The Bar Belle: The Velvet Lounge

The Velvet Lounge
915 U St. N.W.

My quest to find more live music venues in the District continues.

This week took me close to the 9:30 Club, but fortunately not into it. Closer to the U-Street/Cardoza Metro stop than the 9:30 Club and a whole lot more intimate lies the Velvet Lounge.

Everything about this bar screams indie music refuge. With most nights hosting three different bands for around $6, there’s probably bound to be something to please your ears. When you present your money at the door to support your local musicians, get ready to have your ID out as well. So if you’re not 21, sorry, but you can’t enjoy music here.

After getting past the door, you’ll head to the bar on your right, and for those of you looking to get drunk cheap the Velvet Lounge boasts $2 cans of Schlitz. If your drinking palate is more refined, there are $4 bottles of Guinness, Sierra Nevada, Yuengling, Rolling Rock, Miller Light and Hardcore Cider. Sorry, no beer on tap here – the bar’s pretty small. If beer’s not what you happen to be drinking, rail drinks come in at $5, and the special on Monday night was $6 for Grand Marnier or a cocktail with Van Gogh Vodka and lime for the same price. Since I’ve had my share of bad nights with Van Gogh Vodka and didn’t want to cut my ear off, I stuck with beer.

After grabbing my first drink I decided it was time to go explore the rest of the bar and check out what I really came for: the music. While the downstairs bar didn’t have more than 10 stools, I figured the upstairs would be much bigger and there would certainly be another bar upstairs where the band was playing. I was wrong – but later, I realized that it was a good thing. The band playing was a GW regular, Exit Clov, and they bring quite the loyal following. The packed house was enthusiastic and the floor not only bounced beneath our feet, but there were a few times where I felt like it was going to give at any moment. Having the only bar be downstairs away from where the band was playing helped to keep the traffic moving and the upstairs dance floor a little less crowded. Considering how poorly ventilated and hot and smoky it was, I was thankful.

Aside from the music, my favorite part of the Velvet Lounge was the copious amounts of stickers placed in every conceivable crevice of upstairs. After last week’s Austin Grill, where you could tell the stickers had been meticulously placed to look “random,” I was happy to see a place where you could tell a fellow drunken soul that you thought a particular spot was perfect for their sticker.

After Exit Clov’s short set, no one seemed to be in love with the bar. Most people headed to Adam’s Morgan for a more typical night on the town. I might not recommend going out of your way for the Velvet Lounge. But if you know a good band playing there or the 9:30 Club is sold out, it’s a must.

For more information on upcoming gigs and the bar visit www.velvetloungedc.com.

Bar Belle Rating

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