Date: Fri Feb 25
Place: Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave
Time: 11 pm

It's natural to enter the Rendezvous and feel a bit nostalgic for its previous, more dilapidated incarnation. Between blue-haired bartender Dodi, the 8:00 a.m. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the preponderance of shady characters circulating between the lobby and the Jewelbox Theater within, it was easy to romanticize the bar's sketchy, kitschy charm. Conversely, it was easy to resent its transformation into a chic lounge with rich red walls and curvy, high-backed booths. Over time, I've come to accept the conversion, but it's hard to let go of what used to be one of my favorite dives. As we enter tonight, the bar is packed with the crowd spilling out of Dina Martina's closing performance, so we head toward the private party downstairs. The previous descriptions I've heard of the subterranean space were less than flattering, so I was pleasantly surprised to walk into the beautifully refurbished speakeasy room below. Warm orange walls and arched entryways lead us past a small, circular bar and into the DJ room and dance floor, where a flush-faced crowd was celebrating joint birthdays. One assertive reveler demands that the DJ "mix it, mix it now!" as the last notes of a B-52s song segues into Smoosh. I recognize a wall hanging depicting the silhouette of a dog from the old OK Hotel, one of many club "antiques" that decorate the cavernous space and give a reassuring nod to the past. The dance floor is getting pretty hilarious--one Andy Warhol look-alike is wiggling like mad to "Milkshake" and another guy in a Death from Above shirt is trying futilely to cut a sexy rug. When the crowd launches into the requisite sloppy version of "Happy Birthday," one happy girl smashes her beer bottle with glee and I make my way out the door, feeling more optimistic than nostalgic. HANNAH LEVIN

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