This past Saturday, my husband and I were out late at night and decided to go all the way from the Meatpacking District to the Lower East Side - walking. New York City has always been known as "the city that never sleeps" and in my 13 years here, lights have never, ever gone off. After dark, I find that the city turns into an enhanced dramatic-poetic mishmash of storefronts, neons, street art, performances, police cars, sirens, drunken people and surreal experiences. As we walked south and east, I just took pictures of scenes that inspired me and thought of my favorite late night hang-outs (other than cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, bars, delis, diners and other places that are expected to be open late). Here is my top 10:
1. Gallery Hoping in Chelsea: Although galleries don't stay open that late, a good Thursday of opening shows in the rows of galleries located anywhere from 22nd to 28th street between 10th and 11th avenues, can provide hours of visual, intellectual and cultural ecstasy.
2. IFC Center (323 Sixth Av.): Along with Angelika and Landmark Sunshine Theatre, the IFC Center is one of my favorite movie theatres in NYC. They have late night screening specials called "Waverly Midnights" and a pretty good rotation of new and classic films that start at 12:00 am.
3. Sleep No More (530 West 27th St.): When Punchdrunk opened SNM in NYC in the building that used to host the infamous "Twilo" they did a big marketing campaign to make it all look like it was a 12-week limited engagement. Of course, during those first 12 weeks I went three times since I was so blown away by the whole experience at the McKittrick Hotel. However, it's been more than two years and they are still going strong. Although I feel that some of the magic of this spectacular interactive theatre experience has somehow faded a bit, it will always be a pretty mind boggling experience.
4. The Donut Pub (203 W. 14th St.): This one is such a classic, it makes me happy every time I pass by (or when I bite one of their donuts for that matter). And it's open 24 hours.
5. The Strand (828 Broadway): Books by the yard, anyone? The Strand is a huge, fantastic, magical bookstore that carries old, new, vintage, out-of-print, rare books and more. Their art and design selection is unbelievably good. I just love it and never, ever leave empty-handed.
6. McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince St.): MCJ is a very beautiful bookstore with a cozy literary café and rows of carefully selected books. It is usually open until 10 pm.
7. The Dressing Room (75A Orchard St.): It's a fashion store, yes, but it's also a bar, it offers movie screenings, has guest DJs spinning and stays open really late. Beware of getting drunk while flagging that black Amex, though... I have seen more than one shopping spree ending up in a horrid hangover and an outrageous credit card bill.
8. The Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy): The first Saturday of every month, people can wander the hallways, rooms and expansive installations of the museum while sipping a cocktail, listening to cool DJs tunes and enjoying cultural activities related to the shows until 11:00 pm.
9. Gem Spa (131 2nd Av.) I have never seen this place closed, so maybe it doesn't. Cool design, art, fashion and lifestyle magazines and newspapers from all over the world at any time. What's not to love?
10. Patricia Field (306 Bowery): I don't really know at what time this store closes, but what I do know is that Carrie Bradshaw would have been elated to shop at Pat Field's new emporium. I can literally spend hours here, browsing and trying everything on.