224 Avenue B at 14th St
A place that remains untouched by time as the world turns.
Mona’s would probably be the last place you would plan to visit on your trip to New York City. Why would you? It’s a dive bar way out on the East Side with no decorum and no frills. The narrow space is dark, and not very inviting, the offerings here are pool tables in the back and cheap drinks, that’s all…
Except for Tuesday nights. This is when this cramped old bar turns into pure magic. The tiny space gets packed. Regulars, the old-timers, manage to get the more comfortable seats along the bar. The drink of choice is humble beer or, if you get fancy, the good old ‘dark and stormy.’ The old black-n-white movies continuously running on the TV screen complete the vibe, a real throwback to the Village of the 1950s.
The Tuesday late nights are all about the music. At 11 pm Mona’s Hot Four, the fiery house band, starts heating things up. The music is hot jazz, which makes your feet stomp, your head bob, and your whole body sway to the rhythm. As the night progresses, the place gets more and more crowded. Many of these people are gloriously young and come with instruments in hand. Once the clock strikes midnight, the jam session starts, and they start coming to the stage and playing, creating different ever-changing ensembles on the spot. The music continues nonstop until 3 am. It’s such a wonder to witness people stepping into Mona’s from the street, ordering a drink or two, hanging, talking, and then…. taking the stage by storm! These young ladies that were just chatting at the bar are actually singers? And what singers!
What a glorious spot… a place where you can listen to the best jazz musicians in the city without buying tickets, making reservations, or having a 2 drink minimum.
A donation bucket is passed around for tips. Believe me, the place is worth every penny.