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18 All-Time Best Theme Bars in NYC + Tips from a Local

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Ready to get jiggy with it a la the late ’90s? If so then come with me as we swan dive into this list of the most epic and best theme bars in NYC.

Because this glorious list of the best themed bars in NYC was created by me, a 30+ year local New Yorker, who knows all about some of the coolest bars in NYC.

So, get ready to experience vibrant tiki bars, secret speakeasies, and macabre watering holes adorned with wax heads as we uncover all of the most unusual bars in NYC.

After all, this list is perfect for every type of traveler/New Yorker and features every type of bar imaginable, including beer halls, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and so much more.

Therefore, stop holding your breath and start learning about my personal picks for the most unique bars in NYC today so that you can enjoy all of the most fun things to do in NYC at night.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

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After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed. 

Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especialy since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic. 

Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.

Best Theme Bars in NYC – Manhattan

1. Cauldron NYC (Financial District)

Cauldron with bubbling liquid at one of the most unique restaurants in NYC.

Witches, warlocks, wizards, and hardcore Harry Potter fans unite because this is definitely one of the most unusual bars in NYC for you!

See, it’s located in the Bavaria Birhaus and has an array of different wizard-inspired, cocktail-making experiences for you to enjoy.

And all you have to do to get in on all the fun is grab a cauldron, have your wand at the ready, and make a reservation for a one hour and 45-minute long potion-making class where you can do brew three super magical drinks.

You can also enjoy a supremely whimsical, wizard-related afternoon tea here before checking out various evening events like karaoke on Wednesday, drags shows and drag bingo on Thursday, live DJs on the weekends, and ladies night on Sunday (aka 2 for 1 appetizers, $8 glasses of wine, and half-price bottles of wine).

Pro Tip: Hit up the historic Fraunces Tavern either before or after since it’s just a hoot and holler down the road.

Address: 47 Stone St, New York, NY 10004

Hours: Open Tuesday from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm, Wednesday from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, Thursday/Friday from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am, Saturday from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am, and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Price: Tickets for potion making start at $45 per person for off-peak tickets.

How to Get There: Take the 2/3 train to Wall Street or the 4/5 train to Bowling Green and walk from there.

2. Please Don’t Tell (aka PDT in East Village)

Easily one of the coolest themed bars in NYC right now, this secret, prohibition-era speakeasy has sleek, leather seats and sophisticated animal heads adorning the walls.

To get inside though, you’ll first need to enter a secret passcode into a non-descript, old-school telephone booth that sits outside Crif Dogs – a totally low-key, greasy spoon restaurant that serves legendary deep-fried hot dogs.

Then, once inside, you’ll be treated to a variety of epic, artisanal cocktails that were developed by Jim Meehan of Pegu fame.

And while the drinks ain’t cheap, they’re pretty dang good. You’ll also love the overall vibe of one of the most unique bars in NYC.

Pro Tip: Do yourself an epic favor and make a reservation since queues can be super long.

Address: 113 St Mark’s Place, New York, New York, 10009

Hours: Open Sunday to Thursday from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am and Friday/Saturday from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am.

Price: un-cheap

How to Get There: Take the 4 or 6 train to Astor Place and walk from there.

3. Beetle House (East Village)

Spooky interior of Beetle House with a black light at one of the best Themed bars in NYC.
Image sourced from Beetle House.

If you love Halloween, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and all sorts of ghoulish things that go bump in the night, then this is the perfect themed bar in New York City for you!

Because at this bar and restaurant in the East Village, Halloween is celebrated 365 days of the year. And you know what?

That’s kind of perfect since gravestones are everywhere, surgical gear is dangling from the walls, and costumed actors/servers actually come to your table and serve you delectable delights like Sweeny Shroom (grilled and marinated Portobello mushroom with garlic mash, mushroom sauce, peppers, and scallions) and Chesire Mac and Cheese (Do you sense a Tim Burton theme here?).

Add in some ghoulishly fun drinks like the Coco Skellington with rum, gin, orange blossom, pineapple juice, and coconut, and you have one of the top theme bars in New York City.

Just be forewarned that everything here is very much not cheap. Although, that isn’t really all that surprising since you’re here for the experience more than anything else.

Pro Tip: Don’t eat here and just grab a beverage of your choice.

Address: 308 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

Hours: Open Sunday and Wednesday from 4:00 pm to 12:00 am and Thursday through Saturday from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am.

Price: Drinks start at $14.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the 6 train to Astor Place or the R/W train to 8th Street station and walk from there.

4. Apotheke (Chinatown)

This amazing bar on Doyers Street is part European apothecary, part sleek speakeasy, part pharmacy, part laboratory, and part old-world absinthe den of wonder.

In fact, the science theme here is so strong that bartenders wear lab coats, and often refer to drinks as “prescriptions”.

The decor here though is pretty sleek and includes whitewashed, exposed brick walls, small round tables with long white table clothes, old-world, parlor-like sofas, dark tile floors, and ample lighting.

That being said though, you may have trouble finding it since it’s really only denoted by a rogue sign that says “Chemist” (it’s also easy to accidentally walk into the bar next door).

However, once you finally do walk through the door, head to the bar adorned with old vials and try either the Tainted Love (Gin with beets, pomegranate shrub, ruby port, bitters, lime, and agave) and the Pink Panther (rum with palo santo, blood orange, pink guava, coconut milk, lime, and agave) cocktail since both are super good.

Pro Tip: Arrive early since seating is limited and this place gets hella crowded.

Address: 9 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 6:30 pm to 2:00 am, except on Sundays when they close at 12:00 am.

Price: Cocktails are between $14 and $16 each.

How to Get There: Take the N/R/6 train to Canal Street or the D train to Grand Street and walk from there.

5. Beauty Bar (Gramercy)

Traditional Martini with three olives.

First started in 1995 and now with locations all across the good old US of A, Beauty Bar is one of those next-level magical theme bars in New York City where you can get a martini AND a manicure for just $10.00!

Yup, crazy but totally true. Therefore, beeline to Gramercy and gather around the old-school, domed hairdryers of yesteryear as you party like it’s 1955 it’s this vintage hair salon-inspired bar.

Just be sure to bust out some wicked awesome moves on the small dance floor in the back before enjoying a wide array of DJs, comedy shows, and burlesque shows that are routinely on offer here.

Pro Tip: Stop by before 10:00 pm for their signature $10.00, drink and manicure special. Also, dig into their hot dogs and frozen margaritas since both are delish.

Address: 231 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 5:00 pm to 4:00 am.

Price: The manicure/martini special starts at $10 per person.

How to Get There: Take the N/Q/R/W train to Union Square and walk from there.

6. Otto’s Shrunken Head (East Village)

Bartender making a drink in a Tiki-themed glass at one of the best them bars in NYC.

This snazzy, Polynesian/tiki bar themed watering hole in the East Village is nothing fancy, but it’s a fun place to chill if you enjoy live music, comedy nights, variety shows, and fun movie nights.

So, while you admire lights made of cotton candy-colored blowfish and walls adorned with over-the-top tropical prints a la the ’50s, sip on cool, mostly rum-based island-themed drinks like Otto’s Octane and Pinky’s Potion – some even glow in the dark or are served to you with flames.

These drinks also come in super rad, totally unique tiki mugs that do require a $10.00 deposit from you.

But, on the plus side, you can always let one of the best theme bars in NYC keep your money and take the glass home as a fun souvenir.

Also, be sure to check out the large backroom which is great for dancing and regularly hosts live DJs/rock or rockabilly bands amidst bamboo-lined walls (the bamboo really improves the sound quality).

Pro Tip: The Shrunken Head and Volcano Blast are also really good drinks that are perfect for a group to share.

Address: 538 E 14th St, New York, NY 10009

Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 4:00 pm to 1:00 am.

Price: Drinks are $15.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the L train to 1st Avenue and walk from there.

7. Sid’s Gold Request Room

This somewhat campy piano bar in Chelsea is a great place to go if you enjoy live music (from a Baldwin Baby Grand) and want to karaoke the night away with a group of your fave gal pals.

So, think of it as the ideal hangout for somewhat grown-up theater kids.

Now, after being welcomed in by a snazzily dressed, pink bowtie-wearing gentleman, you can either stay at the somewhat calmer, marble front bar or pass through a velvet curtain to enjoy a raucous party in the back.

Just brace yourself because at around 9:00 pm each night, karaoke will start in the backroom and patrons will bound out of their respective booths to sing show tunes while accompanied by live piano music.

You can also order delectable pizza and pigs in a blanket while drinking epic cocktails like The Strawberry Fields (rum, lime, pineapple, cinnamon, and strawberry) and the Always on My Mind (vodka, lemon, honey, mint, and blackberry).

Pro Tip: Stop by on Monday night for $10.00 performances from various local artists. They also have happy hour on Thursdays and Fridays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm where you can get $2.00 off well drinks and wine.

Address: 165 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001

Hours: Open Monday through Wednesday from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am, Thursday from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am, Friday from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am, Saturday from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am, and Sunday from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am.

Price: Cocktails are $15 each.

How to Get There: Take the 2/N/R train to 28th Street station and walk from there.

8. Trailer Park Lounge and Grill (Chelsea)

Juke box, highway signs, Christmas lights, and other things adorn the interior of Trailer Park Lounge.
Image sourced from Trailer Park Lounge.

Contrary to what you might think, this super chill, trailer park/roadhouse-themed bar is actually found in the fancy pants neighborhood of Chelsea.

It is also one of the best theme bars in NYC that serves up iconic, American, greasy spoon/diner-inspired cuisine like the Grilled Fat Dog and glorious, homemade moon pies (both are my personal faves).

But, if neither of those menu options appeals to you, then you can always order wings, burgers, or tater tots instead.

So, embrace the wickedly wonderful trailer park kitsch of rogue photo booths and bowling alley seats before visiting the tiki bar with its delicious frozen margarita and Paradise Hawaiian Style cocktail (three types of rum, passionfruit juice, and pineapple brandy).

Address: 271 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

Hours: Open daily from 4:00 pm to 12:00 am.

Price: Cocktails start at like $11.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the 1/C/E train to 23rd Street station and walk from there.

9. Barcade (East Village)

Vintage arcade games.

If you’re a gamer of the most epic propotions then mosey on over to Barcade, one of the best theme bars in NYC with a distinct, arcade vibe about it.

Just imagne it as a more adult version of Dave and Busters that started in Williamsburg in 2004, where the games are $0.50 each and the only prize you get is being really drunk by the end of the night.

Yup, it’s easily one of the most popular themed bars in NYC since Barcade now has locations scattered throughout the USA.

And that makes sense since extensive drink lists (with lots of American craft beer) and old-school arcade games kind of go together like PB & J.

So, channel your inner child and go balls to the wall while playing classics like Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, and Pacman.

Pro Tip: Don’t visit on the weekends since, hi, it’s packed. Also, order an IPA and eat before you stop by since there’s not much food to speak of.

Address: 148 W 24th St, New York, NY 10011

Hours: Open daily from 2:00 pm to 2:00 am, with extended hours until 4:00 am on Friday and Saturday.

Price: Cocktails are $14 each and most games are around $0.50 each.

How to Get There: Take the 1 train to 23rd Street station wand walk from there.

10. KGB Bar (Ukrainian Village)

KGB Bar is one of the epic theme bars in NYC. It has some quirky history that you can delve into. Like the fact that the owner couldn’t legally get it to be named KGB so he named it Kraine Gallery bar. It’s located in the Ukrainian neighborhood of NYC and you can see how it got its name. 

They’ve currently adapted to support the Ukrainian people and you can even check out all the ways that they plan on helping.

The cool bar features snippets of the Soviet era and gives its patrons a very cool atmosphere to kick back in. The vodka kahula is one of the highly recommended drinks on the menu and you can’t go wrong with any of the traditional cocktails either.

Pro Tip: The KGB bar also organizes events almost every day. You can check out and see if any of them pick your fancy. It is a great place to meet local artists and it doesn’t really matter which genre. You’ll find that they host music events, literary events and even craft events. In short, there is something for everyone.

Address: 85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003, United States

Hours: Open everyday from 7am – 4pm

Price: Drinks start at $12

How To Get There: The closest bus stop is 2 avenue & East 6 avenue.

11. Burp Castle (East Village)

Bartender serving up beer at Randolph Beer.

Do you have an undying love for beer and for some of the best breweries in NYC? If so then this is easily one of the best themed bars in NYC for you!

After all, this super cool, monastery-themed bar has elaborate medieval mosaics adorning the walls – depicting overt religious and nautical scenes – and is known for being a supremely cool place where patrons come to basically pay homage to all things beer.

In fact, if you’re lucky, you may even spot a rogue bartender or two donning monk’s robes as they sling drinks with Gregorian chants quietly playing in the background.

So, stop by today and sample one of 12 beers on tap or one of over 40 bottled beers that have been imported from beer meccas like Germany, Belgium, the UK, and more.

Highlights (aka must-trys) include Duvel, Delirium, Peche (peach beer), Framboise (raspberry), and Triple Karmeliet (a blond beer served in a wine glass).

Just do yourself a solid and try not to talk too loudly since plaques are scattered throughout one of the best theme bars in NYC to remind you to speak in a whisper – you know, to keep the whole monastery theme going.

Pro Tip: Can’t get into one of the best theme bars in NYC? Then hit up Black and White or the Boiler Room instead. Both are great dive bars in the area. Also, happy hour is on weekdays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm and you get $1.00 off tap beers.

Address: 41 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am and Saturday/Sunday from 4:00 pm to 1:00 am.

Price: Beers start at around $7.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the 6 train to Astor Place and walk from there.

12. Oscar Wilde (Nomad)

Oscar Wilde is a really cool Vicorian themed bar. With ornate decor and images, you can immerse yourself into the romance and history of the era.

Keep your eye out for hidden quotes. You will find them all over the bar and it is one of my favorite things to do when I visit.

You’ll find that the food here is tasty. The cocktails however are where Oscar Wilde shines. The menu is varied and pretty creative if you ask me. If you aren’t sure what to order, just start up a conversation with the bartender. They are pretty easy going and are known for their charm!

If you love whisky, you definitely need to check out their enormous whiskey collection. I found myself browsing through it even though I wasn’t going to order one. The arrangement is just so cool!

Pro Tip: Generally the brunch menu is pretty limited. If you truly want to enjoy this spot, head here for dinner!

Address: 45 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001, United States

Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 4pm – 1am, Thursday – Friday: 4pm – 2am, Saturday: 11am – 2am and Sunday: 11am – 1am

Price: The speciality cocktails start at $16

How To Get There: The closest subway station is 28 St.

Best Theme Bars in NYC – Brooklyn

13. Jupiter Disco (East Williamsburg)

This poppin’ bar is a bit hard to find since it’s basically on a super deserted block. But, if you cooly ask the bouncer where one of the top theme bars in NYC is, I know they’ll point you in the right direction.

And trust me, you’ll want to find this bar since is has a super cool, retro, dystopian sci-fi theme that is perfectly complemented by an industrial style bar that is bathed in neon lighting.

So, do expect to find neon, tube lights plastered all over the ceiling as you sip on fun, space-inspired drinks like AM Radio (Gin, Campari, Italicus Bergamot, Lemon, Maraschino, and Orange Bitters).

After that, you can either hunker down in turquoise booths or dance the night away as you enjoy electronic/techno music blasted out by live DJs from the bar’s top-notch coun system.

If you want, you can also swing by for happy hour (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm daily) and get $5.00 whiskey shots, $8.00 classic cocktails, $6.00 high balls, and $2.00 off draft beers.

Pro Tip: Follow them on Instagram to stay up to date about any upcoming events. Also, try to come early on the weekend (like around 11:00 pm) so you can dance to the music before one of the best theme bars in NYC gets super crowded.

Address: 1237 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am, and until 4:00 am Thursday through Saturday.

Price: Cocktails start at $14 each.

How to Get There: Take the L to Jefferson Street and walk from there.

14. La Milagrosa (Willamsburg)

Tequilla cocktails with orange from one of the best themed bars in NYC.

Brought to you by the owner of Cerveceria Havemeyer, this local watering hole is semi-hidden behind a local Mexican deli.

Therefore, you will have to walk through a freezer door just to gain access to this Mexican-inspired speakeasy.

However, upon entering you’ll discover an exciting, mezcal tasting room that is known for its stellar music and delicious ceviche.

Look around the dim bar and you’ll see a disco ball, an old-school jukebox, curved walls with mismatched wood, and votive candles that honor the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.

Next, head to the bar and sample any of their mezcal, tequila-based cocktails, and agave spirits before dancing to a wide array of music (from various genres) that is blasted out on their high-def sound system.

Just be sure to call and make a reservation any time after 6:00 pm since they are required to get into one of the best theme bars in NYC.

Also, try to order either The Jamaica ($11) (hibiscus tea, Cointreau, orange bitters, and lime) or The New Fashion (old fashioned but with mezcal) for a fun drink experience while at one of the top themed bars in NYC.

Pro Tip: This place is cash only and the deli serves really good sandwiches and smoothies. It’s also small so try to get here early.

Address: 149 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Hours: Open Friday from 8:00 pm to 12:00 am, Saturday from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am, and Sunday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Price: Cocktails start at $11.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the L to Bedford Avenue and walk from there.

15. House of Wax (Downtown Brooklyn)

Not so hidden away in downtown Brooklyn is one of the best theme bars in NYC that is an outpost of the famous Alamo Drafthouse franchise.

So, as you might have already surmised, it’s part wax museum and part movie theater, easily making this one of the weirdest and simultaneously coolest themed bars in NYC.

Therefore, prepare to walk down one giant hallway that is lined with all sorts of macabre things like death masks, wax heads, monkey bones, model fetuses, and more.

That’s why, if you’re looking to get your dark tourist swerve on then this is one of the most unique bars in NYC that you should add to your bar-hopping itinerary.

Now, after ogling all these next-level bizarre oddities, make your way to the house bar – which is designed to mimic panoptic touring attractions from the late 1800s – and order fun themed drinks like Venus (tropical rum drink with sparkling wine) and Lolita Nymph (gin, orange, and basil).

Just skip the food since it’s not all that cheap and nothing to write home about. But, to be honest, you’ll probably already be stuffed with popcorn from that movie you just watched.

Pro Tip: If you’re into beer, they also have 38 beers to choose from and various ciders on tap too.

Address: 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (on the 4th floor, across from ticketing for the movies)

Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 4:00 pm to the last showing and Friday/Saturday from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am.

Price: Between $13 and $14 each for a cocktail.

How to Get There: Take the 2/3 train to Hoyt Street and walk from there.

16. Boobie Trap (Bushwick)

This supremely unique, somewhat R-rated bar in Brooklyn is brimming over with highly sexualized, B-movie memorabilia that all the big kids will love.

Add in trolls dolls a la the ’90s, a naked mannequin that duals as a draft for beer, and some pretty cheap drinks (domestic tallboys are only $4.00 -$7.00 each), and you have one of the best theme bars in NYC.

Yeah, not gonna lie, the only thing cooler than the beer dispensing mannequin is the collection of rubber boobs on the bathroom ceiling and the insane barbie chandelier that hangs in the bar itself.

You can also pass the time by coloring in a super sweet, nude coloring book or by playing one of several iconic board games, like Monopoly.

Just be sure to order some cajun mac and cheese and jalapeno cornbread muffins since, surprise, the food here is insanely good.

Address: 308 Bleecker St, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 4:00 am, except on Sundays when they close at 12:00 am.

Price: Cocktails start at $10 each.

How to Get There: Take the L Train to the Myrtle/Wyckoff Avenue stop and walk from there.

17. Skinny Dennis (Williamsburg)

Brought to you by the owners of Luckydog, this honky tonk dive bar in Williamsburg is one of the best theme bars in NYC that is basically the antithesis of chic.

But, what this wacky place lacks in refinement, it more than makes up for with wonderfully weird decor that includes a portrait of Willie Nelson, discarded peanut shells on the floor, and taxidermied animals all over the walls.

So, grab a seat on a Ford F100 pickup bench from 1981 or an older church pew and order from a menu full of fun drinks like bourbon mint sweet tea (served in a giant mason jar), Dr. G (Guinness and Dr. Pepper), and Willie’s frozen coffee (It’s the house special and totally amazing).

Just try and stop by on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights so that you can hear live country music and participate in fun beer games.

Pro Tip: Stop by for Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm, to get $1.00 off draft/can beer and $3.00 well drinks. They also have a Tito’s Tuesday special where you can get $4.00 Tito Lemonad and $2.00 Tito shots.

Address: 152 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 4:00 am.

Price: Beers start at $4.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the L train to Bedford Avenue or the J/M/Z train to Marcy Avenue and walk from there.

18. The Commodore (Williamsburg)

Fried chicken on a plate with all the fix-ins.

Without a doubt, this is the most divey of dive bars on this list of the best theme bars in NYC.

However, I’m totally okay with that since this low-key, nautical-inspired gastropub in Williamsburg has vintage arcade games, cheap AF bar food, and old-school tunes for anyone who wants to get a little wasty pants on a day that ends in “Y”.

Therefore, you should 100% grab a seat on a vintage barstool or a lawn chair out back and order the Commodore (a frozen pin colada. with amaretto) to sip on while admiring the fish on the walls.

Because even though the service isn’t awesome, you can get delicious food like a hot fish sandwich (cajun fried fish on a toasted sesame roll), Pork du jour (bbq pork with pinto beans), and fried chicken (with sweet/spicy vinegar sauce, biscuits, and honey butter) from renowned chef Stephen Tanner.

Pro Tip: This is one of the few themed bars in NYC where locals come for the fried chicken and not really the drinks. Because, yeah, they really do serve some of the best fried chicken in the city.

Address: 366 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am and on weekends from 2:00 pm to 4:00 am.

Price: Beer is $3.00 and the fried chicken is around $13.00.

How to Get There: Take the L train to Bedford Avenue and walk from there.

Map of the Best Theme Bars in NYC

Map of the best theme bars in NYC.
Clicke here for the full map.

Additional New York Resources You’ll Love

Well, that just about wraps up this epic guide to the top theme bars in NYC.

Tell me, did your pick for the top themed bars in NYC make this list? If not then let me know in the comments below!

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