Essex was a street with which I felt pretty familiar, but as we walked further and further East, the weird area had us doubting ourselves–or at least me wondering why the hell I had dragged my group so far afield. And then I saw what had to be the bar, as there was nothing else around, and the nondescript industrial door was surrounded by two very large bouncers, one of whom was wearing a lame Nautica sweatshirt. All I could do was shrug and give that “are you sure?” look to my comrades. Walking into the bar, it felt not unlike entering a walk-in freezer or slaughterhouse, and my “oh shit” alarm once again started beeping. It turned out not to be the prologue to a teen slasher film, but the crowd was about the age of that target audience. The first thing to hit us was the wall of unbearable heat. Imagine, if you would, standing inside an airless 727 fuselage heading directly into the sun. Claustrophobia and brackish warmth broke out on several folks’ upper lips and staring back into the depths of the narrow, dark cave of a bar gave no impression that anyone else was having a great time. We plastered ourselves against one wall, debating how quickly we could exit without looking like old douchebags. Luckily we would incur no wrath from the bartender, as there didn’t seem to be one. There was a little group of youngsters standing at the bar unserviced, one asking “Does anybody know what the hell is going on here?” The answer, sadly, was no. We could see this place was in a death spiral, so we beat a quick retreat and kissed the filthy sidewalk outside as if we had barely escaped with our lives. [MF]

49 Essex St.