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Without warning, iconic uptown Washington D.C. LGBTI nightclub closes

Without warning, iconic uptown Washington D.C. LGBTI nightclub closes

Cobalt, a queer nightclub in the 17th street neighbourhood of Washington D.C.

After nearly two decades of electric parties, eclectic DJs and pouring Grey Goose Vodka to guests, the doors of famous gay nightclub Cobalt closed for the last time.

Taped to the door of the club, sat on 1639 R Street NW, a sign alerted patrons the bar was ‘closed for water problems.’

After suspicions of the bar’s demise, owner Eric Little broke the silence and announced on Twitter yesterday (5 March) the bar was to shut.

What happened?

The building was sold to real estate firm Marwick Associates for around $4,75000 last summer.

Cobalt leased the building for 20 years, and said the bar had ‘options’ and would be around until ‘at least 2021,’ the Washington Post reported. 

Fans of the 17th street neighbourhood club speculated Cobalt’s closure until Little confirmed it.

Costly infrastructure repairs and a decline in sales promoted the closure.

He wrote: ‘It was the right time to close the business to focus on our other businesses and some personal family needs.

‘For more than 20 years, our amazing customers and incredible staff have contributed greatly to the DC-area LGBT community.

‘We have always strived to do our part to strengthen local organizations, businesses, and the entire 17th Street neighborhood and we couldn’t be prouder of the legacy Cobalt leaves behind.’

LGBTI bar scene has changed

Cassidy DuHon, performed drag at Cobalt as LaTavia LaCroix, told Washington Post: ‘Cobalt had a good gay Cheers kind of feel for a while.

‘Like you could come in on any day of the week, and there was something going on.’

With three floors, the venue had a regular rota of acts and entertainment.

However, Little went onto discuss how the ‘popularity of dating apps, changing social norms and pop-up parties/events at non-gay venues’ impacted the LGBTI bar scene.

The bar survived both a fire that tore through the building in 2000 and a class-action lawsuit in 2014.

It alleged it was shorting the pay-stubs of bartenders.

But DuHon said ‘Cobalt failed to maintain a loyalty to a crowd who loved it.

‘Cobalt was a much more with-the-wind kind of bar.

‘Willing to go with whomever would show up and pay the cover.

‘So, when the neighborhood got pricier and times got harder, it didn’t have that die-hard tribe.’

What will happen to Cobalt?

High-end apartments are to replace Cobalt, according to Little.

He wrote: ‘We wish the new building owners and future residents the best success and hope that the buildings will bring them all as much joy and happiness as it has brought the entire Cobalt family.’

LGBTI bars are on the brink

Many LGBTI bars, pubs, and clubs are closing down in cosmopolitan cities.

From Soho, London to Jackson Heights, New York City, unexpected closures – typically over rent issues – are rampant.

Though, one queer joint in Baltimore did re-open following its closure in 2012.

See also

One of London’s oldest gay bars announces its closure

Google Maps users troll Russia censor, brand their HQ ‘closed gay bar’

London’s gay Barcode club has abruptly closed