As the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attack approaches, I am feeling nostalgic and sad about the loss of the "Greatest Bar on Earth" on the 107th Floor of Tower I of the World Trade Center. It was my most direct connection to the WTC, my regular Saturday night hangout for awhile.
The "Greatest Bar on Earth" may or may not have been the greatest bar on earth. The decor was a strange mixture of modern, deco, and 50s scifi. Of course, you didn’t need to do much to improve upon the GBoE’s most dominant decoration: the breathtaking views of Manhattan, Jersey and the outer boroughs all around you.
As a novice swing dancer, it was the perfect place to hang out with other dancers, listen to live music, display your mad skillz to the tourists, and drink expensive and well-prepared cocktails. At five bucks a head, it was hard to beat.
Ron Sunshine (pictured here) was actually the last band I saw at the World Trade Center. He was performing a free concert in June in the Plaza between Towers I and II. I remember taking a breather in-between dances, looking up at the towers and thinking about how lucky I was to live in New York in this era.
Ron has a sweet anecdote about performing at the GBoE:
We started playing there in 96 or 97. It felt like we were really getting somewhere, having a gig like that. Made us feel good. I did 3 CD-release parties there, including one with the Smoking Section, my old funk band. I have a recording of one of them, which sounds great. But I have felt funny about releasing it. Still feels strange…
…I was just thinking about pressing my nose to the glass on the stage during a break and pointing out to visiting friends and relatives over the years the path to home. Look, there is the Manhattan Bridge, and that string of bright lights is Flatbush Ave. That big black blob is Prospect Park. That’s where you take a right.
The carpet on the stage had a "WOW" print on it, for Windows on the World. So if you looked at it upside down it said MOM. I had a drummer who used to walk around the stage going WOW MOM WOW MOM WOW MOM all the time. For some reason I always think of that. We really enjoyed playing there. I could tell you lots of stories…
More anecdotes and memories on my swing website yehoodi.com.
About 70 employees of the GBoE and the restaurant next door "Windows on the World" perished on 9/11.