Cambridge nightclub ManRay closed 10 years ago this July, and in a weird way, it feels like yesterday. They say that decades in the new millennium have no real distinction, especially not the way they did in the 20th century, and this notion is furthered by the feeling that ManRay is sort of frozen in time. Opened March 21, 1985 and shuttered July 30, 2005, the Central Square nightclub — and stress on nightclub — featured various styles of New England’s underground, all soundtracked by resident DJ Chris Ewen and led down the path of beautiful intoxication by the motherly presence of bartender Teresa “Terri” Niedzwiecki.
“ManRay was about bringing the exciting and unexpected to the nightclub world, through music, art, fashion, attitude,” says Ewen. “There was nothing like it in the Cambridge/Boston area, and it created a community of like-minded people who wanted to explore what was lurking beyond the mainstream. People who never went to ManRay — or weren’t around then — will get the chance to experience a bit of all of that mayhem and magic. We’re going to try to fit over 20 years of cutting edge nightlife — the people, the music, the fashion, the performances — into one big party, with a nod to the future.”
I can go on and on about my own ManRay stories, but as the 10th anniversary party of the club’s closing arrives tonight, one feeling stands out: That the various nights of ManRay each week weirdly represented, in my own mind, the changing seasons. So we reached out to Ewen with this loose idea in mind, and for him to match the music of ManRay to this idea that its nights represented slight differences in style, feel, and climate, but were all celebrated together under one roof with one common ground.
Of course, this premise is just an excuse to celebrate the music of ManRay. Here’s what Ewen chose to represent each themed night from ManRay’s former life, and chances are we’ll hear much of it tonight.
Winter: Wednesday CRYPT, the goth and industrial night.
“A blizzard of spring-loaded, dangerous and captivating beauty,” says Ewen.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Monitor”
Peter Murphy, “Cuts You Up”
Wolfsheim, “Once In A Lifetime”
Spring: Thursday CAMPUS, the gay night.
“Pounding beats, some guitars, and just enough of a snarl to let you know that you were at a gay night with balls,” says Ewen.
Underworld, “Born Slippy”
Hole, “Celebrity Skin”
Electric 6, “Gay Bar”
Summer: Friday, the fetish night, flavored by goth and industrial
“Powerful and sexy anthems, to accompany whatever you desired,” says Ewen.
The Prodigy, “Smack My Bitch Up”
VNV Nation, “Joy”
Garbage, “#1 Crush”
Fall: Saturday, the “retro” nights, including “Heroes” & “Liquid”
“When you were done doing the Safety Dance, ‘Heroes’ was there to show you that the ’80s had a darker side,” says Ewen.