Phase 1, located in Eastern Market, is closing its doors to patrons. Despite HRC’s 2nd Annual Lez Sing Karaoke Contest being scheduled this weekend, the owner has decided to close the venue starting Thursday, January 8. According to management, the venue—which has been home to the DC Drag Kings and the DC Gurly Show—is set to undergo renovations and re-open in the future, though no time has been set.
Since its opening in 1970, Phase 1 has been the only designated space solely dedicated to the lesbian community and remains the oldest lesbian bar in the country. While many are shocked at its sudden closing, no one is more shocked than the staff.
“I practically grew up in that bar,” says a former employee who wishes to remain anonymous. “I’ve dedicated so much of my life and time to that place, and to be tossed out like this…to be so undervalued and underappreciated…it’s heartbreaking.”
This is not the first time owner Allen Carroll has shut a space down without warning the staff. In October 2013, Phase 1 of Dupont employees were left in the dark after a similar mysterious closing. Concerned and dumbstruck employees have called and left messages with the owner, who has yet to return any of their voicemails.
Some patrons have questioned whether the women’s community truly appreciated a space that was designated solely for them. Attendance and sales have been on a slow decline, which could be a possible reason for the closing. However, sources close to Carroll say that Phase 1 will close for “upgrades like lighting, painting, and sound”, and re-open on a date yet to be determined.
In the meantime, Friday’s Lez Sing Karaoke contest has now been moved to Nellie’s Sports Bar located at 900 U St. NW, Washington, D.C.
So, where will things go from here? The dedicated employees of Phase 1 are wondering the very same thing.