‘Bills keep piling up’: DC area nightclubs ask for help as they await reopening

Courtesy Daniel Brindley

As D.C. remains in Phase One of its reopening plan, nightclubs and concert venues are seeking financial help to get by until they can open their doors again.

“While we’re idle, you know, bills keep piling up,” said Farid Nouri, owner of Eighteenth Street Lounge.

He is one of more than a dozen nightclub and concert venue owners to sign a letter to local leaders asking for financial help during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Based on the rent in D.C., which is pretty exuberant, we’re talking about average of 12 [thousand] to 15,000 bucks a month paying out of our pockets hoping for the big bang at the end,” Nouri said.

Audrey Fix Schaefer, the director of communications for IMP, which owns the 9:30 Club and The Anthem and also operates the Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavillion, said for every dollar spent on a ticket, that’s $12 of economic output for area businesses.

“Music venues are not just the cultural heart and soul of the community, but they’re also the financial engine for the community.” Fix Schaefer said.

Fix Schaefer is also the director of communications for the National Independent Venue Association, which was started when the pandemic hit.

It now has more than 1,800 members across the country.

“The concert industry was the first to close and will be the last to open and with zero revenue and all of the expense, we are facing the potential of our demise,” Fix Schaefer said.

She said a poll of NIVA members showed that 90% of independent venues reported they will close permanently in a few months without federal funding.

Daniel Brindley, owner of Union Stage and Jammin’ Java, said that when they are able to open in Phase Three, that it won’t be worth it because only 50 people will be allowed inside at one time.

“We’re not going to be able to really actually do our thing until there’s a vaccine,” Brindley said.

He said that any modifications would really alter the experience they aim to give their customers.

“We are in the business of gathering people together in often pretty tight quarters. It’s what makes out music venues, frankly, so magical,” Brindley said.

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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