For your weekend live music/dance crawl through East Village & Lower East Side, start out your after-dinner evening at a place you and your dearest peeps might catch some of the best live international music to be found anywhere in the New York metro area:
Drom (85 Avenue A, between 5th and 6th Streets). Drom is known as the premier space for Turkish, Balkan, Gypsy, French, Russian and other touring acts, and also hosts Soviet ‘80s disco parties and the like. They also feature a respectable small-plate menu, Turkish beer and raki, and a full cocktail bar.
After the live acts are done, head over to Avenue C and check out what’s going on at Nublu (62 Avenue C, between 4th and 5th Streets), a more intimate club overseen by acclaimed Turkish jazz saxophone and keyboard player Ilhan Ersahin, that also has its own record label. Nublu boasts an experimental sake cocktail bar and a high-quality sound system that has featured artists whose careers were launched or exploded within its darkish space: Norah Jones, Kudu, Brazilian Girls, Forro in the Dark, Hess is More, and the late Butch Morris, to name a few. Wednesday Brazilian nights with live music and resident DJ Greg Kaz are not to be missed.
Finally, if you still have energy, crawl back west and below Houston Street and stagger over the Mehanata Bulgarian Bar (113 Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Delancey Streets), a longstanding home of Balkan and Gypsy music, launching pad for Gogol Bordello and Balkan Beat Box, and home of the infamous Ice Cage and pornographic urinals in the men’s room. Mehanata has a small but tasty Bulgarian menu and full bar, featuring its signature cocktail, Vodka Cider. Local and touring Gypsy, Balkan-esque, and even Latin bands such as Yuri Yunakov, Escarioka, Lemon Bucket Orchestra, What Cheer! Brigade, Bad Buka, Balkan Stomp and many others have performed there. The DJs tend to blow out the sound system, but you are already too wasted to notice. Just keep dancing until the 4 am closing time.