“We didn’t quite realize how many Doctor Who fans there were.”, Doc Wasabassco the manager of The Way Station, told me when I sat down with him in the highly buzzed about steampunk and Doctor Who themed bar The Way Station in Brooklyn, New York.
If you’re a Whovian, chances are this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about “that bar with the TARDIS”.
I squeed when I heard about The Way Station’s existence and squeed again when hearing that it was in Brooklyn and I could actually go whenever I wanted! The first time I visited The Way Station was during their popular Doctor Who Sundays, where they show on a projector Classic Who, New Who and the latest episodes. I don’t have to tell you what an absolute pleasure it was to watch the mid-season finale surrounded by Whovians decked out in bow ties, fezzes and Tennants Converse Chuck Taylor with a beer in one hand and a sonic in the other. We cheered, we laughed, and a few silent tears in there too (it’s all Rory’s fault!), all while I was sipping on my cocktail aptly named The Sonic Screwdriver (Elevens specifically).
But the success of the bar was something that they “stumbled into”. Doc, who is a long time steampunk fan got together with the owner Anders and decided to open a steampunk themed bar. However, they soon discovered a wrench was thrown in their steampunk gears, “We got really excited at first, “oh we’ll be a steampunk bar”… and before we opened we had a couple of one day events and we discovered something. Steampunk people don’t drink.” Apparently, steampunkers like to drink water at bars, which isn’t a problem unless of course you are trying to open a steampunk bar.
After this, they knew they had to file back the Victorian gadgetry a bit, and that’s when the TARDIS materialized. As they were putting everything together and building props in their workshop in the bar’s basement, Doc looked in the corner of the bar where the bathroom was going to be and said to himself, “yeah I need to [put a TARDIS there].”
The best part of all is he didn’t think anyone would actually notice, “We actually ended up being more of a Doctor Who bar which is lovely. The only thing we questioned was that the TARDIS isn’t actually steampunk, but the way we rationalized it was that The Doctor could go to steampunk places. But low and behold that became the thing. So yeah we’re a steampunk bar but mostly we’re the bar with a TARDIS.”
Looking around The Way Station is like you’re on a marvelous geeky Easter egg hunt. The TARDIS is actually a bathroom, and yes it’s bigger on the inside (but no swimming pool), with Who-themed murals done by Jonathan Fritz and a barely noticeable “Bad Wolf” carved in the wood. There’s steampunk artwork, and décor, a TARDIS tissue box and according the tally marks on the wall they’ve seen (and forgotten they’ve seen) The Silence 15 times. The Way Station also has a Gallifreyan Cocktail Menu and one of the bartenders Melissa makes DW jewelry and brings it in on Sundays to sell to the customers. One of my favorites things, other than the TARDIS of course, is ATM which has “EXTERMINATE” on the screen and when you print your receipt “Bad Wolf” is on there as well. Russel T. Davies would be proud.
The Way Station isn’t all Who and steampunk. They have Buffy the Vampire Slayer Monday’s where they show Buffy episodes and have trivia to win free drinks. I think that’s what’s so awesome about this bar, not only is the Whovian in me elated of its existence but the geek in me is as well. There’s no other place in New York City (that I know of) where you can hang out and have a drink and know that you can talk to almost anyone in the bar about the same geeky things you love. People are always coming in from all over the country and world to take pictures with the TARDIS. It’s a fun and very social atmosphere and Doc agrees, “The best part is it’s social nerds and geeks… that’s what I love is that you can walk in and someone is talking about Game of Thrones or Star Trek.”
Did I mention the part about naked women? Oh yes, there’s that too! As if you needed any more incentive to come. The last Thursday of each month they have Wasabassco Burlesque show. Doc does the props for Wasabassco Burlesque and told me they had a DW themed show in the past. There was a sexy Dalek and Cyberwoman and the hosts did a striptease as they regenerated into each other until at the end all you had was a naked woman wearing a Tom Baker scarf. Wasabassco Burlesque is Doc’s primary job and The Way Station is his second, “If I have a burlesque job for one job and managing a nerd bar as the other I’m doing pretty well.” I’d have to agree with him.
Just as the Classic Who “The Happiness Patrol” episode was starting and our interview was ending Doc concluded with,
“Yes we decorated it to be a nerdy bar steampunk and Doctor Who, but mostly we decorated it with things we like… and [it] became a huge success that you can’t really plan. Which is why you should always do what you love and love what you do and always embrace nerds.”
The Way Station Links:
- Twitter @waystationbk
- Facebook Fan Page
- Facebook Group
- Way Station in ‘Where is the TARDIS?’
The Way Station Address and Directions:
- 683 Washington Ave (between Prospect and St Marks)
- A/ to Washington or 2/3 to BK Museum or Q to 7th Ave
- B45 to Washington Ave and Prospect Place (stops right in front of bar)