Arts Desk

Merged Red and the Black/Palace of Wonders Venue Could Open in Six Months

The bar and concert venue that will arise from the merger of the H Street NE venues the Red and the Black and Palace of Wonders lends itself, pretty obviously, to a new name: the Red and Black Palace. That's what nightlife mogul Joe Englert, an owner of the Red and the Black, wants to call it. One of his partners, Bill Spieler, is pushing for a simpler name, Englert says: Red Palace.

"We’re going to fight in the middle of H Street with swords," Englert says. “I'm gonna win. I’m meaner.”*

Whatever the new venue is ultimately called, Englert says he'd like to christen it in the next six months, pending approval of D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and following preparations to upgrade the second-floor show space and improve the menu. He says construction—creating a first-floor passageway and knocking down the second-floor wall—could be completed quickly enough that the venues should only have to go dark for around five days.

For both Palace of Wonders and Englert's group, which books shows at DC9, the Red and the Black, and the Rock & Roll Hotel, it's a win, Englert says: "We’re turning away people for good shows, but having trouble in the early part of the week." By devoting the first half of the week to burlesque acts and the second half to live bands and DJs, "we now can concentrate on better production and combine both concepts." The new show space, he estimates, will be about 30 percent larger than DC9, which holds 199.

I asked Englert what the change means for local acts that often play at the Red and the Black. "D.C. bands who work hard will eventually make it to our stages," he says. His venues, he says, "never say no to a band that draws. A band that draws that sounds good is something even better.”

*Yesterday, I asked Steve Lambert, who books the Red and the Black, what he thought about the name Red and Black Palace. He said he's mostly just excited to book the expanded space: "I don't care what the fuck it's called."

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