In CBGB’s Basement, A Venue Rises

ExtraPlaceNYC_4Jamie Newman The stage at Extra Place, a venue located in the basement of what was once C.B.G.B.

The burgeoning private-event and music space Extra Place — known to those in the know as EP — has already hosted hot ticket events. Designer John Varvatos celebrated his 10th year in fashion with a party here. “Oakazine,” the edgy design and fashion magazine, held a new issue release event. The CMJ music festival programmed performances on the Extra Place stage. Situated in what was the basement of legendary rock club CBGB (the John Varvatos store occupies the main part of the former CBGB space upstairs), Extra Place by the Max’s Kansas City Company is quickly declaring itself a destination for New York’s entertainment elite.

“We’re striving to re-create the wildness and the lifestyle that the old CBGB space used to breed,” Brett Kincaid, the venue’s manager, told The Local. “We want to recapture that time period and all of the revelry that comes with it, but add a modern twist, some relevancy.”

The venue’s main entrance is in the eponymous Extra Place alley which runs off East First Street, parallel to the Bowery. The graffitti’d steel door marked inconspicuously by a lone red light reveals the venue’s true colors. EP’s interpretation of our generation’s cultural interests seems more decadent than anything else: enormous crimson-hued photos of barely clothed (if at all) women line the walls, and the stage that serves as the room’s centerpiece is bordered by slick black leather banquettes. A free-standing silver bar and red finished cement floor create a vibe that isn’t far from one you might have perceived at the old CBGB.

There is no pretense of chic here — the venue seems almost bawdy, as though striving to cater to those whose are interested primarily in bacchanalian debauchery, desiring a space in which to find liberation from the pressures of societal norms. EP leaks upstairs into the Morrison Hotel Gallery for some events; this facet of the venue appeals to the more demure, haute crowd.

ExtraPlaceNYC_2Jamie Newman Events at Extra Place run the gamut: scheduled events include corporate holiday parties, birthday celebrations and rock concerts.

Perhaps it is this very juxtaposition that has made EP so attractive to a wide-ranging clientele since its opening in January — indeed, its upcoming parties run the gamut in both scale and genre: corporate holiday parties are sandwiched between extravagant birthday celebrations and rock concerts. The combination feels appropriately contradictory. “We want to be unique, and I think we are,” says Mr. Kincaid. “Nowhere else in the East Village, or, for that matter, in the city, can you find such a unique combination of haute high-fashion and musical integrity in the same space.”

If EP’s recent happenings at all portend the venue’s future, it is to be filled with obdurate rockers-and-rollers and Varvatos-clad martini drinkers. Only time — and perhaps a few more indulgent nights — will tell if Extra Place can match the history of its predecessor.