Illegal Speakeasies Are Popping Up in New York Amid Lockdown

Speakeasies are back, and they're actually illegal again

Speakeasy
Speakeasies are back and the whole thing is a lot less fun than we imagined it might be.
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / May 14, 2020 11:24 am

While New York’s trendy, 21st-century speakeasies that kind of defeat the purpose of being speakeasies by advertising themselves as such remain closed indefinitely, actual, illegal speakeasies have reportedly sprung up in their place.

Page Six reports at least two Manhattan establishments have begun serving guests in secret. In typical Page Six fashion, details are scarce, but rumors point to secret speakeasies operating out of an unnamed “famous Upper East Side bar and lounge” as well as a “trendy downtown hotel.” But if you want to get in, you have to know somebody. The exclusive underground bars are reportedly open to “discreet friends of the owners and managers” only.

Rumors of New York’s growing speakeasy culture follow reports of a small, invite-only gathering at the Lower East Side’s Omar’s La Boîte in early May. Earlier this week, a source told the New York Post that the club hosted a secret gathering attended by several lockdown-flouting partiers.

Both the club’s general manager and owner have denied the reports. “We have never had any parties there, that’s not possible,” said general manager Ivan Busheski, while owner Omar Hernandez claimed to be outside the city and unaware of any incident. “We are looking into this distressing report. I’m sheltering outside the city, certainly wasn’t there, and I had no knowledge of any social gathering onsite,” he said in a statement.

Back in April, the NYPD busted what was possibly the first illegal, pandemic-era speakeasy in Brooklyn, reportedly breaking up a gathering of about 12 drinkers and gamblers partying in an unlicensed bar.

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