The Sounds of SoHo
Sing your heart out at karaoke, dance during Wayback Wednesdays and Fuego Fridays, sip cocktails to live jazz, be among the first to hear cutting-edge musical compositions: SoHo offers myriad tuneful options.
41 Mercer Street (between Grand and Broome Streets)
Every night is jazz night at Antique Garage, a soigné restaurant serving Mediterranean food. Live performances begin every evening at seven. Gospel-influenced vocalist Kenny Allan Smith, sax and clarinet player Graeme Norris, and Latin jazz pianist Felipe Viegas are among the recent performers. While the music feeds your soul, you can feed your belly with small plates such as eggplant salad and feta-stuffed phyllo or entrees including baby lamb chops and grilled salmon. On weekends from 11:30 a.m. you can enjoy live jazz with brunch as well.
161 Lafayette Street (at Grand Street)
At Baby Grand, the emphasis is on the “baby”: This karaoke bar is so petite, you are advised to email ahead of time if you plan to attend with a group of more than six people. If you want to sit at one of the dozen or so barstools, arrive as the bar opens (six o’clock on weeknights and seven p.m. on weekends); otherwise it is standing room only. The cozy quarters, however, are a plus for more-bashful singers, and the large songbook is sure to have something for everyone.
Eight Thompson Street (between Canal and Grand Streets)
Larger than Baby Grand, BINY (short for Best in New York) Karaoke has three private rooms as well as the main lounge. Given that karaoke began in Japan, it is appropriate that BINY is a Japanese restaurant as well as a bar, with a full menu of sushi, sashimi, and teriyaki, along with sake should you need some liquid courage before you take the stage.
310 West Broadway (between Canal and Grand Streets)
Located on the second floor of the Soho Grand Hotel, the Club Room looks like the stylish offspring of a British gentleman’s club and a Parisian Belle Époque cabaret. The lounge’s musical calendar displays the same juxtaposition of low-key and high energy. Resident pianist Yosef Munro plays jazz most evenings beginning at seven. At 10 p.m., however, deejays such as Niara Sterling and Angel + Dren hit the decks so that you can hit the dance floor.
145 Sixth Avenue (at Dominick Street)
Here produces a variety of live entertainment: dramas, musicals, concerts, dance performances, multimedia events. Its productions have won 16 Obie Awards so far, and it developed “The Vagina Monologues,” among other works. Recent performances included “Cannabis!,” an exploration of the history of marijuana performed by hip-hop fusion band Soul Inscribed, and “Songs of Sanctuary for the Black Madonna,” a choral and chamber orchestral work-in-progress by Imani Uzuri. May 23-25, Brooklyn-based Cantata Profana will perform “Lucretia,” an interpretation of Handel’s cantata “La Lucrezia” that also incorporates works by Benjamin Britten and Joan Baez, among others.
114 Kenmare Street (at Lafayette Street)
A taquería, a café, and a brasserie, La Equina offers plenty of options to sate your craving for genuine Mexican food. It also provides plenty of opportunities to burn off the tacos, quesadillas, and bistecs you may have consumed, courtesy of its nightly deejays. King Cut, Izm, and Marc Montoya are among those who have recently spun dance tunes here.
94 West Houston Street (between LaGuardia Place and Thompson Street)
Part of the main bar area at Madame X. Image: Madame X
Madame X describes itself as “the sexiest bar in New York City,” and the interior has a definite bordello aesthetic that sometimes seems at odds with the music being spun by its deejays. Wayback Wednesdays, for instance, feature music from the 1990s and the early 2000s. Soca, hip-hop, and R&B can be heard during the Cool Island Breeze nights, on the first and third Thursdays of every month, and you can move to Latin music during Fuego Fridays. Other upcoming highlights include the Court of Lazarus on May 19, with Sean Templar spinning goth and darkwave music and Unto Ashes performing live.