Saturday, January 07, 2006

Arka Lounge

In the 90's the big club scene was the "IN" thing. Copacabana on 54th Street, Latin Quarters on 96th Street, Casablanca in Queens, Flamingo's on 21st , Jimmy's and Sidestreets in the Bronx; each one with its distinct personality. Now we are hostages of a crop of lounge/bars that have taken over the Latino night life. To name a few: Arka, Ibiza ,Kana, La Kueva, Suba & Tantra Lounge.

Tonight, January 7, 2005, I am hitting the lounge scene with my boyfriend and his brother. There is a buzz surrounding Arka Lounge on Broadway and 192nd Street in Washington Heights (WaHi). Arka has been around since start of the millennium but the word is that it has gone through renovations and the music is just right, a blend of old school merengue, Spanish rock and pop, a little bit of salsa, reggaeton of course, and the American radio stations heavily rotated hip hop songs.

As we arrived finding parking proved painful. We decided to pay and park at a car wash lot right across from Arka $20 dollars for the night. This is a little steep for the neighborhood, but they got you...either pay or leave, finding street parking at midnight in this neighborhood is virtually nonexistent. The door was a very reasonable $10 dollars, so onward! Before we part the red sea (the entrance to the lounge is sectioned off by a deep red curtain) the security pat down search mission one goes through leaves you feeling a bit violated but more safe than sorry.

The decor is striking. Plush velvet sofas surround the walls on one side and a long wooden bar the other. The bar attendants, all ladies, seemed welcoming, none pretentious. As we worked our way towards the back to coat check I noticed the diversity amongst the crowd. Latinos come in all colors, shape and sizes and Arka had no problem drawing them all in. Although mostly Dominicans in a predominantly Dominican Neighborhood in the midst of gentrification, it housed an eclectic mix of revelers.

The DJ managed to keep the party goers dancing all night. The atmosphere rubs off on you and you can't help but bounce around to the beat and join in the fun. Although it got a bit crowded our little soiree at no time felt smothered or needed room to breathe. The drinks kept coming and we kept on dancing. The tab was a measly $70 for two guys and a gal and that included three Amaretto Sours, two Long Island Iced Teas, a Madras and a few beers!

To your left and on the opposite side of the bar on a slightly higher plane (about one or two steps higher) are window like partitions with a view to the "very special people". This is the famed new addition to Arka: a heavily guarded VIP area complete with loads of cushion. Now this is clearly the biggest advantage that the VIP section has over the main area. Going to the ladies room or perhaps if you're lucky the men's room is likened to your bathroom experience at a baseball park. The wait is excruciatingly long and at one stall/room at a time you can kiss dancing-to-the-nice-song-that-just-came-on goodbye. It doesn't help either that groups of lady friends go together to powder their noses. The extra chat time in the restroom just makes it even more maddening.

Restroom issues, notwithstanding, Arka has a secure place in the hearts of the WaHi residents and all who come to this happening lounge in Northern Manhattan.

Arka Lounge
4488 Broadway
New York, NY 10040
(212) 567-9425

P.S.Arka hosts different themes during the week from live local performers to weekday happy hour, call in advance before you take the hike.


Blogger solo... said...

Nice blog... It's really a nice review of a place. I can feel the environment, sounds and soul of the place just following the tone of your words...
I was waiting for something like this...


9:19 AM  
Blogger lolafrenetica said...

No he estado ahi despues que abrieron el vip pero es un lugar que frecuento a menudo; lo negativo es lo lleno que aveces se pone que no se puede ni caminar.
but anyway...great post
by the way we're tocayas

2:53 PM  
Blogger lolafrenetica said...

gracias por tu visita, de verdad. lindo comentario

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

el de la foto es tu novio?

9:15 AM  
Blogger Didi said...

no...el esta completamente solo y yo no.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

si el de la foto no es tu novio, no entiendo porque el esta como imagen, bueno ...
Me lo presentas ... ;)

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! » »

12:17 AM  

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