DC-Ya: Beloved Hoboken Tavern Tapping Out
(ABOVE: photo by River Clark, artwork by Ocean Clark)
Hoboken has a lot of bars. A lot of those bars have a lot of similarities to a lot of other bars.
DC’s Tavern does not.
Located well off the beaten path at 505 8th Street, DC’s has stood for nearly two decades with its middle finger conspicuously extended, as the entire city around it gradually morphed into a homogenized upscale enclave. While recent rumors have swirled, hMAG has been able to confirm that DC’s is in fact going dark at some point over the next few weeks. According to sources, the liquor license has been sold to an Italian restaurant on Washington Street.
The cozy room on the back end of town is, “the closest approximation to your cool uncle’s 1979 basement in bar form,” says Mike Cimicata (DJ Mike C), who will be playing his final gig there this Friday. “DC’s is in a class of its own. If you know, you know.”
Evolving into an impressive collection over the years, the room itself was an esoteric collage of absurdist objet d’art. The centerpiece of the establishment has always been the pool table, followed closely by the jukebox. The bar itself is about as straightforward as they come—a few taps, a few bottles, a few cans, and no frills.
Poking fun at the proliferation of bro culture in what was once an edgy artistic community, DC’s infamously advertises that it will charge patrons extra for ordering a “Bud Heavy” or shot of “Jame-O.” The bar has attracted a wide variety of customers—blue-collar, white-collar, flannel-collar, studded-leather-collar. Some people saw the joint as a quirky little novelty, others saw it as a beloved beacon amidst Hoboken’s ongoing identity crisis.
Many others just saw it as home.
“My shift was the First Thursday of every month, featuring Pat Longo DJing the best vinyl records you probably never heard,” recalls bartender Brian Daly. “His legendary NYC and JC stories of punk’s sordid past of mayhem and characters made an experience I looked forward to every month for the past 6 years. DC’s was that dimly lit basement with a comfortable, patchwork couch that you could sink into, surrounded by friends, immersed in tales and laughter. I will miss those moments.”
According to longtime bartender Bill Moylan, it’s a decision that has been coming for a long time. “It’s nearly happened a few times,” he tells hMAG. “This time, it’s actually going through.”
As small a room as it is, the absence of DC’s will leave a significant hole in the Hoboken hospitality scene. The fact that it was so unique makes it more or less irreplaceable.
“Everyone’s trying to figure out where they’re gonna go,” says Moylan. “Myself included. There a lot of displaced people.”
That said, there won’t be much of a wake or funeral for DC’s. Aside from the events this Thursday and Friday, there isn’t much planned. They’re not even sure when they’re actually going to close.
“We want to go out as quietly as possible,” says Moylan, “but with a fuck you.”
We’ll drink to that…