PHOTOS: The Atlantis opens in DC, evoking memories of DC’s punk past

May 30, 2023

WTOP/Michelle Goldchain

“What if I say you’re not like the others?” Dave Grohl mused in the Foo Fighters’ Grammy-winning hit “The Pretender” in 2007.

Grohl was in D.C. on Tuesday morning along with Mayor Muriel Bowser to cut the ribbon — or rather, guitar string — for the official opening for The Atlantis, a new music venue opening tonight in Northwest.

The new concert locale is sure to be unlike the others. For one, it is a nod in appearance and namesake to the original venue that lived at 930 F St. NW, from 1977 until 1979, before the old Atlantic Building there became the first iteration of the 9:30 Club.

Its rooftop is a time capsule of days-gone-by of graffiti that once colored the corner of 9th and F streets. All of the graffiti artists who contributed to the rooftop installation — Eon 2, Mesk, Lisa of The World and many more — were the same artists who used to tag F Street at the time of the old 9:30 Club. The Atlantis even features tags of “Cool Disco Dan,” the D.C. tagger Dan Hogg, who died in July 2017. Hogg’s crew, Fierce Fighting Crew, installed his tag at the rooftop bar in his honor.

“F Street back then was a little sketchy, that made it an adventure,” said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of IMP, which owns the 9:30 Club, The Anthem, The Atlantis, and operates the Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Hurwitz was also on hand to cut the ceremonial guitar string with giant golden scissors on Tuesday morning.

“I know for so many people, especially the young, coming to punk shows, it was an actual rite of passage to walk down that long, 106-foot hallway,” said Dodi Disanto, who opened the first 9:30 Club with her husband Jon Bowers on May 31, 1980; exactly 43 years and one day before today’s Atlantis opening.

“This guy was playing — David Johansen, he was in the New York Dolls —  and, ‘Let’s go see that.’ So I go down there and wow, what a weird place!” Hurwitz said, recalling his first time visiting the original 9:30 Club.

The original venue hosted D.C. royalty like Fugazi and Bad Brains, as well as international icons like Tony Bennett.

The original 9:30 Club closed on New Year’s Eve 1995, and the current location opened on V Street five days later on Jan. 5, 1996. It is now the seasoned veteran on the block which now hosts The Atlantis next door.

Inside, the $10 million venue is inspired by the original 9:30 Club, which Grohl frequently visited in his time as a teenager; even the new stage is designed to be slightly off-kilter like its predecessor. The Atlantis has a capacity of 450, up from the 200-person capacity at the original 9:30 Club, but still significantly more intimate than the 1,200-person limit at the current 9:30 Club next door.

“There’s nothing like seeing a band in a small place,” Hurwitz told reporters on Tuesday. “When you go in there and see a band, and they’re as close to you as you guys are to me right now, there’s nothing like it.”

The new Atlantis still has a pole and crow’s nest, but it’s far less obtrusive in its current position — off to the side of the stage — than its predecessor. It also features a narrow, second-floor balcony.

The ceremony Tuesday featured a statue unveiling of Grohl, which will live permanently at The Anthem. The statue was made by artist and sculptor Bernard Pras.

Dave Grohl will christen the new venue tonight when the Foo Fighters take The Atlantis stage in front of a sold out crowd.

See more photos below.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein and Michelle Goldchain contributed to this reporting.

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David Andrews

No stranger to local news, David Andrews has contributed to DCist, Greater Greater Washington and was fellow at Washingtonian Magazine. He worked as a photo/videographer for University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

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