The Pyramid Club, an iconic queer venue that helped escalate legendary drag performers like RuPaul and Lady Bunny, is shuttering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more than 41 years, the venue at 101 Avenue A in Manhattan’s East Village served as a historical mecca for drag culture, including the start of Wigstock, an annual outdoor drag festival that began in the 1980s. Since the start of the pandemic, the club has been closed, and it will not resume operations, the venue’s managers, Maria Narciso and Quirino Perez, or house DJ TM.8, announced earlier this month.
“We are another sad consequence of Covid-19,” the club’s managers wrote in an Instagram post April 1. “Our number one priority has always been to provide a safe environment for everyone to be who they truly are.”
The club’s closing is still shocking for the venue’s managers.
“We’ve patiently waited for over a year, and we never thought that we’d permanently close,” the club added. “Our hearts go to YOU, our community, who’ve kept us going over these past 41 years, as well as other nightclubs, live music venues, and theaters, businesses that, like us, have suffered the most from this “Pause” and are facing our very same predicament.”
Since opening in 1979, the club has become a popular and even historic fixture within New York’s LGBTQ nightlife scene. In October 2007, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation proposed that the venue become the city’s first drag landmark.
“Historically, the Pyramid Club was one of the great LGBTQ gathering spots,” Andrew Berman, an out gay executive director at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told Gay City News. “That’s the heyday of New York City nightlife. The Pyramid Club somehow, in some form, hung on. Its loss is noteworthy.”
While the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declined the proposal, in 2012, the Pyramid Club garnered landmark status as part of the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District.
“We fought very hard to get them to extend those boundaries to include that building specifically because of the club’s history and cultural significance,” Berman recalled, noting that the city’s original plans excluded the venue. “This was also a great watershed moment in recognizing the importance that the LGBT community has played to New York and American history, especially to the role of drag performers and transgender people to the cultural lifeblood of our city.”
Berman, a former partygoer at the club, said the venue had left a lasting mark on LGBTQ nightlife.
“It was the perfect combination of a place that was just a total blast,” Berman told Gay City News. “It was where conceptions about gender and sexuality and who’s the audience and who’s the performer were radically challenged.”
He added, “Even though the Pyramid Club was not the Pyramid Club of 40 years ago, having that last connection severed is a sad occasion.”
While the Pyramid Club will not return to the East Village, the venue’s managers told EV Grieve, a blog that first reported the closure, that they have found a new home for DJ TM.8’s events and will announce the details in the coming weeks.
“We will continue to take you back to the 80s!” the club’s managers wrote. “The Pyramid Spirit Lives On!! We’ve done all we can. It’s time to turn the page and carry on.”
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