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Pawn Shop Lounge

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Pawn Shop On the outside -- Pawn Shop, in the shadow of the chug-chugging-along Performing Arts Center -- not much has changed. Scratch that. Nothing has changed. The original screaming yellow-and-red facade of the 1938 pawn shop remains; they even retained the exterior signs reading ''WE BUY DIAMONDS'' and ''WE BUY GOLD.'' (You want grit? Rumor has it the former owners would sell anything, ''including a severed head that still had its gold teeth in it,'' according to a club press release.) Visitors enter through a surreptitious side door. ''We were going for a New York underground, speakeasy feel,'' says VanNostrand, 36. No special knock or code, though; your hip-hugging Sevens should get you in. At least that was theunofficial dress code for visitors to the soft opening party last weekend. Many likely had never seen the inside of a pawn shop in their 20- to 30-something years on earth. Aside from two steel vaults -- one's now a purse/coat check; the other a wine cellar -- the interior is ''Andy Warhol meets SoHo loft meets period-modern meets . . .'' Although he is anything but laconic. Dance if you must -- the tunes are a customized nostalgic house-y blend -- but the real entertainment is right where you sit. ''We want people to feel comfortable here,'' says VanNostrand. ``Everything's a conversation piece, everything's interactive.'' Indeed, on a recent visit, there was some definite interaction. Minglers were layering themselves ''mile-high-style'' on resurrected Boeing 727 seats, snapping pics in the vintage photo booth (works for $5) and playing doctor on scary Marathon Man-style dentist chairs.
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