Irving Plaza is a 1,025-person ballroom-style music venue at 17 Irving Place and East 15th Street in the Union Square neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The three-level auditorium has served as a Polish Army veterans' headquarters, a swing music ballroom, a rock venue and has hosted church services as well. It is featured on the Complex City Guide list of "50 Best Concert Venues of America".
Polish Army veterans
In 1948 the building was purchased by the Polish Army Veterans of America District 2 and turned into a Polish-American community center. Generals and other distinguished Poles graced its stage including, in 1976, the future Pope John Paul II.
Thirty years later, in 1978, the hall was converted to a rock music venue by future Peppermint Lounge promoters Tom Goodkind and Frank Roccio, who after a year, began to share promotional efforts with a "Club 57" crew headed by Jane Friedman and Louis Tropia. Goodkind and Roccio brought in acts such as the B-52s, Talking Heads, the Ramones and, with Friedman and Tropia, a wealth of British bands, establishing the venue as a premier American location for punk and new wave.
In October 1983 the venue was reopened by Chuck Terzella, with management by Frank Gallagher and the English DJ Andy Dunkley, presenting reggae and other ethnic music, plus college rock, proclaiming in their ads "We don't have video" Terzella's club filed for bankruptcy in December 1985, and closed in June 1986.
Chris Williamson, who already promoted the punk and hard rock oriented "Rock Hotel" nights at the Ritz, then took over in November 1986. He began programming alternative rock occasionally using the designation "Rock Motel". A New Year's Eve Rock Hotel show with The Dictators turned nasty after the band initiated a food fight and a bouncer lost his cool and beat some patrons. Plans by the Polish Veterans to convert the building to condos fell through. They had to spend $25,000 on bringing the venue up to firecode before, in April 1987, Chris Williamson re-opened the club - featuring improved sound and lights - with an inaugural multi-night stand of Big Audio Dynamite, in the tradition of The Clash. Williamson continued putting on shows into 1988 including hosting the popular "Milky Way" hip hop nights but, as Irving Place gentrified, there was increasing local opposition to the hall. A plan by Williamson to present a play in the winter of 1988 fell through and, in December 1988, it was announced that the club would close and be demolished and turned into condos. The last show was The Ramones on December 31, 1988. Dee Dee Ramone praised the venue: "It was funky without being a dump."
Ron Delsener took on management in the early 1990s. Live Nation, a spinoff of Clear Channel Communications, renovated and reopened Irving Plaza under the name "Fillmore New York At Irving Plaza" on April 11, 2007, reviving the name of the former Fillmore East in Manhattan's East Village, which had been open from 1968 to 1971. However, in May 2010 Live Nation conceded that the new name had not caught on and due to "unrelenting demand" the name "Irving Plaza" would be restored as from June 23, 2010. A replica of the original marquee has been commissioned.