Village Gate" (1961)

Thelonious Monk "Live At The Village Gate" (1963)

Tito Puente "Live At The Village Gate" (1992)

Sonny Rollins "Our Man In Jazz" (1962)

Mongo Santamaria "At The Village Gate" (1963)

Horace Silver Quintet "Doin' The Thing (At The Village Gate)" (1961)

Nina Simone "At The Village Gate" (1962)

Swingle Singers "Live In New York '82" (1982)

Clark Terry "Live At The Village Gate" (1990)

Toshiko at Top of the Gate(1968)

Flip Wilson "Live At The Village Gate" (1964)

The Village Gate was a stop on the Greenwich Village Walking Tour, in part because Bob Dylan wrote A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall in September 1962 in a basement apartment occupied by Chip Monck, the Village Gate lighting engineer and future compere and lighting designer of the Woodstock Festival.

The Village in popular culture

The Village Gate makes a Cameo Appearance in the Film "Across the Universe" (2007)


* [ NYC Architecture article]
* [ Village Gate to Swing Again]


* [ Biography for Art D'Lugoff]

* [ Ivan Black Papers] The personal papers of the longtime publicist for the Village Gate and other New York jazz clubs, in the [ Music Division] of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

External links

*Off-Broadway Theater []

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