Introduction

1296 Upshur St. NW, Washington, D.C.

On the Saturday of Mothers Day weekend 1975, Aundrea and Paulette Scott, John Eddy, Chasten Morell, and Rainey Cheeks opened DC’s newest dance club and community institution: The ClubHouse.  It was a success before it even opened.  People had been lining up for memberships for months.  At its peak, the ClubHouse had more than 4,000 members.  For fifteen years, nights at the ClubHouse provided the central focus of African-American gay DC social life.

Uniquely for a dance club, it was a non-profit corporation.  The owners dedicated their club to creating something new and special for the community and to providing a space not just for good times but for community organizations and events.  John Eddy remarked to The Hilltop that "The concept of The ClubHouse is a good old-fashioned house party atmosphere where people can be themselves and enjoy the latest music in unpretentious surroundings."

Clubhouse Slogans

Dance Your Ass Off

You Know If You Belong

Specializing in Positive Energy Through Music

Located across from a school in an upper northwest residential neighborhood, the new venue had a public hall license and was organized as a membership club: no one got in without a membership or sponsorship by a member.  Sponsored guests had to have their names listed before arrival at the club. Under its public hall license, The ClubHouse had to apply for Class D licenses for each event at which the managers wanted to serve alcohol; the club's famous punch helped fuel many an evening.

The organizers incorporated in July 1974 as ClubHouse Enterprises and spent the following ten months preparing for the opening.  Eddy, on one of his many motorcycles rides around the city, identified the site, a divided building with entrances at 1292 and 1296 Upshur St.  With a loan in hand, organizers replaced the wall dividing the building with a connecting hallway, installed state-of-the-art sound systems and lights, and began interviewing potential members.

Can You Feel It?
Introduction