In keeping with this month’s vinyl theme, we caught up with the folks behind three of the city’s best dives with vinyl-only DJs and dance parties. Whether you’re in Bloomingdale, Brookland or the U Street Corridor, these bars have you covered when it comes to good tunes and solid drink options to boot.
Head Bartender, Showtime Lounge
On Tap: What do you think sets Showtime apart from other local dives?
Tariq Haqq: We don’t show sports and we allow dancing – the opposite of most dives.
OT: How would you describe the vibe here? Who hangs at Showtime?
TH: We get a lot of people from the neighborhood [Bloomingdale], for sure. A lot of young, urban professionals.
OT: What’s your favorite beer on tap at Showtime?
TH: 3 Stars; they’re the most consistent of the local breweries we carry.
OT: Favorite mixed drink/shot to serve?
TH: Who am I kidding? Jägerbombs. But we stopped carrying the ingredients, so now I like something called Wild Africa. It’s a cream liqueur.
OT: What about customer favorites?
TH: Everyone likes the Natty Boh/shot deal. It’s only $5. People like drinking Natty Boh because it makes them feel local by drinking a Baltimore beer.
OT: Best song on Paul Vivari’s [the owner] jukebox?
TH: #4805: “The Prowler” by The Idols
OT: Who are your favorite DJs who play here regularly?
TH: All the DJs are legit. Paul has done a good job making sure they are. They only use records, ya know? I guess Retrospect Lantern. He’s the illist!
OT: You’re also a DJ. Where do you play as DJ Pharaoh Haqq?
TH: I DJ once a month at Dew Drop Inn. I also do a night with a homie of mind at Haydee’s in Mount Pleasant. It’s super fun! It’s called Shout Bamalama. We do 50s and 60s stuff; usually a lot of dancing.
OT: What kind of music do you play?
TH: Mostly 50s and 60s R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. But I’ve really been getting into trap and punk. I’m trying to spin more stuff like that. Ya know, like Drake and Black Flag.
Showtime Lounge: 113 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC; www.facebook.com/showtimebardc/
Bartender/Music Booker, Dew Drop Inn
On Tap: What’s on tap at Dew Drop?
Andy Fox: We have an excellent selection of draft beers including La Fin du Monde, Bitburger, Köstritzer and two rotating IPAs. There’s something for everyone!
OT: What about mixed drinks?
AF: A fully stocked bar allows us to make mixed drinks with a wide variety of liquors. When it’s warm, we offer “frozen” drinks. All of these drinks can be enjoyed on our awesome outdoor deck where you can watch – and many times feel – the trains going by.
OT: How often does Dew Drop host DJs?
AF: We have DJs regularly Thursday through Saturday nights. Any night can turn into a dance party.
OT: When did you first start hosting vinyl-only DJs? Who is in your current rotation?
AF: We have had vinyl-only DJs on the schedule since we opened. Right now, in addition to Baby Alcatraz, we have DJ Lap Aura, DJ Pharaoh Haqq and DJ Diaspora. DJ Smile Now Cry Later is all vinyl and spins often with Baby Alcatraz. And DJs Matt V and Many Spaceships fill in when necessary. DJ Retrospect [Lantern] will occasionally bring vinyl.
OT: Do most of the vinyl-only DJs have a retro sound?
AF: DJ Pharaoh Haqq often appears elsewhere in DC with Baby Alcatraz, and has a similar aesthetic but probably few overlapping songs. DJ Lap Aura spins an eclectic mix, often veering toward post-punk and garage. DJ Diaspora plays brokebeat, jazz, house and afrobeat.
OT: What else happens at Dew Drop besides vinyl dance parties?
AF: Our second anniversary party is coming up in June. We host trivia every Tuesday, [and] live music on Mondays and many Sundays. When the weather is good, every night is perfect for sitting on our deck and having a sandwich [Fox recommends the pay-by-the-inch Italian sub or veggie sweet potato burrito] with your favorite drink.
Dew Drop Inn: 2801 8th St. NE, DC; www.dewdropinndc.com
Manager/Part Owner, Velvet Lounge
On Tap: How would you describe the vibe at Velvet?
Abdullah Kayoumy: To me, it’s a very honest place. It’s real. This is a place where you come and f—ing relax, you know? There’s writing on the walls and stuff. This is a place of expression.
OT: Who hangs out here?
AK: It’s a dive, and everybody comes to a dive. I don’t encourage anything. I just pour drinks and let [people] do what they want to do [laughs]. That’s the beauty of this location. You get tons of people coming through here.
OT: Tell me about your vinyl-only nights.
AK: We have that kind of show on the second Friday of the month. Typically, either Soul Call Paul [Showtime’s owner] or Baby Alcatraz. Those are my legit all-vinyl shows.
OT: What kind of vinyl do they play?
AK: They’ve got a great selection and inventory. They know how to put it all together. It’s not only about having great records; it’s about playing it in a good order. I love their music. I really enjoy it. I think that 50s soul music belongs in a place like this. It’s a nice change-up, because normally we play to the hip-hop crowd. We play house music sometimes too.
OT: What mixed drink do customers order most frequently?
AK: This is a shot and beer place. We’ll serve ginger ale and anything [laughs]. There’s really no cocktail here.
OT: What beers do you guys carry?
AK: I try to keep shit as simple as possible, man. I don’t have fruit. There’s not much selection here. You just take what you get. I think people like the simplicity.
Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com
Jägermeister (sometimes from his hand) and Pabst Blue Ribbon combo