Meet The Atlantis – D.C.’s new old 9:30 Club

By Carolina Carmo

I.M.P.’s newest 450-capacity venue, located around the corner from the current 9:30 Club by U Street, is an homage to the original club. The Atlantis aims for the grimy, used feel of the historical spot with a more polished finish, allowing audiences intimate shows in an inviting concert house.

Posters showing old shows from the original 9:30 Club, including Bob Boilen’s band Tiny Desk Unit.

There’s so much history embedded in this place. Beyond having already hosted plenty of legendary acts during its opening 44-concert run to celebrate 9:30’s 44 years, the layout of the building bows to the original club. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a beat up wooden desk covered in decades-old stickers. It’s the original 9:30’s desk, the same one where Dave Grohl – who christened the venue with the Foo Fighters on May 30 – got his underaged  hands stamped when he attended shows. Small spotlights shine in the same place as old support beams and in the rafters sits a chair where Teri Stubbs used to (sometimes) film sets in the 1980s and 1990s. The name, The Atlantis, is itself a nod to the venue that preceded even the 9:30’s first F Street location.

The chair up in the rafters, as well as a beam of light where an old pillar used to stand.

Beyond the obvious care for 9:30’s history and the nostalgic (if a bit overproduced) aesthetic, The Atlantis stands on its own as a well-built venue. The music sounds great on every floor and no matter where you are you can clearly see the artist on the corner stage. The venue is also the first in D.C. to launch with zero single-use plastics, stocking its bars with reusable cups instead.

Cool dingy venue or low quality camera?
The Atlantis’ corner stage.

The highlight of The Atlantis is its rooftop. Famous graffiti artists returned to cover the walls with tags, the trash cans and parking meters are authentic fixtures from 80s D.C. The street lamp, marking the intersection of 9th and F Street, blinks red when a performer is about to take the stage, warning fans to head inside, but the venue is built in a way that the music from downstairs still comes up to the roof.

The rooftop, featuring authentic 80s signage and the 9th and F St. intersection lamp post.
1980s era street newspaper boxes, holding decorative replicas of old front pages.
WRGW at The Atlantis.

I.M.P. wants The Atlantis to be a place where musicians have a chance to build their following in D.C. intending that they return to the District to headline the 9:30 Club, then the Anthem and maybe even Merriweather Post Pavilion. 

Jordan Grobe (beard) explains the history behind the posters covering the walls of the venue.

Communications Coordinator for I.M.P. Jordan Grobe hopes the coolness of the space influences the mindset of potential concert-goers. “Oh, I don’t know who this is, but if they’re playing here, maybe I should,” Grobe said.

Check out upcoming shows at The Atlantis here

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that The Atlantis is a near perfect replica of the 9:30 Club and that Jordan Grobe has a goatee and not a beard. We apologize to the rest of Grobe’s facial hair for only highlighting the little bit on his chin.

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