News & Politics

A Replica of the Old 9:30 Club Will Open Behind the New 9:30 Club

Dave Grohl broke the news during a Foo Fighters show on Thursday.

The interior of the old club. Photograph via the Library of Congress.

A replica of the old 9:30 Club on F Street, Northwest, will open behind the club’s current location. The news was broken by erstwhile Washingtonian Dave Grohl when his band Foo Fighters played a surprise show at 9:30 Thursday night, as WTOP’s Neal Augenstein first reported.

I.M.P., the company that owns 9:30, confirmed the news. The new club which does not yet have a name, will be a “more intimate venue” that will “look just like the original,” although without “the notorious stench nor the huge and plentiful rats that old-school patrons so fondly recall,” according to a press release.

The entrance to the old club. Photograph via Library of Congress.

The old 9:30 was considerably smaller than the current club, which has occupied the old WUST hall since 1996. At the time the old club closed, it was the only business left in the Atlantic Building on F Street, Northwest. Now the block boasts a J.Crew and a Lou Lou Boutique, but the neighborhood was considerably more run-down then, and the old 9:30 reflected its surroundings: The stage was small, the walls were black, iron columns blocked your view, and, yes, there was a distinct and pervasive pong to the place. In 1994, Clara Jeffery, then a Washington City Paper reporter, asked a taste-and-smell expert to identify it. The most promising theory: the disinfectant the club used mixed with cigarette and alcohol residue and God knows what else.

The club shared its alley with Ford’s Theatre, which meant that, say, Bullet LaVolta unloaded their van in the same space John Wilkes Booth used to escape after killing President Lincoln. The actual landlords of the alley were the rats who roamed freely, casting grudging looks at the Wedding Present or Clutch.

Correction: This post originally said the Atlantis Club, which the 9:30 replaced, was where Ian MacKaye saw the Cramps in 1979—his first punk show. The show in fact took place at Georgetown’s Hall of Nations.

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.