112 Rivington Street, Lower East Side

Here’s another one of our famous upstairs/downstairs clubs. The upstairs at Fat Baby is an almost retro diner-meets-speakeasy atmosphere and the kind of place that may or may not let you light a cigarette after after hours. The downstairs, well, you could try the cigarette down there too between bands, which are typically loud and rocking…kind of like an old railroad car might be. The sound system’s not too great, but who cares? You’re in for the ride, baby.

162 Avenue B, Lower East Side

Sleepy by Lower East Side standards, Lakeside Lounge is a mellow rock-n-roll country bar that likes to stop time. There’s the working photo booth where you and your partner can saddle up with sunglasses, pucker your lips and freeze the night away. And there’s also the fact that the vibe seems to be literally stuck between times. On some nights, it’s one part 1975 and one part 1990. On other nights, it’s 2005 going on 1969. On all nights, however, there’s some semi-mellow (so as not to bother the neighbors) music in the back room with a few tables and chairs to gently pass the time away in an old-school kind of way.

95 Stanton Street, Lower East Side

With live music seven nights a week for as far back as I can remember, there’s a good chance that your starting musician neighbor, brother, cousin, friend or secret crush from Valley Stream to Montauk will play here in the coming months. And with what seems like a million bands a night, you’ll want to make sure you know what time he/she is playing. And with two bars—one in the room with the stage and one in the room without—you’ll want to have a little conversation before and after the show. And with Arlene’s being, in a way, the first real place a developing band will play in New York City, you may find a kind of electric energy in the room that reminds you those precious hours before the first date with someone really, really special.

alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at and find out about his music at