From the Village Inn to Feathers: Making Community at 77 Kinderkamack Road
A Journey into River Edge
Now a long-standing fixture along lower Kinderkamack Road, just nest to Fire House # 2 and across the road from the train station (once North Hackensack, now called New Bridge Landing), Club Feathers occupies a small unassuming building. It blends seamlessly into the neighborhood.
But it was not always that way.
Feathers came to town in 1978. It replaced the venerable and popular Village Inn, a local institution owned by the Thompson Brothers, the multi-generational mainstay family. The Thompsons owned Thompson brothers moving, the business housed on Ackerman Street just to the other side of the firehouse. John Thompson was long time beloved borough clerk. To many the Thompsons (and their extended family – i.e. Mr. Shuart, a Boy Scout leader in the 1960’s comes to mind) represented River Edge.
In those days, the Village Inn was an unofficial gathering place for matters River Edge. It was also where you could grab a good draught beer on tap or thin crust tavern pizza – a convenient stop for a homeward bound commuter just off the train.
So there was a real sense of loss when the Village Inn closed up shop in the mid-1970’s.
Any change would have been significant and a jolty to mold timers of that period. So it is no surprise that the arrival of feathers represented a major change – not just in the use of the building, but also in terms of what community was considered to be about.
Feathers is described at its website as “one of the oldest gay bars in the state”. When it first opened its doors back then in 1978, and was an immediate hit as a prior favorite spot, The Bell, had just closed.
Over the years, Feathers has been voted by area publications such as Odyssey and Get Out as “the best club in New Jersey”, and it has over time remained a popular destination. As a 2008 “Out and About” article posted as a link on the Feathers website stated “Long before it was socially acceptable to go public with ‘alternative lifestyles’, .... (this) hotspot..catered to a gay clientele”.
The place has come to occupy an important role in the greater northern New Jersey community – offering a safe, comfortable, relaxing and welcoming environment to all. To many it is a vital community.
This aspect was much on display in the wake of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Florida. At that time a midnight vigil was held to honor victims and to raise money for their families to help with funeral and hospital expenses.
Paul Bennett, a manager at the time told FIOS News, “...Gay straight it really doesn’t matter, you have to come together as one”.
These days Feathers draws folks from throughout the region most every night from Wednesday through Saturday. Musical are varied and range, depending on the evening, from pop to Latin to fusion.
There are also themed parties to be found at the two level facilities ranging from Madonna Impersonators, Breach Parties and Drag Queen Nights.
It’s now over a half century since the heyday of the Village Inn. The décor, music and clientele may be different. But it remains a place where community is made and honored as vital.