News & Politics

What’s the Hardest Thing for Gypsy Sally’s Owner to Let Go?

Surprisingly, there's something he'll miss more than the VW bus.

Gypsy Sally's owners Karen and David Ensor take one last photo with friends in the 1975 van in the music venue's Vinyl Lounge. Photograph courtesy David Ensor.

Six months before Gypsy Sally’s opened its doors back in 2013, owner David Ensor was scrolling through Craigslist when he found it: a white and orange 1975 Volkswagen van. He thought about turning it into a serving station at first, but after seeing what good condition it was in, he had another idea: repurpose the vintage beauty into a prop that captured the Americana music venue’s retro feel. Soon enough, the van evolved into a private booth in the venue’s Vinyl Lounge, where band members, groupies, and anyone in between took many photos with it over the years.

“[People] either arranged themselves inside the van, outside the van, occasionally I’d have to stop someone from being on top of the van,” Ensor says, chuckling at the memory. “It was one of the items that drew you into the room and you made the discovery that there was a whole secondary stage.”

Now, after six years of being the place on K Street where the music never stops, the last song has come to an end and the Volkswagen is in need of a new home. The music venue closed its doors earlier this month, and, as Washington Business Journal first reported, Ensor and his wife Karen are auctioning off just about everything from instruments and loudspeakers to emergency exit signs and fire extinguishers.

Saying goodbye isn’t easy, and some items are harder to let go than others. The Volkswagen was one of them, and the van—which has a transmission but no engine—is now bid up to $1,050. Still, the most important part of the space that has to go is the sound system, Ensor says.

Sure, Gypsy Sally’s had a full bar and a menu complete with Goddess Grilled Cheese sandwiches, but it was a music venue first and foremost, Ensor says. Everything in the club, “from the design of the room to the treatment of the room was done to accommodate a sound system. It was job number one; we were just about music. The sound system is the heart of Gypsy Sally’s.”

A lot of work went into putting that sound system together, and if he had a big barn or somewhere else to set it up for himself, he would. Some parts, such as speakers, are currently fetching as little as 30 cents in the auction, while other parts, such as an audio rack, were up to $102 as of Friday afternoon.

Even the artwork that hung onstage is up for grabs, along with the Grateful Dead-inspired visual works that locals donated to the venue over the years.

Bargain hunters can find the deals of just about any other liquidation, such as tables, bar stools, and other equipment, but it’s things like the lighting, the van, and the artwork that have captured the most attention.

“It offers something other than the generic things that any restaurant or bar would have, and offers a bit of the flavor of Gypsy Sally’s,” Ensor says.

The auction ends January 27.


Cordilia James joined Washingtonian as an editorial fellow in 2020. She was previously a digital content producer at NBCWashington. Her work has also appeared in DCist and The Telegraph. Originally from Macon, Georgia, Cordilia now lives in Chevy Chase.