Hey Mr. DJ: Union Pool


Photo: Union Pool

Photo: Union Pool

Venue: Union Pool, Williamsburg
Theme: “Rock and roll” and “good music”
The sound: Anything from Kendrick Lamar to punk rock
A place to get down? Too cool
Extras: Very cool

Union Pool is not a secret. Everyone who is cool and living in Brooklyn (and also probably not living in Brooklyn) seems to go to this bar/patio/taco truck like all the time. At least that is my assessment after dropping by this bar/patio/taco truck-venue a few times to check out their DJ situation. A former pool cleaning supplies store just off the L’s Lorimer stop, it features a spacious bar with comfy black booths, turntables and a solid selection of cheap beers–I counted three.

In the back is a patio equipped with picnic tables, a psychedelic back wall and a mossy pond. Outside and above is also the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, reminding us that we are still in urban landscape, lest we forget. Also, as I mentioned, there is a taco truck. But you probably already know all this. As I said, it is not exactly a speakeasy.

The first visit to Union was one Saturday afternoon for the Summer Thunder series, an afternoon of live music and DJs. When I went it was a series of hard rock and punk bands playing to a crowd of tattooed, black-tee’d ladies and gentlemen. Actually, the crowd was pretty diverse, always the case when I’ve stopped by (some nights more dark-rimmed glasses than others). I didn’t know what I was in for, but it was homey to see a group of people crowd excitedly around a patio excitedly for music. Also, that pond killed me (covered in moss with green and purple leaves shooting out, just adorable).

The second visit was on Thursday night for DJ Andy, who’s been DJing for Union Pool for 10 years (Thursdays and Sundays, 8-11 pm). Andy brings his vinyl and sets up at the turntables at the bar inside. When I asked what music he was playing, he said, “I just call it rock and roll.” That night “rock and roll” included Bo Diddly’s “Jo Ann” and Betty James’ “I’m a Little Mixed Up.” Patrons seemed to be doing their thing–I don’t think anyone was really there for the music. But it did make for a cool vibe when people stepped inside (outside the only music audible was what the tiki bar on the patio was playing from its boom box. The bar had a respectable shelf of cassette tapes including The Clash, Sonic Youth and, yes, Bo Diddley, again).

The third night was Ryan’s, another resident DJ (11 years!). Friday is his usual night, from 11 p.m. to close. DJ Ryan has a serious beard, and he describes what he plays as “good music,” which that night meant Smoota, Dam Funk, or Timmy Thomas, but on other nights it could mean electrofunk, disco or hip hop. Again, no one was completely thinking about the music ,but all seemed to be having a good time. And if you did pay attention to the music, they were solid tunes.

So if you’re down for being one of the cool people, totally check out Union Pool’s DJ nights. And bring a sweet tooth, kids. So much eye candy.

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