Nation is Closing

In July, the second of the clubs that marked my DC nightlife of the nineties and beyond will close. Both in a corner of SE that is witnessing rapid development.

First to close was the immortal Tracks, where I enjoyed countless nights of industrial mayhem and gothic malaise on Thursday nights from college onward, bulldozed for office development some years back.

And now Nation will close, also making way for development as that area metamorphoses into the new stadium neighborhood. The final weekend will be July 14-16. And so it continues – out with the dance clubs, in with the Starbucks.

Nation originally opened in 1996 as the Capital Ballroom. I went there dancing one of the very first nights, with DJ Daemon spinning. Little did I know then that my future husband, a good friend of his, was also there that night. A few months later we would bump into each other there, remember meeting at Tracks the summer before, and begin our euphoric ascent.

The club eventually changed hands and became Nation, home to many popular dance nights over the years (and a fair bit of controversy when ravekids became the hysteria du jour) and one of the most diverse concert venues in DC.

So many memories are tied up in that space. Crazy vibrant memories – music, concerts, dancing, drinking, sadness, violence, happiness – all the gamut of those turbulent years that mark your transition from college kid to adult. I can’t even process them all right now. Perhaps by July, when the club is set to close, I’ll be able to give you a taste of these stories. But not just now.

Tracks gone. Nation gone. It truly will be the end of an era.

7 Comments so far

  1. Beth (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 1:28 am

    Oh, the times, they are a changin’!

    Nation closing!?! Not sure why this touches a nerve. Haven’t been in years, and yet feel the need to be there for its adios. Is it a vain attempt to recapture one’s youth? Whatever, I’ll try as I might to come down from NYC to see yet another fabulous DC space fall to “growth”. And I’ll make sure to bring the Goldschlager.

  2. jen m. (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 9:15 am

    so sad about nation closing. beyond the personal memories, that’s one less venue for live music in a city that was already sorely lacking in that department. particularly considering that nation is (was) the largest venue that i will go to, my opportunities to see any remotely popular acts will be severely limited.

  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 10:10 am

    Sorely Lacking in Venues?! Really?

    Warner Theatre. DAR Constitution Hall. 9:30 club. Birchmere. Black Cat. DC 9. That’s off the top of my head in less than 10 seconds. The DC City Paper each week reads like a concert scheduler grown grand.

    Will Nation be missed? Yes, absolutely. But to say we’re short of venues in this town? Really?

  4. Don (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 10:25 am

    I’m with Jen on this one. Venues are more than just a location, there’s also a booking style and composition and while everything you listed is fine, Nation’s somewhat unique in its combination of size and willingness to book punk acts. If you’re a medium-draw act in that genre you’re at Nation. Or you were….

  5. Jenn L (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    Tom, you just can’t compare places like Black Cat and DC9 to Nation – the size difference is enormous. Bands who would play one cannot play the other.

    Also, the Warner and DAR are completely different genres and space styles – those are very traditional, while Nation is a cavernous warehouse. You can’t dance at the Warner, for example.

    We are short of venues of a certain size and style in DC, yes, absolutely, especially compared to other cities. Also, urban planners/developers around here seem blind to the fact that to create a vibrant core you need a mix of styles of retail/entertainment/restaurants/etc, not just one boring type.

    Once again, it’s “let’s raze everything to the ground and start over” instead of intelligent planning. Irritating.

  6. jen m. (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 11:13 am

    what they said. the last show i saw at nation was bad religion. i was also lucky enough to see them at 9:30 club, but that was a rarity, they can sell out the 9:30 easily.

    where is a band like bad relgion going to play next time they come to town? warner theater and DAR are not acceptable options for a punk show. DC9, black cat, etc. are all way way too small. they’ll have to play the 9:30 and many of us won’t be able to get tickets, which sucks. or maybe they’ll just skip dc altogether because there is no good venue for them.

    without nation, there is no decent venue bigger than the 9:30 club and smaller than the MCI center. that’s a serious problem.

  7. DC Punk Dude (unregistered) on March 24th, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

    Guess they will all go to Baltimore, where the real punks are anyway, lol.

    Just another example of a ‘show’ that couldn’t be at DAR, The Jim Rose Circus show, 94, when they turned off all the lights and chased the audience around with running chainsaws with flashlights strapped on their heads, ala DOOM. Albeit the saws were toothless, but when you inhaled the gas vapors and the splattered liquid hit you, you ran like hell. What a great experiment in group dynamics.

    Ahh, the things these youngsters will miss out on.

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