Cafe Wha? opened in the 1950s, when Greenwich Village was the center of New York’s beatnik scene. Owned by impresario Manny Roth in the early 1960s, the basement club welcomed many young singers at the beginnings of their careers: Bob Dylan hitchhiked from Minnesota to play at the club to a rapturous audience, and Mary Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary was a waitress here.
Today the club has three house bands that alternate nights and play a mixture of R’n’B, soul, funk, and rock. The bands often welcomes celebrity guest performers, so you never know who you might catch onstage. Visit this classic venue to round off a New York pub crawl or a tour of Greenwich Village.
Things to Know Before You Go
Be prepared to pay a cover charge to enjoy music at Cafe Wha?
The performance space is located in the basement, down a steep flight of stairs, and may not be suitable for wheelchair users.
Cafe Wha? is not suitable for children.
How to Get There
Cafe Wha? is located at 115 Macdougal St. in Greenwich Village. To reach the club via subway, take the A, B, C, D, E, F or M train to West 4th St./Washington Square. You can also reach the area via bus; the M55 stops at 6th Ave and West 3rd St.
When to Get There
Cafe Wha? hosts live music 7 nights a week. It’s best to reserve seats in advance, especially on the weekend. Shows usually start around 9pm.
Visit Washington Square Park
Before heading to Cafe Wha?, spend some time in Washington Square Park, the heart of the village. The square, which sits in the center of New York University, has long attracted students, musicians, and nonconformists, and has been the site of many of the city’s most famous political rallies. Take some food to the park and enjoy lunch on one of the benches, or just spend a few minutes people watching.
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