In the late 1990s, Kokie's Place was a legendary Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar where a guy would sell you cocaine from a closet in the back. A few years ago, Vice magazine presented an oral history of this vibrant, strange Puerto Rican dive bar where salsa dancers, hipsters, bikers, and addicts played in the snow. It's a fascinating, funny article that also touches on the insanely-fast gentrification of Williamsburg. By the way, the name of the bar isn't a reference to cocaine but rather to the coquí, a frog endemic to Puerto Rico. From Vice:
JERRY P: The coke was stepped on like crazy. I think it was cut with meth, because it lasted so fucking long. I personally didn’t mind it."Please Snort Me"
BRIAN F: It was convenient living nearby because the coke was so awful. As soon as I did a bump I would run home, shit my brains out, and then come back refreshed and ready for more.
MEG SNEED: The coke there was pretty bad, true, but it was such a pleasant place to be. A real positive atmosphere and community feeling. I even thought about hanging out there without drugs once or twice. Of course I never did.
LUCY P: I don’t know if I ever talked to anybody there who I didn’t know, but I felt as though I could’ve. And it wasn’t just the drugs. There was a sense that everybody was there to enjoy some sort of desperate eked-out freedom. As though a line had been crossed into comity. You know, the purity of purpose people shared.
STEVE L: The first time I walked in there, I could see that all the action was in the disco room, where a crowd of mostly middle-aged Puerto Rican mamis were dancing around to what sounded like electro-Merengue. One of them, in a hot-peach tube top, bleached cut-offs, and espadrilles dragged me out on the floor to get down with her. I must have pranced with every orange-haired lady in the place.