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Emerging from our darkened cocoons into the daylight like starved zombies searching for the sun, all of us involved with the New York City nightlife and the LGBTQ community are glad to find the Monster still there and opened for business (with outdoor seating and ideas percolating for future fun).

The Monster has been a primary source of energy in the community for what seems like forever. Located in the illuminated tapestry of the historic West Village amidst the crudely macadamized grey cement streets, the Monster has always added a burst of color and life to the celebration of a strong and diverse community.

I shared questions and answers with owner Charlie Rice regarding future plans, events and parties …..and hope.

First of all, welcome back! For those that have not been to NYC or to the Monster, can you fill our readers in with the history of the club?
During the past 40 years, the Monster has been a staple through good times, crises and now a pandemic. Gathering around the piano, ponying up to the bar or dancing the night away in the disco, our community has come here to connect, to laugh, to celebrate and even to mourn. These countless collective experiences are what make our LGBTQ community so strong and are among the reasons so many people have called the Monster home over the years. Our successes here in the historic West Village are tied directly to the past, when the Monster played its role in uniting our communities in both Fire Island and Key West under the vision of our original owner, Joseph Scialo. In these current times of injustice and uncertainty, we lean on the lessons of the past to guide us through the ever evolving future.

What can we look forward to in the near future from the Monster?
The future remains uncertain for all of us, and it is nearly impossible to plan very far ahead. However, we continue to dream and dream big! We have had to reinvent norms, like all businesses citywide have done, to stay afloat. What used to be standard is not possible or allowed, and even when we open our doors, we anticipate restrictions from the government for months ahead. Reimagining a disco during a pandemic is a challenge that we’re eagerly tackling one day at a time. One thing for certain is that the Monster you know and love may appear different the first time you enter after all these months, but the spirit of our cherished establishment remains strong and determined.

Is there anything that you’d like to say to your patrons and
to the LGBTQ community?
We have been humbled by the support of our loyal customers and the determination to stay open by our incredibly hard working staff. Our business, not unlike our neighbors, is in survival mode. The landscape of gay nightlife has already seen the unfortunate permanent closures of some of our iconic safe spaces. We need the support of our patrons, our community, and our government now more than ever. Support your local gay businesses. Buy that extra round for your friends and tip your servers a little extra, if you can. We’re not out of the woods yet, so help us by doing your part to follow all the new guidelines–even when that includes ordering food we all know you’re probably not going to want to eat! Staying in compliance is the name of the game and the powers that be aren’t afraid to snatch our liquor licenses if we don’t follow the new rules to a tee.

Monster has teamed up with the promoters of SPUNK. Are there a few surprise shows on the weekends?
Dan Tobey and Luis Gomez, owners of the long running SPUNK parties have stepped into a larger management role and will continue to help with the challenges we have ahead. They are formulating and executing their vision of the Monster’s future. This vision will include some exciting transformations in our shows and events and even the layout of the bar itself, as we attempt to utilize whatever space we can to keep in line with capacity regulations and social distancing. In the meantime, several of the SPUNK dancers and crew have stepped up to the job of waiting tables, and you never know who might stop by. For a while we featured “Live From An Empty Disco” Instagram shows hosted by Holly Dae and featuring some of our favorite drag personalities like Brenda Dharling, Bootsie LeFaris, Anita D, Jasmin Van Wales and the legendary Lady Bunny during the unofficial Pride weekend. September is sure to be full of more surprises.

What are your current hours of operation?
Monday to Thursday 4PM-10PM and Friday – Sunday 3PM-11PM. We hope you’ll stop by to experience the newest version of the Monster under the stars in the heart of Sheridan Square.

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Eileen Shapiro
Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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