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  • Jonathan Widran

CLUB BONAFIDE, Where the Jazz Age Meets a New Era

Artfully combining the “hush hush” exclusivity of a classic speakeasy with a vibrant contemporary approach to showcasing an array of today’s hottest music and other curated arts, Club Bonafide – located on the storied 52nd Street in midtown Manhattan – is where the “jazz age” meets a new age of live performances.

Fast becoming an “open secret,” an enigmatic gem that no one officially is aware of yet everyone in the know knows about, the venue offers a beautiful space designed to cultivate intimacy – a lush, retro-minded 75-seat room with state of the art sound and lighting where artists connect profoundly with patrons and patrons forge lasting bonds with each other. True to its name, the venue is a nightly happening, offering a diverse, ever expanding range of authentic music – jazz, Latin, funk, soul, blues, rock, world music and more – in a transformative family-style atmosphere. It’s perfect to bring clients, colleagues and lovers – and the ideal setting to meet new ones! As one regular club-goer astutely observed, “It is a home for REAL ARTISTS and REAL MUSIC in all its forms.”

With one long row of adjoining tables in the center of the room nestled between two bookending rows against the walls in a subtle, red-lit room, Club Bonafide is designed to instantly immerse club-goers in the music, inviting them to be part of the shaping of sound as it lays the foundation for a lively evening. The bands play on the same level as the seating area in the front of the room before a draped backdrop, encouraging a seamless soul connection between musicians and patrons. The separate cocktail area that patrons encounter as they step off the small elevator sports a décor reminiscent of the dark, rich vintage décor of the speakeasy era, with exposed brick and warm sunset dimmed lighting. Bonafide has a full specialized cocktail, wine and beer menu, in addition to a lite-bite menu; it will soon be introducing a full menu.

For proof that Club Bonafide is the most happening and fresh NYC hotspot despite its being “hidden” on the third floor of a non-descript building between a restaurant and hotel (with only small indicator and no official marked entrance), look no further than the recent moments when Sting hopped up from the crowd and joined performers onstage and when Harry Belafonte joined the musicians performing a tribute concert for his 90th birthday. The participation of these and other legends is a testament to how comfortable and at home everyone feels in the room, not simply to perform but also to be in the company with fans as peers.

Club Bonafide was originally conceptualized two years ago by veteran musician Richard Bona and restauranteur Lolo Dantonio, whose aim was to re-create the “Swing Street” era of 52nd Street. Bonafide’s new team of owners are leading the club into a dynamic new era of live performances, drawing on the bustling energy of street life in Midtown that followed the Prohibition Era. Since its launch, the venue has hosted a wide variety of music – and moving forward, the performances will continue to embody the aesthetic of diversity and cultural and theatrical significance. Bonafide is also a wondrous find for those wishing to host signature events, drawing in all that is creative in a space that fosters and supports tastemakers and influencers who want to use music as a draw for audiences. With a backdrop and décor ideally suited to support the dreams and visions of the imaginative, the club has enduring appeal for curated events with art, performance arts and fashion.

Perfectly in line with Club Bonafide’s vibe and connection to NYC’s cultural history, the theme of the club's press party on March 6 was “Prohibition Tuesday.” Guests approaching the unmarked entrance gained access that night using a password. The dynamic retro experience included cocktails served in teacups; bottled beers wrapped in brown paper bags (as they were in the Prohibition era); and performances by artists spanning eras and genres, from Broadway shows to the new age of music. The evening’s headliner FKAjazz - named the New Face of Jazz in the March issue of Downbeat Magazine – was joined by special guest influencers in music Elise Testone (Top 10 finalist on Season 11 of American Idol), Grammy award nominated drummer Daru Jones, and guitarist Marcus Machado, named “The Next Young Gun” by Rolling Stone.

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