Lesbian bar Phase 1 has been just steps from the Eastern Market Metro stop since it opened in 1970, but as of Friday night, there will be a second location in Dupont Circle.
Apex closed its doors in July without advance notice. Owner Glen Thompson, who also owns the nearby gay bar Omega, sold Apex to Alan Carroll, the owner of the D.C. gay clubs Ziegfelds/Secrets and the lesbian club Phase 1. This weekend, Carroll opens a new club in the Apex building at 22nd and P streets, N.W., that will cater to a mostly lesbian clientele.
The club will open in the space that formerly housed Badlands and Apex with a refinished dance floor, updated sound system, new lights and bright pink paint on the walls in the back.
It has been a long-term goal of Carroll’s to open a larger venue, according to Angela Lombardi, longtime manager of the original Phase 1, and with Apex closing, it just seemed right.
“A lot of lesbians live in Northwest and it’s a popular gay part of town,” Lombardi says of the Dupont area.
The new location will feature much more space than the original and is being touted as the East Coast’s largest lesbian bar.
Size isn’t the only difference between the two locations. The vibe will be a little different too.
“Phase 1 … is the kind of place where you can sit down and have a conversation with the bartender,” Lombardi says of the vibe. “Phase 1 Dupont, we’re going to be more super-high volume, louder music, more dancing and just straight-up partying as opposed to just chilling … like at old school Phase.”
The grand opening weekend will feature a lineup of DJs including DJs Rosie and Natty Boom on Friday and DJs Ri-Mix and Joshua on Saturday.
The club will most likely have rotating DJs with a possible regular DJ in the back bar once it finds its footing.
“We want to keep people interested and have a bunch of variety,” Lombardi says. “We’re going to try to do some more indie queer stuff and some more off-the-wall events in that back bar too.”
They are also working on getting the D.C. Kings and the D.C. Gurly Show performing at the new location.
“All the people that have supported us at the old Phase … we would love for them to come to the new venue,” Lombardi says of the performance groups.
They might have some monthly events, but for the most part, the club will only be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
One new weekly event is already planned. Steve Dellerba, longtime manager and one of the part owners of Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, which Carroll owns as well, will be running Jock U, an event that will cater to men.
“It will be open to everybody, but it is a men’s night,” Dellerba says. “With the club being predominately for women the other night, we wanted one night geared toward the men and give something back to them.”
The weekly event will feature a rotation of DJs including Randy White, DJ Wess, Joey O and more and the bartenders will be wearing athletic attire such as wrestling, football and soccer gear.
For the kickoff party on Thursday, DJ Steven Henderson from Chicago will be in the main room and there will be an amateur DJ competition in the video room, the winner of which will win a free night at Secrets on the main floor.
“We wanted to find some new talent,” Dellerba says. “We had … a lot of guys coming out who wanted to play so we said, why don’t we just let everyone play a little bit and we’ll see who’s the best.”
The night will also feature go-go boys, Absolut shot boys and a few special surprises throughout the night.
The kickoff will be sponsored by Universal Gear, Absolut, Red Bull and Cherry 2012.
For the most part, Phase’s Jell-O wrestling events will remain at the original location, except during Pride season.
“It was so insane this year at the old location, that we probably will take it to the new location,” Lombardi says.
The new location will probably bring some changes to PhaseFest, the bar’s annual indie queer music fest, this year as well.
The first night will most likely stay at the original location but then Friday and Saturday night will be at Dupont.
“We’re kind of already talking about it,” Lombardi says. “Having such a higher capacity venue really opens up the door to having some really big names. It should give us a lot more wiggle room and more options to really see how big we can take it this year.”
Like the original, the Dupont location will be a 21-and-older club.
“I feel their pain,” Lombardi says of the younger lesbians without their own place to party. “I know that Apex successfully did it, but it’s just not something [Carroll] really wants to take on.”
Lombardi will be co-managing the new location with Dellerba and says she will miss the original location.
“I’ve been there for seven years,” Lombardi says. “Basically, everyone who works there is my family on some level. I like being behind the bar. It’s going to be kind of weird and different managing a club of this size.”
The Dupont location doesn’t mean she won’t be at the original Phase. Lombardi will still be found there every Thursday night and on Sundays for special events.
“Those two days back … are gonna keep me grounded,” she says.