Category: Archive

Adams bash adds to venue’s colorful history

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Madonna has recorded one of her sexy videos in the place. Word has it was once owned by Al Capone. It has served as a location for the TV show "Law and Order." Transvestite parties are a staple. Near-naked trapeze artists have been spotted in the rafters. And, according to a story in New York magazine, Webster Hall in Manhattan’s East Village area is a place where Saturday night’s all right for fightin’.

And Gerry Adams is set to celebrate 50 golden years in the place on Saturday night, Oct. 17.

The famed 11th Street venue — New York’s original bohemian night spot with a history dating back more than 100 years — has been hired by Friends of Sinn Féin for three hours beginning at 7 p.m.

The bash is one of a number of public events organized for Adams, who begins a fundraising tour in Pittsburgh on Monday, Oct. 12.

Other cities on the Adams itinerary are Albany, Philadelphia, Fairfield, Conn., and Boston.

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A highlight of the tour will be a $500-per-person dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York on Wednesday, Oct. 14. The dinner is being co-hosted by Structure Tone CEO Pat Donaghy, AOH National President Thomas Gilligan and Al Smith V.

Adams will brief diners on the new Northern Ireland Assembly during the Plaza gathering.

Adams is familiar by now with the Plaza’s gilded opulence but Webster Hall promises to be a novel night out for a man frequently portrayed as being quite religious.

The original Webster Hall, according to publicity a blurb released by the owning Ballinger family of Toronto, dates back to 1886. In subsequent years the lavish costume balls in aid of various political causes laid the foundation for Greenwich Village’s reputation as a district where just about anything goes.

The hall is used for multiple purposes, including premieres, benefits, musical performances and as a film location. The Chieftains have performed in Webster Hall, while it is often selected for corporate parties. Clients have included American Express, Chase Manhattan, Christian Dior and People Magazine.

One of the "Special Events" listed in the publicity package is "President Clinton & Vice President Gore’s Campaign Kick off in N.Y.C."

The location shoots include Madonna’s "Pajama Party" video for MTV while premieres at the hall include "Independence Day," "Dazed and Confused," Savage Nights" and "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

However, a report in New York magazine’s Oct. 5 edition portrays Webster Hall as a club where high living sometimes mixes with low-life behavior.

The report, arising from a brawl between police officers attending a bachelor party and bouncers began thus: "Saturday nights at Webster Hall are predictable enough. A few hundred people pack East 11th Street by the nightclub’s entrance, waiting to get patted down for guns, knives and drugs, then get drunk and throw up on the neighbors’ cars. And around 2 a.m. there’s usually a street fight. The Ninth Precinct cops routinely bust it up with a siren."

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