To many, New York City's gritty East Village — land of eclectic spirits and graffitied, rough edges, where cabbies once wouldn't dare to take you — is a thing long past, supplanted by NYU students and increasingly wealthy people, and the big box stores and restaurants they frequent, along with a smattering of high-end accoutrement. To anyone who fancies the East Village as a hip and lawless place to be, though, the question is this: Can a neighborhood retain any semblance of a reputation for edge when a "contemporary pet care hub" called Ruff Club not only opens there, on Avenue A in the East Village, but also gets a writeup in the New York Times' Thursday Styles?
These questions are not only rhetorical. This has happened. Let's examine what it might mean. Bob Morris, who writes the Times piece (and is a dog owner who took his own dog, a longhaired miniature dachshund named Zoloft, to the club), explains that the annual fee for the members-only establishment "isn't daunting" (it's $149, with additional fees to board; add your own "to anyone with money" to his quote). Also, there are processes involved! Your dog has to undergo a screening interview "almost as rigorous as any for private school" to gain membership into the club, which features an "old-fashion wooden bar, artisanal Brooklyn-made toile wallpaper and leather club chairs." Sounds about right for a dog club located near an artisanal water store; note, "the Ruff Club, which offers scholarships and community programs, does not screen humans for hipness."