Citysearch: New York Bars I’ve Fallen Down In

Every true drinker has woken up at least once to discover a bruise or drinking-related injury from the previous night. Me, more than others. Since the day I turned 18–er, 21–I’ve displayed an almost magnificent tendency to drink, slip and fall, and I’ve done it at bars across New York City. Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m drunk now, obviously. But seriously, watch your step at these seven bars, or you could end up like me–and as my parents can confirm, you really don’t want that. 

Chloe 81: The stairs that lead down to this exclusive Lower East Side lounge are steep (especially that last one, which is deeper than it looks)–hence the “watch your step” sign. But pounding Jameson on the rocks really isn’t conducive to watching anything other than your life flash before your eyes, which might explain why I fell down the whole flight not long ago. Anthony, the bouncer, kindly insisted that it wasn’t that bad a fall, but the bruises I incurred told a different story.

Janis: Given my penchant for falling, I probably shouldn’t be allowed out of the house at all, let alone while rocking four-inch heels. Particularly if it’s raining. I made it up the front steps to this West Village hot spot (named for Janis Joplin, who once lived in the building) just fine; the problem arose when I tried to navigate the steps inside to get down to the subterranean lounge. My heels were wet, the stairs were slippery and the crowd of witnesses down below gave me a standing ovation. Hey, at least someone was able to stand.

Von: This East Village classic has experienced a resurgence since the debut of its lower-level lounge, which boasts a second bar, a DJ and a more dancey vibe. The plus side about falling down the stairs at Von is that you can’t really be seen by anyone because there are doors at both ends. The downside is, when you’re even looking for a plus side in this situation, your life is pretty much over.

Southside: I used to bartend at the now-defunct Martignetti Liquors, so when my bosses opened this swanky subterranean spot in Nolita, it became my very own Cheers bar. Unfortunately, my name wasn’t the only thing everyone knew; my inclination to spontaneously fall after one too many Warchild shots (bourbon, peach schnapps and sour mix) was another. If I told you how many times the bouncer, Q, has peeled me up off the stairs, you would feel sick. What’s that you say? You already feel sick from reading this?

Sway: One of the few Soho spots with real staying power, Sway is like the scene of the crime–where the crime in question is “things I do when I drink.” Regulars know that the back room is where it’s at: The bar is easier to access than the main bar up front, the banquettes are prime for getting wild and you can easily reach the staircase that leads to the less crowded bathrooms. And that’s where I was going when I tripped down about 10 of them. Luckily no one remembers it, least of all me.

Shoolbred’s: Now I know what you’re thinking: “Maybe you should just avoid bars with stairs, Justine.” Yes, I probably should. But a recent fall at this cozy East Village pub–think stained glass paneling, a fireplace and a huge selection of Scotch and bourbon–proves that stairs aren’t my only problem. So are barstools. Yep, getting off a barstool can be hazardous, in this case because the heel of my shoe got caught on the chair as I tried to dismount. Luckily nobody got hurt, unless you count my pride. Just kidding–I obviously don’t have any of that!

Kenmare: Falling down the stairs that lead to the subterranean lounge at this Nolita hot spot is like wearing a huge sign on your face that says “I can’t hang.” It’s pretty much the worst thing ever, and after having done it just the other night, I’m pretty much the worst person ever. A room full of fabulously cool people who I’ll now never know will be more than happy to confirm that.

(A version of this article originally appeared on

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