DC music club owners fear the worst in the wake of restaurant, bar closures

Shockwaves are rippling through D.C.’s nightlife scene after the owners of seven popular spots along 14th and U streets say they’re shutting down on Oct. 31.

And now, the local music scene is ringing the alarm. They say if the D.C. Council and Congress don’t help them out, they’ll be gone for good.

READ MORE: 7 DC bars to close 'for foreseeable future' on Halloween

They say, “No show, no income,” but the bills keep coming.

An effort called “Save our Stages” is seeking to have Congress provide funding to these businesses. With it, Audrey Fix Schaefer of I.M.P. Productions says even iconic venues like the 9:30 Club and The Anthem could stay closed for good.

READ MORE: DC’s Capitol Lounge closing its doors

“If they help us hold on until it’s safe enough to open up then we could be part of the economic recovery of our town, but if they let all of these independent music venues go? They are not going to come back! and we are an important part of the city!” Fix Schaefer said.

The shutdown is hitting small venues hard. The news that American Ice Company and six of its sister bars are closing Halloween shook the neighborhood. Owners Ian and Eric Hilton said they tried to stay afloat, but they can’t keep going like this.
Smaller D.C. music venues like Twins Jazz have also been put out of business.

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Now, advocates are pleading with D.C.’s council to pass a bill to keep D.C. music venues going to the spring. But backers warn that we can expect a wave of October closings.

“What we’re trying to do is we put this legislation - ‘the Music Venue Relief Act’ - to ask the council right now to move emergency legislation to support these venues until May. Because a lot of them won’t make it and we’re going to lose a huge important part of our cultural community if we don’t have these venues,” said Chris Naoum of “Listen Local First D.C.”

When Mayor Muriel Bowser was asked about the future of the District’s music clubs last week, she said outdoor entertainment is under conversation, but she offered no timeline.