Finding a place to dance downtown during the summer can be next to impossible. All the hot spots have lines around the block (thanks TikTok!) and are usually filled with summer interns, those aspiring financial analysts and bankers who have made their annual raid on the city like a swarm of grasshoppers. .
On top of that, the city is notoriously sweaty this time of year. You want me to leave the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment and wait in a deadly damp subway station just to go rub myself against the sweat-soaked backs of strangers on an equally hot dance floor? No thanks.
But some weekends you just can’t fight that dancing feeling. Luckily, there’s a new bar in the East Village worth checking out this summer.
Previously the home of Drexler’s two-level cocktail bar, the Wiggle Room is a two-story dance club and bar on Ave A near the corner of Houston St, the team behind other much-loved establishments from the East Village and the Lower East Side. Mister Paradise, Pretty Ricky’s and Boulton & Watt.
We were lucky enough to experience East Village’s newest nightlife spot. Here are our takeaways:
A casual upstairs bar with insanely strong cocktails
Upon entering the Wiggle Room, you are first greeted by the upstairs bar, a somewhat plain but beautifully designed space with a wood-panelled ceiling and Venetian walls. The muted color scheme is a nice alternative to the bright neon disco bar downstairs (which we’ll get to later) and cements the upper floor as something of a laid-back sanctuary if you need a break from the club.
It also showcases its main bar – a long wraparound bar with chic forest green tiles and matching colorful bar stools. Beyond the stools, there are a few other tables to hang out at (if they’re not busy.) But if they are, the upstairs is big enough to stand and chat comfortably while sipping the rotating selection of draft cocktails from the bar and made-to-order signature cocktails, a list created by beverage director and former Cote bartender Will Krepop.
Get ready to snap a shot because the presentation is why Wiggle Room’s craft cocktails stand out. Martini glasses with exaggerated stems and curved glass tumblers are the fun, Instagram-worthy vessels for uniquely tasting cocktails that have even more unusual names like “hot lava,” “balloon animal dog,” and “a six on the richest scale”.
Of the seven cocktails on offer, I tasted four and found the “hot lava”, a pleasantly spicy and flavorful Tequila Blanco and Ayuuk-based drink with hot honey, toasted sesame and pineapple as my favorite. The espresso martini from the bar comes right after.
Beyond aesthetics and flavor, however, and arguably more importantly, these cocktails pack a real punch – and at $16-$17 a pop, they should!
I’ve had plenty of overpriced cocktails in my day, especially in New York where a $15+ drink is the norm. I’m willing to switch my credit card (if the mood is good), but I usually limit myself to two and then try to upgrade to something more profitable. But at the Wiggle Room, two full cocktails (plus sips of two more) carried me through the night. I was tipsy enough. And ready to dance.
A lively dance floor with funky tunes and a disco ball
The bottom floor of the Wiggle Room is where the commotions happen.
Wavy neon lights and a disco ball tower above the bar’s medium-sized dance floor, and if you can squeeze your way through the crowds, there’s a second, smaller bar at the back.
The Wiggle Room plays a fine selection of funk, disco, soul and house tracks created by a weekly rotation of notable and up-and-coming DJs. On a warm Friday night, the dance floor was packed by the time I got there around midnight, with patrons moving and grooving under the colorful disco lights. And despite the full dance floor, I found myself dancing comfortably. Largely because…
The music bangs and the air conditioning pumps
I can safely say that the Wiggle Room has been the chilliest bar/club I’ve been to in recent memory. It might be an odd detail to note, but my friends and I thought it was an essential part of our experience. We’re used to sweating profusely in dark, confined spaces that are short on air conditioning, so we notice and appreciate a continuous breath of cool air.
I would recommend visiting the Wiggle Room soon (before the summer interns discover it). Grab a few cocktails (or as many as you can) from the upstairs bar and make sure you don’t talk before you go downstairs. Then, dance the night away on the coolest dance floor in town, literally.
This article was published in the InsideHook NY newsletter. Register now to learn more about the five boroughs.