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Major changes coming to gay nightlife scene

Phase opens new bar, Mova set to reopen

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The building used by the former gay nightclub Apex will be the home of a new lesbian nightclub called Phase 1 of Dupont, just one of several additions to the LGBT nightlife scene. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

News that the building used by the former Dupont Circle gay nightclub Apex will be the home of a new lesbian nightclub called Phase 1 of Dupont represents the first of a series of changes in D.C.’s gay bar scene expected to unfold over the next several months.

The Phase 1 of Dupont will become a branch of the Capitol Hill lesbian bar Phase 1, which holds the distinction of being D.C.’s longest continuously operating gay bar. It’s owned by Allen Carroll, who also owns Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, a gay nightclub in the Buzzard’s Point section of Southwest D.C.

Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is nationally known for its drag shows and nude male dancers. In 2009 it became the only one of the popular gay nightspots displaced by Washington Nationals Stadium to reopen in a new location.

Marty Chernoff, the owner of Ziegfeld’s/Secrets’ current building at 1824 Half Street, S.W., said Carroll recently leased an adjoining building that Chernoff owns, raising speculation that Carroll may be planning to open yet another club or use the new space to expand Ziegfeld’s/Secrets.

Carroll couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“They are obviously very good tenants,” Chernoff said of Ziegfeld’s/Secrets. “I’ve known Allen Carroll for more than 30 years and he runs a very good shop over there.”
Chernoff said he doesn’t know what Carroll’s plans are for the adjoining building but he would be happy to help in any way he could as the landlord should Carroll decide to use the space for another bar or club.

With prospects unclear about the timing of expected real estate development in the Buzzard’s Point area where Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is located, Chernoff said he gave Carroll an option to retain his lease for at least eight more years.

With the extended lease option, Carroll would be protected from displacement by development as long as the city doesn’t exercise its authority to invoke eminent domain to force businesses to move from the area, as it did to clear the way for the new baseball stadium.
Across town, the lounge and bar Mova, which operated until earlier this year at 1435 P St., N.W., plans to reopen in October in its new location at 2204 14th St., N.W., according to owner Babak Movahedi.

The new building, in the midst of the rapidly developing 14th Street entertainment corridor, has a roof deck that Movahedi said will accommodate smokers. It’s located at the corner of 14th and W streets.

Movahedi said the new Mova obtained its liquor license in July and is awaiting a city construction permit to complete interior renovation work. He said he welcomes the opening of other gay bars and clubs, including Phase 1 of Dupont.

“I believe the more bars and clubs that open in the gay community, the better it is for all of us,” he said.

In a separate development, LGBT residents and regular patrons of gay bars in the popular 17th Street entertainment area near Dupont Circle have been following with interest plans for the opening of Uproar Lounge and Restaurant, which is expected to cater to a gay clientele.

In a promotional campaign on Facebook, the new establishment’s executive vice president, Chad Cox, and manager, Paul Mecredy, have announced they planned to open this summer at 1603 17th St., N.W., a basement space that served as home to the former Club Chaos, a gay bar.

But residents of the building, which includes residential apartments on the upper floors, say the space where Uproar plans to open remains largely an empty shell. Residents received a notice recently from the property manager that construction work in the space would begin soon.

Cox and Mecredy did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A phone number to reach the owners or managers is not included on the Facebook page or on Uproar’s separate website.
A spokesperson for the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration said no one has come forward as of this week to apply for a transfer of the Chaos liquor license, which must take place before a new establishment seeking to serve alcoholic beverages can open.

A message by popular D.C. drag performer Monet Dupree, whom sources say will play some role Uproar’s operation, states, “It’s coming soon…changing the gay life style again in D.C….Uproar DC…Come get you a piece.”

A May 11 posting on its Facebook page announced that Uproar Lounge and Restaurant is “now hiring,” saying it was accepting applications for bartender, servers, kitchen staff, barbacks, and security personnel.

Under the city’s liquor law, the new establishment would have to apply for and obtain an “entertainment endorsement” to the restaurant license that Chaos had in order to allow any live entertainment, dancing or music played by a DJ, said ABRA spokesperson Cynthia Simms.

Nearby residents filed a protest against Chaos before ABRA to oppose the renewal of Chaos’s liquor license on grounds that it violated the law by offering those forms of entertainment without first obtaining an entertainment endorsement. Some Chaos customers said opposition from nearby residents who filed a legal protest against Chaos prompted the owner to eventually close the bar.

A liquor license moratorium for the 17th Street entertainment strip would prevent Uproar from obtaining a new liquor license, including a nightclub license, according to activists familiar with the D.C. nightlife scene. The only way it can open is to secure a transfer of the existing license held by Chaos, which ABRA spokesperson Simms says is being held by ABRA in “safe keeping.”

 

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Bars & Parties

Beyonce vs. Rihanna dance party

Music provided by DJ Just Different at Union Stage

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R² Productions LLC and Union Stage are teaming up to host  R² Productions’ inaugural “MEGA Dance Party” on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Union Stage at The Wharf.

The event will be a night full of dancing to music by pop stars Beyonce and Rihanna. DJ Just Different will be performing at the event. 

General Admission tickets cost $25 and Premier Plus tickets cost $35. For more information about ticket purchases, visit Union Stage’s website.

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Miscellaneous

The evolution of the open house

The more sophisticated the advertising, the more the events flourished

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From car giveaways in the 1950s to today’s QR codes and virtual events, agents have used diverse strategies to draw buyers to open houses.

In the early 20th century, there were no exclusive agreements between a seller and a real estate agent. Any broker who knew of someone wanting to sell could participate in an “open listing” by planting his sign in the yard of that person and competing with agents from other brokerages who did the same. To the victor who obtained a buyer went the spoils of commission.

The rules began to change in 1919, when being a real estate broker now required a license. An agent might handle only one property at a time exclusively, but an “open for inspection” period could be used to introduce a model home or new community to the buying population. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, Dallas homebuilder, Howdy Howard, hosted one of the most successful open houses of all time in the 1950s. During the first 12 days of the event, an estimated 100,000 people attended, drawn by free sodas and the ultimate prize for the buyer – a new Cadillac.

Soon, brokers began hiring additional agents who could handle multiple properties. Unlike Howard’s marathon open house, agents would now host them for a few hours at a time, usually on a Sunday, to whet the appetite of the buyer pool. 

Classified advertisements with a description of a property would be placed in a local newspaper and potential buyers would review them with their morning coffee to decide which houses to visit later in the day. 

Marketing in newspapers went from a few lines of black and white text to a photo of a home’s exterior, to a multi-page spread that included both photos of houses and the agents who represented them.

The more sophisticated the advertising became, the more the open house flourished as a marketing tool, not only for the home itself, but also for the agent and the brokerage. It allowed agents to prospect for buyers for that home and others, and converse with neighbors who might want to sell their homes as well. 

Soon, the sign-in sheet was born, used by the agent to capture the contact information of a potential client or customer and to let the seller know who had visited his home. While sign-in sheets or cards are still used, some agents have gravitated to electronic applications, using a tablet computer instead of paper for the same purpose.

Fast forward to the early 2000s in D.C., when open houses became the primary source of showing property. An agent would enter a property into the multiple listing service (MLS) on a Thursday, entertain no showings until Saturday, host an open house on Sunday afternoon, and call for offers either Sunday night or Monday. The open house allowed agents to send their buyers rather than accompany them and serve multiple clients at once.  

The delayed showing day strategy referenced above has since been supplanted by the MLS’s Coming Soon status. Agents can now email or text links to upcoming properties to their clients in advance of showing availability and the clients can view photos, read property descriptions and disclosures, and schedule future visits accordingly.

Enter COVID-19. Due to the proliferation of the virus and the subsequent lockdown, the real estate world had to accommodate new public health requirements. 

One of the first things to go was the open house. Even agent showings were constrained, with visitors limited to an agent plus two people and additional requirements for wearing masks and disposable shoe covers and gloves. 

Overlapping appointments were not allowed, showings were limited to 15 to 30 minutes, and bottles of hand sanitizer sprung up on kitchen counters everywhere.

Ultimately, technology and ingenuity provided new marketing avenues for agents that included 3-D virtual open houses, Facetime and Duo viewings, videos, property websites and QR codes. Many of these marketing techniques remain, even though traditional open houses are coming back post-lockdown.

But are they really necessary? Certainly not for all types of properties. 

I believe the days of using a public open house to procure a buyer are limited. Agent security has become a concern and the desire for in-person viewings during a specific day or time has waned. 

On the other hand, Internet marketing and social media have a much wider reach, so much so that some people now feel comfortable buying a home – probably the most expensive item they will ever purchase – without even stepping into it until after closing.

After all, if we can work in sweatpants or pajamas while Zooming corporate meetings, how can naked virtual reality house hunting be far behind?

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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