Friday, April 15, 2016

Dempsey's - End of an Era (beginning of another)

Dempsey's Pub, looking out the front window.

I've been making it to the Irish music session at Dempsey's Pub on 2nd Avenue fairly often (at least for me) over the winter and spring so far. One night I was sitting on one of the barstools by the wall, looking at more or less this view (only with musicians of course) and out of the blue came the thought, "What a lot of weather I've watched out of that window". This session has been running for 20 years, and I think I've been attending for around 15 of those. I'm an irregular regular, I'll go for long stretches without attending, but I always like knowing it's there when I'm feeling like a tune and a pint. I've been there in all seasons, watched rain, snow, sleet, hail, and fog out that window (oh yes, and some nice nights too), and I found myself feeling strangely nostalgic about it.

Last Tuesday, I was thinking the same thing, but now there's nothing at all strange about feeling that way. Dempsey's is closing down for renovations and a change of format to match the increasingly hip vibe of the neighborhood. So Tuesday's session was the last there at the session's original home. The turnout was massive, so it was held in the back of the pub instead of up here where we normally met, and, to use the Irish phrase, the craic was mighty as we said farewell to the old place.

I took both of my cameras, of course - the Lumix for stills plus the Optio for some video. Haven't had time this week to check the videos, but I did go through the photos the other night and I got some nice ones. Click here to visit my flickr album of that night's fun, and click here for more about the closing on Gothamist.

Fortunately, although Dempsey's will be gone, our amazing and dedicated session leader, John Nevin, and the owner of Dempsey's, Tom O'Byrne, a very good singer himself, have made arrangements for the longest-running session in New York City to live on (phew!). Tom owns another very nice pub not too far away, and so starting next Tuesday, we'll be there instead, and the Dempsey's Irish Traditional Music Session will carry on as the Dempsey's Irish Traditional Music Session In Residence At Slainte. Stop by any Tuesday night for some great music!  


LauraEhlers said...

So sad to lose a favorite hangout. One of our favs has recently added on due to their increased popularity and delish food, but the atmosphere is not the same. Glad they are moving the music though! Nothing like great live music!!

bonnie said...

Yeah, it was sad to say goodbye. The session had moved to Slainte temporarily back in 2007 when Dempsey's was being renovated, and at first I thought it was just that again, but I'd misunderstood the original emails that went around.

On the plus side, Slainte is a long block closer. Manhattan blocks are rectangular so one block can make a big difference if it's in the right direction; I walk there from my office, and for all the weather I've watched out that window, there have also been a lot of nights when I chose not to go because it was just far enough and the weather was just bad enough to send me home instead. I'm actually thinking this may be just enough closer to make the go/no go decision land on "go" a little more often. Fingers crossed!

Still sad though.

Alana said...

Change can be good but it can also be sad. Especially when the change comes due to a change in neighborhood vibe. I grew up in New York City, and know that kind of thing (neighborhood change) all too well.