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Location Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Coordinates Coordinates: 40°43′39″N 73°59′09″W / 40.72750°N 73.98583°W / 40.72750; -73.98583
Owner Cornelius Conboy
Dennis Gattra
Type Nightclub, Art gallery
Genre(s) Punk
Contemporary art
Opened October 31, 1983
Closed October 22, 1985

8BC was a nightclub, performance space, and art gallery located in the East Village neighborhood of New York, New York. Founded in 1983, the space was closed by 1985.[1]


8BC Gallery, exterior view, 1984, from the Archives of American Art

In 1980 co-founder Cornelius Conboy purchased the building with the intentions of opening a theatre. During his time working on Theatre Row, Conboy became aware of the lack of experimental performance support in the area. He came across the space, a former farmhouse,[2] in an area described as "Little Dresden" due to the large quantity of burnt out and abandoned buildings. Eventually, he decided to open a performance-oriented club space, intending to create a casual environment without the restraints of sitting in a theater environment. Dennis Gattra was co-partner; a member of a traveling circus and road manager for The Flying Karamazov Brothers.[3]

The space opened on October 31, 1983 with Ucci's Circus Romanus; a four-hour variety show.[2] The small space had a capacity of 200 people and a very large stage, which was longer than the main room of the club, and allowed for large performances. Large murals decorated the exterior and interior, and rotating exhibitions were held showcasing local and regional artists. The space relied solely on cover charge and bar sales, paying its performers a percentage of the admission revenues.[3] The space was awarded a Bessie Award for their contributions to the local art community in 1985. That year the space was closed due to improper zoning use. The closure made the front page of the New York Times on October 28, 1985. In 1999 the Smithsonian Institution's request that archives from the club be donated was granted and items have appeared in related exhibitions at their physical facility in Washington D.C. as well as online in their Archives of American Art.[citation needed]


During its first year the space showcased over 650 performances ranging from punk rock bands to cultural performances such as Japanese Buto. Notable performers include: Karen Finley, Steve Buscemi, John Zorn, They Might Be Giants, Leisure Class, Ethyl Eichelberger, Holly Hughes, Charles Busch, Rhys Chatham, XS: The Opera Opus,[3] and the Wayfarers.

In popular culture[edit]

8BC is mentioned in the song "La Vie Bohème" in the musical RENT.



  1. ^ wildnewyork (2009). "A short-lived club in the 1980s East Village". Ephemeral New York. Retrieved 10 Jun 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Parnes, Uzi (1985). "Pop Performance in East Village Clubs". The Drama Review. The MIT Press. 29 (1): 5–16. JSTOR 1145592. 
  3. ^ a b c Tarzian, Charles (1985). "8BC-From Farmhouse to Cabaret". The Drama Review. The MIT Press. 29 (1): 108–112. JSTOR 1145608. 


  • Adler, Norma. "Jo Andres' "Liquid TV" at 8BC." The Drama Review 29. 1 (1985): 36-38.
  • McCormick, Carlo, Marvin J. Taylor, Lynn Gumpert, et al. The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-691-12286-5
  • McCormick, Carlo & Walter Robinson. "Slouching Toward Avenue D." Art in America 72. 6 (1984): 138, 158.

External links[edit]