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The site previously held a restaurant called Simeone's Restaurant, until in 1983 the location was turned into a gay club called Campus. In 1985, a second part of the location was opened as Manray. Eventually the two places merged into the modern-day Manray space. The club billed itself as an "art bar", and often featured gallery shows by local artists in its lounge area. Manray gained national attention when it was featured in Life Magazine, and in a televised segment by talk show host Geraldo Rivera.
Manray catered to a variety of alternative lifestyles. Its longest-running night was Campus, a night "for gay men and their friends". Also popular was New Wave Night, held every Saturday, which featured DJs Chris Ewen and Gary Conzo playing new wave and disco anthems, respectively. Manray also hosted many live music acts, including Alien Sex Fiend, Peter Murphy, and Nirvana.
Manray gained a reputation as a hotbed of strangeness in the early 1990s, when it became home to the goth and fetish/BDSM scenes in the Boston area. Alternating Friday night events would be geared to one, the other, or both subcultures, resulting in a local scene that was unique in its cross-pollination. Events with names such as Hell, Xmortis, Fantasy Factory and Ooze earned Manray a place in local lore as a destination not for the timid or squeamish. Strict dress codes and a tight-knit community that looked out for its own helped bolster its image as an otherworldly locale, full of dark secrets.
On July 30, 2005, after more than 20 years, Manray was forced to close its doors. The owner of the building (not the same person as the owner of the club) decided to take advantage of the high property values, and to demolish the building in order to construct apartments. This followed a long process in which a building near Manray was declared historical, and the developer sought and eventually got permission to move that building to a new lot. In 2003, MIT alum Matt DeBergalis ran for Cambridge City Council and urged saving Manray as part of his platform.
The final week at the club was an intense series of farewell events, one each night for the different subcultures to which it catered. The owners of Manray are seeking a new location near Central Square, and hope to re-open in the near future. In the meantime, they continue to publicize events associated with the club on their web site, including Manray DJs at other venues.
Oral History Project
In 2019, A book project was launched that will present the history of Manray, its effect on the nightlife of Cambridge, and the people that attended. The book has a tentative release date of Summer 2021.
- Official website
- Globe Article on Manray's closing
- Boston Phoenix Article on Manray's Goth Culture - 1997