Metro Weekly

Apex's New Phase

Apex will reopen as the nightclub Phase 1 of Dupont, an offshoot of D.C.'s oldest lesbian bar

The secret’s finally out: The club most recently known as Apex will soon reopen as Phase 1 of Dupont, an offshoot of D.C.’s oldest lesbian bar in Southeast.

Allen Carroll, the gay man who owns Phase 1 as well as Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, will convert the space at 1415 22nd Street NW into a lesbian nightclub. ”I think it’s time for [women] to have their own club in Dupont,” Carroll told Metro Weekly in an exclusive interview.

Carroll had been talking to Apex owner Glen Thompson long before the club abruptly closed at the end of June, after 28 years of business, 19 of them as Badlands. The details were kept quiet, however – and the rumors as to who would be taking over the Apex space veered toward a straight country-western bar, complete with a bucking bronco. ”I can’t believe it remained a secret for so long,” marvels Carroll.

Carroll isn’t sure how quickly Phase 1 of Dupont will open. He’s not even sure if it’ll be open in time to host this year’s fifth PhaseFest music festival, set for the weekend of Sept. 24. At the least, Carroll plans to keep much of Apex’s equipment and furnishings, which should speed the opening process.

At this early stage, Carroll also hasn’t decided who will manage the new Phase. But Phase 1 of Dupont will ”be similar” to the original, he says. In fact, it’s likely to be run in tandem with the original, at 525 8th StreetSE, which will remain open.

Carroll is convinced there’s enough of a demand for two Phases — and the man certainly has some expertise in lesbian nightlife.

”I’ve always worked with women,” says Carroll, who opened Phase 1 in 1970 with his late partner Chris Jansen. Carroll even worked at the lesbian bar, Jo-Anna’s, which predated Phase 1 in Southeast’s Barracks Row neighborhood. For over a decade, from the mid-1970s to the late-1980s, Carroll owned The Other Side, a lesbian club in the original Ziegfeld’s space in Southeast D.C. where Nationals Park now sits. ”I’ve dedicated my career to the women,” he says. ”They’ve been very good [to me].”

Apex is certainly a known quantity to the D.C. lesbian community. The venue hosted many of its most popular women’s parties, including Liquid Ladies, over the last decade.

Carroll has been scouting for a spot for a new lesbian club for years. ”After I got Zeigfeld’s and Secrets re-opened [in 2009], I told them, ‘My next [bar] is y’alls — if I’m able.’ And Glen gave me a good opportunity to do it there.”

Phase 1 holds a storied place in Washington’s lesbian lore, the nexus of the community for nearly 42 years.

”I had one girl come in about a month or two ago and say, ‘My mother used to come here,”’ says Carroll, who concedes that some regulars even call him ”papa.” Carroll hopes the same may one day be said of the forthcoming Phase 1 of Dupont.

”It’s for a new generation,” he says.

Phase 1 of Dupont will open soon at 1415 22nd St. NW. Metro Weekly and will provide additional details as they arise.

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.