January 9, 2015 at 10:35 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Phase 1 of Capitol Hill closed ‘temporarily’
Phasefest, gay news, Washington Blade

Phase 1 of Capitol Hill is temporarily closed. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

The Phase 1 of Capitol Hill, a lesbian bar that has been in business since 1970, closed its doors on Thursday for an undisclosed period of time during which renovations will be made before it reopens, according to a message on the club’s Facebook page.

“Phase 1 will be closed temporarily as we make some upgrades,” the Facebook message says.

Ellis Lane, who has worked part-time at Phase 1 of Capitol Hill for 10 years as a DJ and in other positions, said she and her fellow employees first learned about the closing last Sunday night through a text message from the manager who, in turn, received the news from owner Allen Carroll.

Lane said she has since learned that the renovations would include upgrading the club’s lighting and sound system, but she said she and other employees weren’t sure why the renovation work couldn’t be done during the four days each week that the club is closed.

Lane said the Phase 1 of Capitol Hill has operated Thursday through Sunday during most of the time she has worked there. She said that several months ago Carroll decided to close the club on Sundays, limiting its days of operation to Thursday through Saturday.

Carroll couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The announcement that the Phase 1 of Capitol Hill was closing for renovation work comes a little over a year after the Phase 1 of Dupont Circle, which is also owned by Carroll, closed its doors for renovation work in September 2013. The Dupont Circle Phase has since reopened and, similar to the Capitol Hill Phase, operates Thursday through Saturday, according to its website. It first opened in February 2012.

Lane said that when the Phase 1 of Capitol Hill manager first texted employees about the closing the manager wasn’t told by Carroll whether the club would be reopening, a development that led to rumors circulating on social media that the closing might be permanent.

“I don’t know if it’s true but there are a number of us who would like to organize around it and see if it’s possible to save it or at least commune in lamenting its passing,” said Phase 1 customer Kelsey Phipps in an email to the Blade on Wednesday, before Carroll announced the bar would be reopening.

Four D.C. gay bars with a mostly gay male clientele have closed permanently since 2011. They include the Dupont Circle dance club Apex, which operated in the same building as the Phase 1 of Dupont Circle; the nearby tavern Omega, which closed in 2012; the Capitol Hill country western dance bar Remington’s, which closed in April 2014; and MOVA, a bar and lounge, which held its closing party in December.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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