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Saying goodbye to East Setauket’s Velvet Lounge, closed after 20 years of live music

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GreaterPortJeff coverage is funded in part by Toast Coffeehouse, now with four locations across Suffolk County. Toast of Port Jeff is moving to a new location this spring. Click here to learn more.

Long Island this winter has lost a long-time haven for artistic expression, local music and great times.

The Velvet Lounge officially closed its doors in later February.

The venue’s days were numbered since the Curry Club, who’s founder leased the building space and shared it with the lounge, departed from East Setauket. Kulwant Wadhwa, the Curry Club’s owner, merged his 28-year-old restaurant with his daughter’s SaGhar in Port Jefferson to form Curry Club at SaGhar.

A bohemian hole in the wall

The live music venue and bar earned a reputation as an indie, city-like venue displaced in Long Island’s suburbia. It hosted performances from unassuming singer-songwriters and leather bracelet-and choker-clad headbangers alike.

Up and coming local acts cut their teeth on Velvet Lounge’s meager stage, while friends enjoyed each other’s company out on its spacious patio. Works of art from the community hung on every wall.

“The vibe that the Velvet Lounge brought was very, very, very bohemian,” Maxwell Peters, the Velvet Lounge’s promotor and audio engineer, said. “You had so many artists coming together, and musicians, and all different creative types. The university was right down the road. The hospital was right down the road. It really was a home for a lot of people, especially those people in the neighborhood.”

The shows might go on

Peters will continue to perform booking and engineering duties at the Curry Club at SaGhar. While he cannot transplant the Velvet Lounge’s aesthetic to Port Jefferson, he could find a new home for its community of creatives.

“The music will be returning there in April fully,” Peters said of Curry Club at SaGhar’s live music. “And then you can probably look at us doing similar showcases that we did at the Velvet Lounge starting in May.”

Even with the hope that the Velvet Lounge’s showcases might live on, its closure still leaves a void for many Long Islanders.

“There’s just so many legendary performances that happened at the Velvet Lounge,” Peters said. “There’s so many great people that I’ve met, and that’s not just me. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that it really did change a lot of people’s lives for the better.”

Top: A live performance at the Velvet Lounge (velvetloungeny.com).