The Bar Belle: HR-57

1610 14th Street N.W.

Is it just me or have the weekends been getting better around here? It could be the nicer weather, or the fact that we know how limited this time we have together is. Whatever the reason, the party invitations seem to have increased exponentially and the bars around campus are busier during the week than they have ever been.

And as the weeks wind down, my desire to head back to my favorite bars at night while exploring this great city during the day has increased dramatically. After going on a tour of the Shaw neighborhood on Sunday afternoon that focused on the importance of jazz in the city, I realized that my soul needed to hear the music and not just talk about it.

Lucky for me, Jonathan Kantor had his senior recital at HR-57 on Sunday evening. HR-57, named after the congressional bill with the same name, is a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of jazz and blues. It’s also one the best places to see quality music on a regular basis and is one of my favorite places in the city.

HR-57 brings back memories of freshman and sophomore year for me. As one of the few jazz clubs you can go to without being 21, they used to have a very relaxed alcohol policy – bring your own, and they wouldn’t card you. While you can still bring your own bottles of wine (or whatever your beverage of choice is), the club now asks for an ID for every cup you ask for. There is also a one-time $3 corking fee if you bring your own alcohol into the club. But as bottles of wine are marked up about 75 to 100 percent, the fee is well worth it.

In addition to the slightly stricter drinking policy at HR-57, the club itself has changed. There is more seating (although it’s not as comfortable as it once was), part of the stage has been removed and the chess tables have all been moved to the far back of the room.

The red brick walls, cheap eats, great atmosphere and most importantly – the music – have remained the same. Sure, there’s a different band featured every night, but if you go to HR-57, you are going to hear some quality tunes. Mr. Kantor and the other two GW bands playing on Sunday, Los Gringos and Combination, were no exception.

I must have been one of the only people who took the BYOB rule to heart, because I’m pretty sure I was the only person intoxicated when the lights came on and the music stopped at around midnight. If I hadn’t been the only one left on Sunday wanting to keep the party going, I probably would have headed back to Busboys and Poets (2021 14th Street N.W.). But then again, I was able to walk home with a spring in my step and my soul feeling a bit lighter from all the splendid music.

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