Arts Desk

Indie Rockers, Meet Sword Swallowers: Red and the Black, Palace of Wonders to Merge

One could say that thematically, a thin membrane separates Palace of Wonders, H Street NE's freakshow-themed burlesque bar, and the Red and the Black, the gumbo-serving, New Orleans-style rock club next door. As for the literal wall dividing them: That's about to come down.

There's no date set, but the two spaces plan to merge, the blogs H Street Great Street and Prince of Petworth reported yesterday.

That means knocking down walls, adjusting floor levels, and creating a larger show space on the second floor that will host more national acts, in addition to local performers, DJs, and Palace of Wonder's regular burlesque acts. And it means better sound, a better stage, better lights, and better food, according to Steve Lambert, who books the Red and the Black and other venues.

Lambert said the Red and the Black's owner, nightlife mogul Joe Englert, had been talking about expanding the 100-capacity venue for some time.

It's a change that means the local bands that play at the Red and the Black will have to work harder, Lambert said: "They’re going to have to draw a little better if we’re going to open up the room more." He wrote in an e-mail that the expanded space's capacity is still an unknown. "Won't really know until after any major construction," he wrote.

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