New bars are a dime a dozen in Bushwick. Some are fun, some are just serviceable, and few have objectives beyond commercial success. But on Starr Street, a recently opened watering hole has already made some major accomplishments in fostering community, supporting local activism and having a great time while doing it. If you haven’t already, you need to check out Starr Bar.
Chances are you’ve noticed it in passing before. At the moment, a small, unassuming sign out front is the only indication that the mysterious gathering space on Starr Street with the glimmering, lofted windows is actually your new go-to bar. But don’t be fooled—its humble exterior belies the cozy and downright deluxe venue that awaits you inside.
Starr Bar quietly opened its doors to the public back in September. It’s the sister venue to Mayday Community Space, the organizing center on St. Nicholas that has worked tirelessly to present public, community-oriented programming and other social justice initiatives since it opened its doors several years ago.
“We work hand in glove with Mayday to leverage our two spaces to best support social justice movements locally, nationally and internationally. Proceeds from Starr Bar also help fund Mayday,” Mcnair explains to Bushwick Daily.
Despite the politically purposeful mission, the ambience at Starr Bar is far from heavy—and the events schedule is packed. “Our focus is political culture, so music and dancing is at the heart of all that we do. Weekends we dance late, Sundays is hot jazz, Tuesdays we have salsa, and every other Wednesday is comedy night.”
Though Starr Bar is only on the cusp of turning two months old, when you walk up the flight of stairs and into the spacious front bar and lounge, the space’s pre-existing ties and commitment to the community become immediately apparent: Starr Bar is no fledgling.
Already, the space buzzes with activity; artwork lines the walls, curators interact with the patrons, and the friendly bartenders are all ready to whip you up a signature cocktail (we recommend the very timely “Bad Hombre,” if you’re feeling fancy). The excitement is palpable; the atmosphere, vibrant and welcoming.
When we visited, Starr Bar was hosting a weekend-long pop-up by “Yeah, That’s What She Said!“, a series that features art and performances by working class and low income women, women of color, immigrant women, trans women and queer women.
Don’t fret if you missed it, though: Stephanie Orentas, Starr Bar’s superstar events coordinator (who also happens to be the founder of Bushwick’s youth art program Casa Experimental) has already filled the calendar with a similarly impressive array of forthcoming events, all of which are dedicated to activism and the fight for a more equitable and just future.
“Within two weeks of opening, we had a fundraiser for the indigenous led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Mcnair shares. “This was such a beautiful example of what we want to see at Starr Bar—political education, celebration, and timely material support for those fighting on the front lines of injustice.”
You can stop by Starr Bar any time to engage in some community power, healing, and indulge in a drink (or two…or three), or check out one of the venue’s many events.
In the next few weeks alone, you can join a bullerengue dance party with Bulla En El Barrio residency on this Thursday, October 27; catch the Fiesta Fantasma on Saturday, October 29; take a deep breath and attend an election result watching party, which will screen on a huge projector in Starr Bar’s back room on Tuesday, November 8; or swing by the La Liga Zine Fest (a festival highlighting Latinx zine makers) on Saturday, November 12.
And remember: Starr Bar offers jazz on Sundays, salsa on Tuesdays, political comedy hosted by Zilla Vodnas bi-weekly, and a “Sip&Sketch” creative session every month, starting on Thursday, November 3.