Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Old Duplex

Photographer Efrain Gonzalez shares with us some of his 1979 photos of The Duplex, back "when it was a tiny little bar on Grove Street."

The original Duplex was at 55 Grove from about 1951 until 1989, when it moved to its current location on Christopher. Joan Rivers and Woody Allen got their starts there--and it was loaded with aspiring singers.

(the limp wrist, another of the vanished)

Gonzalez recalls how "each night it would fill with young kids who had dreams of singing on Broadway. So much young talent in a tiny, seedy bar. It was so beautiful to be there and enjoy all that talent for the price of a beer. And who could forget Ruby Rims?"

(Ruby is still out there--watch this documentary on the local personality--and with a Facebook page, no less.)

As for 55 Grove Street, after The Duplex left it became Rose's Turn, another beloved piano bar. Then, after 56 years of providing a space for singers and comedians to launch their careers, or to simply be heard, it shuttered.

Today it's the office of interior design firm S.R. Gambrel, whom Town & Country called "the darling of young Wall Streeters...the go-to decorator for a great many of today's young titans of finance and technology."

Efrain's Underground New York


Bogframe said...

The second photo is the legendary Sal Piro, one of the two people responsible for the Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Participation phenomenon back in the late 1970s which is till going strong almost 40 years later!

Anonymous said...

Well we all know the bottom 2 pictures are me and Karen doing DONT CRY FOR ME NEWARK NEW JERSEY.That picture was taken around 1981 I had Blondel hair.I wanted to be Better Misled in The Rose.Rob and Erg bought The Duplex in 1978 before that it was owned by JohnHealey.

Carol Gardens said...

I spent many weekend night here with the drama kids from my Long Island high school. Can't count how many times I heard "You Gotta Get a Gimmick".

tinman11201 said...

I hung out there every Wed. and Thurs. night in early 1984 when I first moved to NYC. getting to enjoy the talents of Michael Orland on piano (now of American Idol Fame) and Amy Ryder, Celeste, Terry White, Rainie Cole Timmy Moore on Thursday nights at the piano who be came my accompanist and musical director for a short time. So many fond memories of my times there.

Chris said...

The original Duplex was more than just "a tiny little bar on Grove Street". The Duplex had two levels (as its name implies). As you entered from Grove Street, a short flight of steps led down to the bar, which had a low ceiling and posters on the walls; alternatively you could turn up some steps to the cabaret room, which was directly over the bar. This upstairs room had small tables and chairs set close together, a small bar on one side, and a low stage with a piano. The maximum audience was 54. I did a show there in November 1988, accompanying a singer. I know it's said that Woody Allen got his start at The Duplex, but I wonder if he was down in the bar or doing a one-man show in the cabaret room upstairs? It would be nice to know...