SUNFLOWER POWER: New York band Sunflower Bean’s July 20 gig was the first show at the new Knitting Factory New York – Baker Falls, in the building formerly known as the famed Pyramid Club in Manhattan’s East Village. (Lucas Hoeffel)
New Club Takes Space Once Filled By East Village Mainstay
Nick Bodor dreamed of returning to the East Village. The New York City neighborhood always felt like home, and he envisioned one day having an iconic venue of his own within it. So, when the opportunity to move into the famed Pyramid Club presented itself, Bodor jumped at it.
“I’m an East Village guy,” said Bodor, a New York hospitality entrepreneur known for venues including the Cake Shop music club. “The performance scene, the music scene, the dance scene and the creativity in the East Village has always been inspirational to me. And then, I heard that the Pyramid Club was closing, so I was like, ‘Who owns it? Who owns it? I have to get to them. I have to talk to them about getting this location if it’s available.’ So, I had some friend’s real estate agent do detective work and track down the owner.”
Knitting Factory was also on the hunt for a new location in New York City. The venue shut down its Williamsburg location in September 2022 and intended to return to Manhattan. And so, Bodor and Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis teamed up to return live music to the iconic 298-capacity club, now known as Knitting Factory New York at Baker Falls.
“The space is a little smaller, but it’s an iconic space,” Margolis said. “Nick had found the space, he had been working the lease deal, and he put this all together. We just came in as it was moving along, financially backed him then co-branded together.” Knitting Factory New York Baker Falls opened July 20 with New York band Sunflower Bean. Upcoming shows including Cumgirl8, Les Savy Fav and Marnie Stern, and others.
The Pyramid Club was a mainstay in the East Village. Throughout its heyday, it served as a club for the LGBTQ+ community, hosting drag performances throughout the ‘80s, and RuPaul gave his first performance at the venue. Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers both performed their first NYC concerts at the venue.
“I moved to the neighborhood in ‘92, but I’d been coming here since the ‘80s,” said Bodor, who will serve as managing partner and creative director at Baker Falls. “I would come to the golf nights at Pyramid, I would come to the performance nights… It was this very cool scene that the Pyramid was doing. And you’d have Nirvana playing, and GWAR was here and these bands in addition to these wild LGBTQ+ performances.”
The space will continue to honor the venue’s history, as well as Knitting Factory’s former New York City locations. The venue will also feature a smaller club called Fever Dream, where Bodor hopes to recreate some of the magic found in the original Pyramid Club.
The building’s interior has undergone extensive renovation, with improved staging and upgraded audio-visual production. Project cost was undisclosed.
“I always liked the idea of Max in Kansas City, but without all the drugs,” Bodor says. “Where you have a 25-year-old artist like Basquiat hanging out with a 45-year-old art dealer with a 65-year-old cool attorney, and everybody’s sitting at a table together. That almost never happens in New York life anymore. I want it to be a place where, even though it seems like a bygone era, a band gets signed in the Fever Dream lounge downstairs.”
Knitting Factory will be taking the lead booking the venue while Bodor will curate specialty programing, events and neighborhood-friendly shows.
“We’re trying to curate a special place,” Margolis says. “We’re trying to make it a special, comfortable hangout space. Not obnoxious. It’s to the old times of a cool hangout bar and music.”
Returning to the East Village is personal for both Bodor and Margolis. Bodor has lived in the neighborhood for three decades, while Margolis grew up nearby. To bring Knitting Factory back to the East Village, and to have the venue take over the former Pyramid Club, “just felt right,” according to Margolis.
“We’re really thrilled to be back in the area and working with Nick,” Margolis says. “Cake Shop and Knitting Factory tied together, trying to curate a wonderful space, I hope it works out. Nick’s on the ground, my talent buyers in Brooklyn are on the ground buying. He’s the same buyer we have for North Hollywood, James Irving and Carson Ehlert. Those guys are all working really hard to curate a space… I’m just excited to be back in the area and open up a new space that caters to the community.”