In the basement of a fancy 1904 apartment house on 54th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue — on the street where Frank Loesser’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ played their games — is one of their refuges, now called Flute. In Damon Runyon’s short stories about the 1920s Broadway scene, a nightclub operator, “Miss Missouri Martin” was a character based on Texas Guinan, the actual operator of this authentic, unchanged speakeasy. Flute is the real deal and a time capsule, to boot.
It serves me as a rendezvous point with lovely Samantha, whom I take to watch Alvin Ailey’s Dance Company perform at City Center, just a block or so away. She and I sip Champagne Mojitos, arriving at the performance just in the nick of time.
Slink down the sidewalk stairwell of a dozen iron steps, turn left into the low-ceilinged, dimly lit room — romantic, mysterious — let your eyes adjust then ask for an alcove, a lover’s alcove where you can drink Flute’s champagne potions and contemplate the magical positions that being in a lover’s alcove tends to generate. No one will see you.
Flute has Champagne Happy Hours (Tuesday, until 8pm) during which all drinks, including champagne, are half price, and live jazz Wednesdays, 7-10pm.
Oh—on another historical note, Studio 54 was located across Broadway, just one block west, on the other side of the street. Originally an Opera House, it became the home of televisions’s The Johnny Carson Show. Still named Studio 54, it is now an outreach of the Roundabout Theater Company.