Flashback: Art After Hours

A review of Man Ray nightclub
By ROBIN VAUGHN  |  March 25, 2010

Photo: Derek Kouyoumjian

This article originally appeared in the April 2, 1985 issue of the Boston Phoenix

There’s no shortage of nightclubs and bars in Boston, but the sheer magnitude of offerings has been no guarantee of quality. Between the scruffy rock clubs, gay discos, and often pretentious singles bars, there hasn’t been much of a middle ground. Cambridge’s newest night spot, Man Ray, opened last week with the intention of bridging the gap between Boston’s spectrum of gay, straight, youth-cult, and yuppie bars. How the concept plays remains to be seen, but the management’s heart is in the right place. 

 Although Man Ray’s basement tunnel connects it with Campus (a men’s bar next door), and both clubs, as well as the Marquee (a gay bar), are owned by Don Holland, Man Ray’s management does not identify the club as “gay.” “The New York clubs aren’t segregated according to ‘straight’ and ‘gay,’” explains club manager Bruce Jopes. “This type of place doesn’t have to be.” But though Jopes says Man Ray is “into mixing people,” he adds that “you can’t mix attitudes.” The only ones he hopes to exclude from man Ray’s patronage, he says, are “people with problems.” According to the club’s written manifesto, “The Art of Nightlife,” “All nocturnal people are welcome here…young and old, straight and gay.” 

Man Ray’s eclecticism extends further than the range of ages and sexual preferences of its patrons. The one label it will apply to itself is “art bar”; every month a new exhibit of photographs, paintings, or sculpture is on display (currently, a collection of black-and-white photographs by Stephen Stone is being shown, and the club sponsors live-performance and video works as well). Its management claims it will book “all kinds” of music acts and performance artists and feature local as well as commercial productions on its large video monitor. “We’re open to any kind of conceptual thing,” says Jopes.

"All of this will serve to enhance the club’s already inviting decor. Man Ray is a good-looking place. The bar itself and the cocktail tables are hand painted with a geometric postmodern design; a wall rack near the art exhibit offers a selection of slick European magazines such as L’Uomo and Moda, as well as domestic fare like Interview and the Village Voice. In the spirit of the club’s name, the interior of Man Ray includes surrealistic details: a mannequin of a rearing, fangsbared Doberman greets visitors in the front lobby, and a full-scale jungle gym, complete with swing, pull-up chains , and a baby doll perched high sits in one corner of the bar. The interior design and motif will change about every three months, says Jopes, “like Area, but not so dramatic.” 

Note: Man Ray's Web site proclaims the club will be "rising from the ashes" this summer

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