Washington, DC, NW, Undisclosed Rowhouse - Roughly 40 late night partiers were lucky enough to celebrate a truly unusual, unique, and nearly unnoticed accomplishment on a predawn morning, in Washington DC, late winter 2023. Some talked about the historic moment they were a part of, while many others didn’t know the significance of the occasion at all, but all of them toasted a round of drinks, or raised a lit joint, and many railed a line of cocaine in celebration all the same.
One man took to the role of informing everyone in a hushed whisper, “This place has been here for 12 years! I’ve been coming since they opened.”
“This place” was a rowhouse in a quiet Northwest DC neighborhood that has been used for the last 12 years as an unlicensed private nightclub. Open all night long from midnight until sunrise, the club is open only to members and the friends they bring with them. The owner charges $20 per person at the door and $10 for top-shelf mixed drinks, $5 for beers, and nothing for water. Guests are welcome to explore two floors of nightclubs, with couches and tables scattered comfortably throughout. The kitchen and bathrooms are outfitted like a bar or restaurant.
One of the more unusual features of the makeshift night club is that the owner (or is the he the manager?) runs about the place begging everyone to be quiet. He did this once every 20 mins from 3am to 6:30am, when I left. And by “begging” I mean he angrily screamed at all of us in frighteningly hushed tones, “Everyone here needs to shut the fuck up! Or I will kick you the fuck out right now! And you will never be allowed back!”
The place got as hushed as a high school assembly after a speech from the principle. Then someone broke the silence with some back talk.
“Who said that?” the angry owner/manager shouted, spinning around the room to face his guests in all directions (most of whom were frozen in fear). “If I get one complaint from a neighbor, I’m gonna kick your ass and throw every one of you assholes out myself!”
As soon as the angry threats ended, conversation picked back up at the tables. Each sat about 10, and all were occupied by people doing line after line of cocaine. It was an amazing scene. How many nightclubs like this must there be in the world? In New York? In New Orleans? In Los Angeles? Wow! Such an underground scene must exist everywhere to those hip to it.
If nightclub home businesses such as this must proliferate on a global scale, how many of them exist in DC?
“Three,” says the man who made the anniversary announcement, who replies definitively when asked. “This one is the best one.”
“The safest. There were four. My friend got killed at that one. Shot.”
“Yeah, I mean…these aren’t the safest places if an argument breaks out. You never know.”
Wow. To put it in perspective: 12 years, still not shut down by police, and not one shooting.
The sun was coming up outside as people finally pulled on their coats and began to leave. People were going home, to work, to the airport, to the train station. Others were still drinking inside as if it wasn’t more than a few minutes past midnight.
Outside, DC was coming to life. The hum of rush hour could be heard through the dawn mist. The sun rose over the capitol dome peeking out beyond the roofs of the neighboring houses, where the inhabitants slept on, none the wiser.
No awards are given for this kind of achievement, so from HighTides Journal to the unnamed, unlicensed after hours members only nightclub—respect.
May you last another 12 years, and another 12 years after that!