Fans of Velvet Lounge and Dodge City are mourning the pandemic loss of those D.C.-area hangs.
But a new nightclub hopes to revive the D.C. nightlife scene in the months ahead.
The Asian-inspired secret garden oasis Sachi invites you to its grand opening Friday.
“It’s a full-on nightclub,” founder Beau Biabani told WTOP. “It’s kind of a jewel box of a club. … It’s basically like an Asian den — a beautiful, ornate space, an immersion like a garden, a place to kind of get lost. We’ve all been through so much in the last year, so we’ve been feverishly building this space. … It’s really something you don’t see that often in D.C. We put our heart into it.”
Located at 727 15th St. NW, it’s located just blocks from the White House.
“The White House can probably hear our music,” Biabani said. “It’s a white marble building. When you walk in, our bouncers will lead you down the steps. As you enter the club, you’re surrounded by Buddhas, candles and moss installations. You’re right behind the DJ booth as you walk in. … We have a 27-foot bar and a special area in the back surrounded by 27 video monitors.”
How about the technical specs for the music and video installations?
“The sound system is something you just have to hear — and feel,” Biabani said. “We have state-of-the-art lighting that we think is unrivaled in Washington by DAS Audio, who did a lot of the big installations in Miami like E11EVEN. … Our visual immersion is with iDesign. … We have an incredible ceiling light show. … Even the floor, we had an artist design the entire floor.”
It’s the latest venture by The Babylon Group, which also runs Union Trust across the street.
“It’s directly across the street from Sachi,” Biabani said. “It’s kind of like a ‘Cheers’ bar. There’s no menus, you come in there, the bartenders are all over you, they know your name and they’ll make you whatever you want. It’s in the same building as Joe’s Seafood, so right there on 15th Street.”
The Babylon Group is also planning the futuristic sushi lounge KOI at 14th and K streets.
“This is not a place where you get a couple sushi rolls and head out; this is a place where you want to have an experience for the night,” Biabani said. “We have an unprecedented visual instillation with 24-foot-high visual monitors. … There’s 2,000 technical lighted spheres that work in unison to provide this immersion a little bit like a ‘Blade Runner’ effect — gritty, cool, electronic.”
The group also owns Decades, a six-floor nightclub in Dupont Circle that opened in 2016.
“Dupont Circle is the Times Square of D.C.,” Biabani said. “We went against the grain. A lot of clubs at the time were doing EDM, but we just went old school. … We went retro, so Decades is five stories and a rooftop with ’80s music, ’90s music, 2000s. … Below Decades we have Rewind by Decades, which is diner food and a club now starting to go, Latin Decades at Rewind.”
The group is also planning to open Twelve After Twelve at 1212 18th St. NW in the next month.
“The building structure is very reminiscent of a Victorian mansion,” Biabani said. “We developed a club that is [a] reminiscence of the American Newport Mansions that were built in the 1800s, specifically The Breakers and The Rosecliff. These are Vanderbilt homes and Astor homes. We wanted to push that Gatsby vibe. The Rosecliff is where they filmed the original ‘Great Gatsby.'”
Babylon continues to swoop into local spaces emptied out by the pandemic or otherwise.
“When the pandemic began, no one knew how long the tunnel was and how many turns it was going to take, much less any light at the end of it,” Biabani said. “As these venues started to come available, we kept our eye out for great spaces. … A lot of these places are like, ‘Why isn’t there something like this in D.C.? I’d love to go to a place like this in D.C. Well, let’s build it ourselves.'”
He’s banking on the hope that folks are ready to party again after the pandemic.
“This is a grand epoch now, like the Roaring ’20s after the Spanish Flu where people were [feeling] all the things that happened with the pandemic — isolation, fear, not being able to connect with their friends and loved ones. Now everyone is hoping to get to a sense of normalcy. We’ll see what happens with the current environment, but we’re hoping to continue to get back to camaraderie.”
Still, he acknowledges that it could be a while before things are back to normal.
“At this time, wearing a mask has gone into effect in indoors locations until further notice, so we provide them at the door if people forget them,” Biabani said. “When they’re inside, they wear them. As the mayor said, you don’t have to wear them while drinking or eating. … Immunization has definitely helped. … But it’s a thing still. It’s a thing. We’re not out of the woods yet.”