Dave Grohl, Seth Hurwitz, Mayor Bowser Open D.C.’s New Atlantis Club

2. Dave Grohl, Mayor Bowser, and Seth Hurwitz at The Atlantis News Conference Photo by Daniel Swartz
Power Trio: Dave Grohl, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowswer, I.M.P.’s Seth Hurwitz at the official guitar string cutting opening The Atlantis, a 450-capacity club in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Daniel Swartz)

Today, I.M.P. Presents, D.C. largest independent promoter, held a guitar string cutting ceremony for its new club, The Atlantis, a venue that is a standing tribute to the original 9:30 Club which opened 43 years to the on May 30, 1980. The event’s dignitaries included Seth Hurwitz, CEO and co-founder of I.M.P., Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, original 9:30 Club co-founder Dody DiSanto and Foo Fighters’ prime mover and D.C.-area native, Dave Grohl.

“I’m a very proud musician, who grew up just over the bridge in Springfield, Virginia,” said Grohl, whose band officially opens The Atlantis tonight.  “I discovered the underground music scene and started coming here to the 9:30 Club at 14 years old.”  Grohl recalled seeing Disanto some 40 years earlier at the original club’s front desk (which used to sit at the end of the original club’s long hall and now graces The Atlantis’ club’s entryway) where he would beg his way into shows. Later, his band Scream would play the storied venue.

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Post-Modern Facade: The exterior of The Atlantis replicates the Club’s Atlantic Building which housed the original 9:30 Club as well as the Food Food restaurant.

Hurwitz recalled his first show in 1979 at the original Atlantis, which subsequently became the 9:30 Club, when he saw The New York Dolls perform there.  “I go down there and was like, ‘Wow, what a weird place. What weird people.’ It was just nuts. It was a wild scene and was an adventure going down there.” Hurwitz has been a staunch preservationist and historian who has both chronicled and celebrated the storied club’s past and much of D.C.’s extraordinary music history and culture.

Washington, D.C.’s original 9:30 Club opened in 1980 with a capacity of under 200 (which wasn’t always enforced) and over the past 43 years became the stuff of rock and roll lore. While the hovel was notorious for its horrible sight lines, putrid smell and healthy rodent population, it was far better known as a haven for many of contemporary music’s most successful acts. This included everyone from ascending national acts like Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and R.E.M. to legends like Dolly Parton, Chuck Berry and Prince to local heroes like the Slickee Boys, Trouble Funk and Fugazi. Hurwitz bought the club in 1986 and in 1996 moved to its current larger digs on V Street with a much larger capacity of 1,200.

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Rooftop Re-creation: Seth Hurwitz and Mayer Muriel Bowser on the rooftop deck of the new Atlantis club, which recreates the street scene outside of the 9:30 club including graffiti artists Cool “Disco” Dan

Mayor Muriel Bowser made an official Proclamation declaring today, May 30, 2023, “9:30 Club Day” in Washington, D.C. In her proclamation, the Mayor cited the club’s music history. It was a “time and place where world-renowned bands like Nirvana (I might add their ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is a particular favorite of mine), the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, and REM got their start. More than 11,000 acts have headlined the 9:30 Club.”

While the Atlantis pays tribute to its former digs, it is thankfully far more hospitable with an open floor plan, a balcony, unimpeded sight lines (the original club famously had pillars blocking patron’s views), state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and an open-air rooftop deck that re-creates the urban squalor/splendor of the original 9th Street location with original graffiti by D.C. taggers, band posters, newspaper boxes and a street lamp that turns red when bands are playing. The interior also includes original photos of the old club, the aforementioned front desk covered in stickers and a bar that replicate the original wooden bar (which now resides in the new 9:30 Club around the corner).

The ceremony also included the unveiling of a Dave Grohl sculpture, made from an assemblage of materials by Bernard Pras that will reside at the Anthem, the 6K capacity venue I.M.P. opened in 2017 on the southwest D.C. waterfront.

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There Goes My Heroes: Dave Grohl and artists Bernard Pras at the unveiling of the Dave Grohl statue commemorating The Atlantis Club.

The Atlantis is opening with a series of 44 underplays (one for each year of the club’s history), with bands who could easily play much larger capacity clubs. This includes shows by Yo La Tengo, The Pixies, Hot Chip, Jenny Lewis, George Clinton, Billy Idol, Spoon and others.

The Atlantis serves to complement I.M.P.’s portfolio of venues it either owns and/or books, including the 9:30 Club, The Anthem, The Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lincoln Theatre. Hurwitz, when giving a tour of the new facility, noted that some of the up-and-coming artists who play the anthem will most certainly go onto bigger stages—much like that kid who snuck into the original 9:30 some forty-years earlier

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An Homage: A view of the Atlantis stage from the soundboard which still has a small pillar slightly obstructing the view.