I’ve been to Arlo & Esme a few times before and had a great time – a relatively large and relatively chic bar is a contrast from most other places in the East Village, so it is typically heavily packed. This past Saturday I returned upon request with some friends that just wanted a place to hang with good music.
We finished dinner at Almond and headed straight over, so at 10:00 pm it was a little bit early too for us to have started the night. But since there was no one there yet, we headed downstairs and snagged a seat on the small couch. From previous experience, I know they have good music which is why it’s usually super crowded and why they must have started charging cover (I don’t normally condone places that charge cover, but even when I’ve been late on a weekend night I’ve never had to pay, so they must be spotty with their policy).
Since we arrived early and there weren’t that many people, it was understandable that the music was only meh to start with, and at first he only played unknown 80s music or random weird beats that dampened everyone’s mood. People went up to the DJ a few times to request songs and to ask when hip hop would be played, to which he disgruntledly always said, “Later.” 11:00 rolled around, the crowd was starting to file in, and the music STILL sucked, so we were getting pissed, pounded drinks instead and checked out the pool table in the room adjacent to the dance floor.
Finally, at 11:52 pm (yes, I checked, because I was that annoyed), the first song that people actually knew and liked came on, and the initially sucky DJ turned out to be really awesome for the rest of the night. Lesson learned: the early bird does NOT always get the worm. The clock struck 12 and the place was jam packed with sweaty bodies having a good time dancing.
Upstairs where it’s calmer, you still get a good dose of the music but you can actually have conversations with your friends, so if you were to host a small party then you would get the best of both worlds. Before planning a party there, I would suggest checking in on that cover situation and get that taken care of, otherwise it’s a nice bar to let loose and have fun! Check out some other suggestions from Yelpsters.
Arlo & Esme
42 E 1st Street
btw. 1st Ave and 2nd Ave