Kennedy Center rooftop transforms into HEIST nightclub for next eight weeks

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews HEIST Summer Series (Part 1)

The Kennedy Center rooftop is about to be transformed into a swanky D.C. nightclub.

The HEIST Summer Series kicks off this Saturday for eight weeks from 9 p.m to 1:30 a.m.

“We were going to reopen our club HEIST after a year and a half of being closed,” Owner Vinoda Basnayake told WTOP. “We started thinking of unique cool places to do a pop-up nightclub; do it over the top with live DJs, amazing views, performers and really go all out … We landed on the Kennedy Center rooftop because it’s just the most incredible views.”

It’s his second attempt to pull this off after a similar attempt fell through last summer.

“We were trying to figure out how to make it all work during the pandemic,” Basnayake said. “We’re a nightclub in the basement of a small space in Dupont Circle, so there was no chance of us opening in a safe manner. … We thought of doing a pop-up … but there were so many restrictions [that] we thought, ‘Let’s delay it and do it to its full potential.”

He remains tightlipped on what the space might look like.

“We’ve actually been really protective about the setup because we want people to be really surprised when they get up there,” Basnayake said. “It’s VIP bottle service, a bunch of cabanas and VIP tables, there’s a big dance floor and there’s a DJ booth positioned where the backdrop is all the monuments and the water, so it’s a really gorgeous space.”

Who is going to be spinning records from the DJ booth?

“This Saturday we have DJ Bix, who is the R&B-pop star Jay Sean’s tour DJ,” Basnayake said. “He’s one of the best open-format DJs in the DMV. We’re very lucky and excited.”

It’s all organized by Emmy-nominated Kennedy Center Honors producer Robert Pullen.

“He is an incredible event producer,” Basnayake said. “We wanted to take the energy and vibe of the actual club HEIST — we’ve had everyone from Drake to the Obamas to LeBron [James] come party at HEIST — we wanted to take that energy but pair it with the artistic production and creativity that we could get with that space. Robert was the perfect fit.”

Masks must be worn inside the Kennedy Center, but not once you’re on the rooftop.

VIP inner tables cost $240, while tables on the perimeter of the rooftop cost $1,000.

Reservations are open for this weekend. Future weekends go on sale next Tuesday.

Doors close at 10:30 p.m., so make sure you arrive close to your start time.

“No stragglers!” he said. “It is going to be a nightclub experience like you’ve never had.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews HEIST Summer Series (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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