Over the past two years, a plethora of new music venues popped up in D.C. for eager concert and club-goers alike. Check out some of our favorite spots helping to revitalize the city’s nightlife scene.
NOTE: The original article ran in our November 2021 print issue and has recently been updated to include new venue additions.
An exact replica of the original 9:30 Club, this location is all about nostalgia — it’s a small space that reminds us of the old days at grungy venues, but this one is anything but grunge.
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.
Focus Social Club
The swanky 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.
Mayflower Club + Zebbie’s Garden
The 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.
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.
Staying on trend with wildlife, this 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We also interviewed and featured five of our favorite new and notable locations. Read our coverage of Songbyrd Music House’s relocation here; the 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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