When One Door Closes, Another Opens: The Resurgence of D.C. Music Venues
November 1, 2021 @ 12:00pm
D.C. was forced to say goodbye to many memory-filled clubs and music venues that permanently closed their doors over the past 20 months due to the pandemic. There is a silver lining, though: The closures allowed surviving venues to innovate and new ones to emerge. As we continue to transition to a post-shutdown world – while living in Covid limbo – there are a plethora of new venues popping up around the D.C. area. The District’s evenings are slowly beginning to buzz once more with eager concertgoers and clubgoers alike. From small venues to new theaters, here are some of the best venue changes and new spots keeping our music nightlife alive and thriving.
New in Town
9:30 Club Replica
The timeline is TBD, but the buzzworthy announcement from Dave Grohl at a surprise Foo Fighters concert last month has left the entire city in anticipation. It is set to be an exact replica of the original 9:30 Club. There’s a nostalgic factor — while piquing the curiosity of the newer generation who love the current venue. 2047 9th St. NW, DC; 930.com // @930club
Union Stage Group’s new addition Capital Turnaround is a truly unique venue. Formerly a historic car barn in the 1800s, this now 850-seat venue is already attracting touring musicians including The Milk Carton Kids, Richard Marx and Gus Johnson. 770 M St. SE, DC;
capitalturnaround.com // @capturnaround
Focus Social Club
The swanky new club Focus is helping bring H Street back to life. The three-level space is decked out with a marbled bar and hanging flowers. Nights dedicated to R&B, reggae and Afrobeat are frequent. Hookah is offered and happy hours extend to 8 p.m. Bonus: The space is also a restaurant and known to serve a solid brunch after a night out. 1348 H St. NE, DC; focusindc.com // @focussocialclub
Mayflower Club + Zebbie’s Garden
The new club and lounge lives up to its name: Flowers are anywhere and everywhere. Reminiscent of a fairyland, the pink and purple ambient lit space has cherry blossoms draping down from the ceilings, plant walls surrounding neon light art, and swings dotted throughout. Mayflower Club on the lower level is designated to craft cocktails and dining, while Zebbie’s upstairs is reserved for dancing. Expect rotating DJs, house music nights and many photos for Instagram.
1223 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; mayflowerclubdc.com // @zebbiesgarden
The Pocket // 7DrumCity
Opened in 2019 and overshadowed by the pandemic, this music venue and bar provides an intimate space for local musicians to perform. 7DrumCity is designated for people to learn and practice music by offering lessons and breakout rooms, while The Pocket serves as the venue for local acts to hold concerts and get their start. 1506 North Capitol St. NW, DC; thepocketdc.com // @thepocket_dc
Staying on trend with wildlife, this new venue only a few blocks from the White House, is adorned with bright green hanging plants cascading from the ceiling. The Babylon Group-owned club décor is a nod to Asian rainforests with lanterns and Buddhas. With a 27-foot bar, the large space is set to hold a crowd of 400. Artists like Trey Songz have already dropped by and you can expect club music from top hits, EDM and Latin. 727 15th St. NW, DC; sachi-dc.com // @sachinightclub
Twelve After Twelve
Despite a controversial start and agreeing to a name change, Twelve after Twelve — which is also owned by The Babylon Group — is providing D.C. nightlife with an eclectic Victorian-style dance and lounge. Formerly occupied by the Eighteenth Street Lounge, the venue has four dance floors and five bars and plays a variety of music that’s not always typical in a modern club. Soul, funk, jazz, and disco are all fair game. 1212 18th St. NW, DC; twelveaftertwelve-dc.com // @twelveaftertwelve
Tried + True
Blues Alley’s Jazz Club
56 years and still standing strong after a pandemic is a true feat. The 125-person Georgetown fixture has hosted some of the finest jazz performers through history including Miles Davis, Charlie Byrd and Eva Cassidy. Its reopening after murmurs of relocation or permanent closure is welcomed news.
1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; bluesalley.com // @bluesalleydc
As one of the only smaller indie venues booking both local and national bands left (RIP Rock & Roll Hotel and U Street Music Hall), DC9 carves out a much-needed spot for indie music fans — and they do not disappoint. DC9’s show lineup is packed with live music almost every night in the month of November — sans Thanksgiving week. 1940 9th St. NW, DC; dc9.club // @dc9club
Since expanding to a music venue three years ago, Pie Shop quickly became an H Street stalwart for indie, rock and punk music. Along with their delicious pie, Pie Shop curates a line-up of local and touring bands. 1339 H St. NE, DC; pieshopdc.com // @pieshopdc
Rhizome is a nonprofit community art space in Takoma. Pivoting from an indoor to outdoor music venue since the pandemic, they have been able to safely hold concerts and allow more Covid-wary people a chance to enjoy live music. The concerts feature an eclectic mix of music from local and east coast bands, with performative art shows peppered in through their event calendar.
6950 Maple St. NW, DC; rhizomedc.org // @rhizome_dc
We also interviewed and featured five of our favorite new and reopening locations. Read our coverage of Songbyrd Music House’s relocation here; the new comedy and jazz club Room 808 here; Comet Ping Pong’s outdoor concert series here; the upcoming ’70s themed venue The Runaway here; and Tyson’s new Capital One Hall here.
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