Trash Bar, the Williamsburg rock & roll venue known for its fabled tater-tot machine and unforgiving odor, is formally closing its doors this weekend due to its quintupled rent, but not without a bang. Trash’s last set will take place this Saturday, and according to a post on its Facebook page, you won’t want to “miss out on what’s sure to be an epic and chaotic night.”
“Epic” and “chaotic” are also two apt ways to describe Trash’s place in the history of north Brooklyn’s night life scene. In an earlier interview we conducted with two of its bartenders, Maurice Johnson and Nick Baron, an atmosphere of uninhibited fun and weird, freaky antics were described. “How many times have we said ‘Only at Trash Bar,'” says Baron, after describing a show where an unknown band’s frontman stripped naked and touched himself onstage. Baron says bands have often told him that Trash “allowed us to do things,” that would have never been allowed at other clubs.
And the bar has encouraged this crazy behavior for a long time. Trash’s owner Aaron Pierce recalls a time when bars, restaurants and condo developments weren’t jacking up real estate costs in Williamsburg. “We were the second or third liquor license on Grand Street. I think there are over 30 liquor licenses on Grand Street now,” he says.
But as the neighborhood around it changed, developed and gradually pushed creative-types further away, Trash remained a communal hub for them.
“I think over time we’ve created an amazing community of artists, it’s very communal and very co-supportive. [As] the area gentrifies and [as] New York City at large is sort of pushing out creatives to make way for professionals, you get this more cohesive and strong connection between the creatives that decide to stick out and stay in New York regardless of what’s happening,” he says.
That cohesive mentality has stuck with Trash over the eleven years of its existence. Baron in particular will miss the original Trash Bar and how it allowed different bands to perform however they wanted. “That’s the sad thing when this place goes, because it’s not that easy for bands to do that. Because bands can customize their own shows here,” he says.
Justine MacMahon, another Trash employee, says the bar’s staff has always been a tight-knit unit. “I’ve worked in many bars, but at Trash Bar it’s always been a family, the employees act like a family, we all hang out outside of work. During work it’s not even like work, because it’s always like a party,” she says.
And even though they’re moving, Pierce is certain a similar atmosphere can be fostered in Bushwick.
“I think that this sort of thing can be redeveloped and re-created in another community that’s a replica of late 90s-earlier 2000s Williamsburg, which is, you know, Bushwick,” he says.
There will be a waiting period before Trash re-opens, and it’s unclear if it will even carry the same name at a new location. A guaranteed certainty however, is the unfettered debauchery that will ensue from Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning for the bar’s farewell party.
McMahon says the bar is opening at 2pm on Saturday, as opposed to its usual time of 5pm. There will be mimosas served, in addition to free beer sponsored by Blue Point, Goose Island and Bud Light from 3-4pm. It sounds like an occasion where not getting drunk will be a challenge.
“We have a lot of booze we need to get rid of,” McMahon says.
Trash Bar is located—for one more day—at 256 Grand Street, Williamsburg.
The article had erroneously named Justine McMahon as the booking agent of Trash Bar; it’s since been amended, but it’s worth pointing out that Trash Bar’s actual booking manager is Walt Stack, who was described to us as having “been booking the Trash Bar for the last nine years and [who] is a very large part of the attitude and style of the bands and music that have come through.”
Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster