Sin Sin Lounge Was Source of Solace

Chaz KangasChaz Kangas.

Last week, The Local confirmed reports that the Sin Sin lounge would be closing at the end of the month and revising its format. Sin Sin, the scene of a fatal shooting in August, has been a source of complaints about noise and violence in the neighborhood. Chaz Kangas, a frequent patron of Sin Sin, offers his perspective on the club and its closing.

The absolute safest, most welcome and happiest I’ve ever felt in my adult life was at a bar in the East Village called Sin Sin. It’s a spot I’ve been loyally attending for almost five years. It’s where I’ve brought close friends, classmates, dates, co-workers and visitors, and they’ve all been given a lasting memory that will stay with them the rest of their lives. The end of October will see its doors close permanently, and in a climate where New York’s landscape is changing more than ever, I feel like I’m losing another connection to what first made me fall in love with the city. This is what Sin Sin means to me.

I began attending the club during my sophomore year of college in November 2005. I had always heard about their “Freestyle Mondays” Hip-Hop open mic since even before I had moved to the city a year prior. Word-of-mouth around the NYU campus was that it was next-to-impossible to get into. It wasn’t until the evening’s host iLLspokinN extended an invitation to me after he heard me rap at an NYU event that – after promising not order from the bar until I turned 21 – I made my Sin Sin debut. Stepping into that dim red room with a live band reinterpreting classic rap instrumentals next to a lineup of MCs eager to perform awakened a feeling inside me that was as exciting as it was validating. Here was a room full of people, whether performers or listeners, who felt the exact same passion that I did, and they’d been meeting there for the past four years for the same reason – the love of rap music.

The vibe of Freestyle Mondays at Sin Sin would remain the same from its 11:30 start-time until the lights came on at 3:30. I began attending every Monday and, after I moved to the East Village, would often stop by there to cap off other nights for its pleasant feeling of familiarity. Over the years, its accessibility and safe, comfortable atmosphere has allowed me to take countless friends, acquaintances and associates to Sin Sin for their first rap show. As a child I was always taught the importance of including others in things I loved and my time at Sin Sin was the adult realization of that virtue. More importantly, my experiences under those red lights really shaped me as a person. Most of the close friends I’ve ever had in the city, some who’ve moved away and even some no longer with us, have stepped through those doors. While Freestyle Mondays will continue and thrive at another location, the East Village will have lost a historic and important venue for young artists.

Chaz Kangas is a resident of East Harlem. He blogs at