Thursday, May 23, 2024

The ManRay sign on Prospect Street in Cambridge’s Central Square. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The ManRay club reopens Saturday in Central Square, more than 17 years after closing at its original Brookline Street location – and more than eight months after the crowd at a book-panel discussion was told the buildout was “like 98 percent done.”

The club, at 40 Prospect St., is having an invitation-only first night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., according to an invitation emailed Wednesday.

RSVPs are a must, and there are no plus-ones.

Further, “due to capacity limitations, RSVPing to this event does not guarantee entrance,” the email warns. “Please plan accordingly, and arrive early.”

The 21-plus club has an $18 cover charge and a dress code that is “at the minimum” all black; the email suggests attendees dress to impress.

But that won’t be daunting to the clubgoers most eager to get in – many expressing distress online Wednesday when they found no invitation in their email inbox. A post on Facebook had some 50 messages from people having trouble finding an email to reply to with an RSVP; with the first 100 people in line getting in free to a club with an occupancy of 480, things could fill up fast.

ManRay, a goth fetish club, lasted at 21 Brookline St. in Central Square from 1983 (starting as Campus, with ManRay emerging two years later) to July 2005, when its distinct, bunkerlike structure was razed to make way for an apartment building. ManRay was home to the area’s goth, fetish, LGBT and BDSM scenes while hosting such performers as Nirvana and Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy; since its closing those scenes have dispersed to other area clubs, and ManRay regulars held reunions regularly. Former ManRay DJ Chris Ewen and bartender Terri Niedzwiecki hosted nights at clubs in Cambridge and Boston, including Halloween and New Year’s Eve spectaculars. 

Holland faced a series of disappointments in trying to resurrect his club over the years, and eventually had to surrender the site’s unused liquor license. But in early 2021 he homed in on the theater space the ImprovBoston comedy club had to leave in November 2020, during the pandemic, and in August 2021 he had his needed licensing on hand for construction. In February, a ManRay website went live with an RSVP space for its reopening night – which Holland once hoped would be in October 2021.