Hundreds of college students swarmed Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras Friday to celebrate its last night after a more than 30-year run.
The nightclub at 1217 22nd St. is now permanently closed. It will be redeveloped and leased as retail space by its new owner, Amerimar Enterprises, which owns the Marriott Hotel above the club and Blackies, a closed restaurant next door, said Lulu’s former owner Al Chadsey.
“The (nightclub) business is not what it used to be,” he said last week, citing the rise of liabilities, such as underage drinking, as an important reason why the new owner doesn’t want to keep Lulu’s as a nightclub. The new owners could not be reached for comment.
Lulu’s, the closest among D.C.’s many clubs to campus, hosted its last extravagant bash starting at 8 p.m. Friday. It lasted well into the morning, with an all-night open bar. DJ Chris Styles from HOT 99.5 was spinning and memorabilia from the club, including the neon signs hanging on the walls and T-shirts with the Lulu’s logo, were given away throughout the night. Earlier last week everything inside the club was auctioned off in an effort to completely liquidize its assets, Chadsey said.
Most partygoers, a majority of whom were college students, danced the night away Friday and said they were having a good time.
“I haven’t been here since I was underage, but I’m having a lot of fun tonight,” GW senior Steven Ruggio said at the club Friday.
“This is excellent. There’s free alcohol and I’m having a good time,” said partygoer Jose Serrano, a Foggy Bottom resident. By the end of the night, however, and much to the dismay of many partiers, the bars were short on alcohol.
Lulu’s, previously known as D?j?-Vu, started out as a caf? attached to the back of Blackies restaurant. Former owner Blackie Auger was lent $9,273 by a fan and a businessman to open up a bigger place than the restaurant he already had, which was called Minute Grill and later Blackies. By the time it closed last December, it had expanded from a capacity of 30 to 1,200.
As Blackies grew, the caf?, and then the nightclub, gained enough popularity to become their own sites. When it went from caf? to club, the name Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras was adopted after owners Blackie and Lulu Auger visited New Orleans in 1963.
Nelson Gonzalez, bartender at Lulu’s for the last seven years, said he is upset that his run at Lulu’s is over.
“It’s been so good to be here, and I’m so sad that the experience is ending,” he said as he and other Lulu’s employees sported T-shirts that said “Thanks Al! It’s been a great ride,” referring to the owner.
An out-of-towner at the club Friday said that while it was her first time at Lulu’s she had a great time at the nightclub and thinks it should definitely stay.
“It’s my first night down here and I came with a bunch of guys. The experience is different, but I’m still having a great time,” said Andrea Masselli of New York’s Le Moyne College.
Others said they were not as sad to see Lulu’s go, even though they were having a good time at Friday’s bash.
“I feel good, because it’s a good night and because Lulu’s is finally done with,” GW senior Kyle Fielding said.
Some students interviewed on campus said last week that Lulu’s is a staple to the GW experience – especially for freshmen’s first year in the city.
“It’s not a particularly amazing club, but it’s definitely representative to a degree of the freshman experience,” freshman Sarah Gold said. “I’m certainly sad that Lulu’s is closing. It’s a place where you know it will always be fun, always be crowded. Next year’s class is missing out on a GW experience.”
As far as future plans for Chadsey, now that Lulu’s is out of his hands: “I’m going fishing,” he exclaimed. “My options are wide open.”
Chadsey, who owned Lulu’s for 13 years, said that while he’s sad to let the club go, he thought it went out with style and a first-class celebration.
He said, “It’s one of the few clubs going out on a very high note.”