ManRay Rises from the Dead

By SCOTT KEARNAN  |  January 25, 2013


If you missed out on ManRay — well, you really missed out. From 1985 to 2005, the Central Square club defined underground nightlife. Pre–Fifty Shades fetish fans, glamorous goths, edgy gay crowds, and fabulous freaks of all stripes harmoniously commingled on ManRay’s crowded dance floors, around its weathered pool tables, and, of course, in its charmingly dank bathrooms.
“ManRay was a meeting place, an anchor,” says Chris Ewen, its longtime resident DJ, who now leads the Heroes new-wave night at T.T. the Bear’s Place. “The scene has since splintered.” He’s cautiously optimistic about rumors that ManRay will soon reopen as a smaller club/restaurant. In the meanwhile, Ewen and beloved first-name-basis bartender Terri (okay, her last name is Niedzwiecki) have organized a ManRay reunion party for Friday, February 1, at Brighton Music Hall. Don’t expect a nostalgia fest. Yes, the music will nod to ManRay’s former formats, from the industrial of Crypt, its goth party, to the electro-dance of Campus, its gay night. But the Reunion will also feature live dancers, a fashion show, and photography displays that spotlight what ManRay’s creative alumni are up to today. “So many artists and musicians came out of that scene,” says Ewen. “They’re still doing exciting stuff now.”

Spanks for the Memories
We asked Ewen to pick some music that most reminds him of the ManRay experience. “This list looks ‘safe’ these days,” he says. “But at the time, these were radically different than what was being played in other venues.”

Massive Attack, "Teardrop"
“Long before it became an international hit, I started playing it because Elizabeth Fraser's voice gave it ‘goth gravitas.’ The slow, sexy beat made people dance in beautiful ways. It still sounds fresh and timeless.”

D.D.T., "Vogue"
“ManRay stalwarts Noel, Elaine, and Lisa became one of Boston's most beloved industrial bands. . . . D.D.T. took this Madonna song and transformed it into something that transcended both genres of industrial and pop.”

Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
“This album changed the face of industrial music, and close to every song on it was played at ManRay, on all of our nights.”

Nitzer Ebb, "Join in the Chant"
“It still brings to mind a full dance floor of people doing an energetic dance I affectionately dubbed the ‘Nordic Track.’ Imagine the exercise on that machine, speed it up — and there you go.”

Peter Murphy, "I'll Fall with Your Knife"
“This one always elicited the most emotional response. Couples who met at ManRay have told me this is ‘their song.’ ”

Cristina, "Is That All There Is?"
“An extremely irreverent take on the Peggy Lee classic, with radically altered lyrics and an off-kilter carnival feel. The last song I played at ManRay.”

Bloodsucking It Down
Need a cocktail as dark as the nightlife? You’re in luck: Terri shared a recipe for the Vampire, her signature drink, which she says was “as close as I could get to black without using Jäger.”  

1. Take one ounce of raspberry vodka.
2. Add one ounce of Chambord.
3. Add a dash of Blue Curaçao.
4. Finish with cranberry juice. Give it a good shake and enjoy.

ManRay Reunion @ Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Avenue, Allston ::  Doors at 8 pm :: $12

Related: Creating sound collages with The Hood Internet, The dark romantic transformation of Zola Jesus, Photos: Parlour Bells, Garvy J, and The Dears at Brighton Music Hall, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Music, Chris Ewen, Chris Ewen,  More more >
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