New Orleans has jazz, Nashville has country, Chicago has the blues. But Washington DC has the venues. Whatever style of music you’d like to hear while you’re visiting the capital, you’ll be spoilt for choice with so many stadiums and arenas jostling for your custom. And even if you’re visiting with the family, there are lots of options to enjoy the nightlife in Washington DC.
1) The Fillmore
Too right you’ve heard of it. There was the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and the Fillmore East in New York. Now impresario Bill Graham has opened up a club in the ‘burbs of DC. Variety is the spice of nightlife when it comes to their approach to booking acts, but if you want to experience a bit of rock heritage, you’ll want to come on over to 8656 Colesville Road.
2) 9.30 Club
You name them, they’ve played here. If they’re a punk band that is. Nowadays the venue has moved post-punk and plays host to some big names – including the likes of Snoop Dogg, Adele and others. There’s a tempting selection of microbrews on offer while you enjoy the support act. You’ll find it all at 815 V Street.
3) Velvet Lounge
It doesn’t have to be all about guitars, drums and microphones. At the Velvet you’ll often find a local DJ chancing their arm on the decks. The stage is upstairs and indie bands often get booked to come and play here. Head to 915 U St NW to see what’s on.
4) Howard Theatre
How about this for a roll call: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday. They’ve all played at the Howard. It closed in the 1980s but is now back to its former glory. To go with the jazz, there’s gospel and soul on offer – don’t miss the weekend gospel lunches. The Howard is at 620 T Street.
5) Blues Alley
These days Georgetown is the well-to-do suburb that’s home to many politicians. But explore a little deeper and you’ll discover this gem on 1073 Wisconsin Avenue. Blues Alley claims to be the oldest club in the USA, and lots of big name jazz artists and crooners have played here.
Welcome to the new kid on the block. Or at 2135 Queens Chapel Road to be precise. This is DC’s latest and largest standing room venue, with state-of-the-art sound and visual systems to match. International stars and DJs come here to try out the acoustics and strut their stuff.
7) Madam’s Organ
This place deserves a visit just for the name alone. What else would you call a bar in the Adams Morgan district? There are live performances here every day of the week, so you can tap your feet to home-grown blues, R&B and bluegrass whenever the mood takes you.
8) John F Kennedy Center
Home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington Opera, the John F Kennedy is the venue of choice if you’d like to hear something big and orchestral while you’re in DC. It holds festivals throughout the year, often showcasing the work of particular composers – all at 2700 F Street.
9) Verizon Center
At 601 F Street NW, you can choose from four shows a week at the Verizon, with many international artists flocking to this arena. There are family theatre performances too, which are ideal if you’re looking for nightlife in Washington DC with kids.