THE Monaco, at 133 W. 52nd St. is reminiscent of the vanishing “theatre restaurants” as these honky tonks call themselves which up to 1956 lined that part of West 52nd St. known as “Swing Lane.” They flourished as jazz joints in the mid-thirties and survived as sucker traps for servicemen in the post-war period, the bait being cut liquor, strippers and B-girls at the bars. As in the Bourbon Street quarter of New Orleans, door-men propel customers inside with bawled announcements that “the show is about to startentertainment continuous,” etc. Drinks at the bar start at $1.25; at the tables, $1.50. Favors, toys and gimmicks are continuously hawked by checkroom attendants doubling as cigarette girls and parttime “hostesses.” Counter-parts, such as the HEAT WAVE, operate in Greenwich Village under the same No Cover, No Minimum and See the Show From the Bar, policy.
As fast as these fly-by-nite operations vanish, others mushroom up, and it is difficult to keep tabs on their names and locations. How they obtain liquor licenses is one of the major mysteries of the restaurant world.
This is definitely the seamier side of New York nite life and here might be as good a place as any to pass on to the visitor the seven rules of conduct for keeping out of trouble promulgated by the New York City Police Department:
1. Never carry large sums of money.
2. Never display money.
3. Think in terms of your money when in crowded areas.
4. Hold pocketbooks by the clasp.
5. Be suspicious if jostled or pushed unnecessarily.
6. Avoid “nice” strangers who offer chances to make money.
7. Generally speaking, think at all times that you might be a victim, and you probably won’t.