Metro Weekly

Ziegfeld’s/Secrets nightclub is permanently closed, owners confirm to Metro Weekly

The drag and male dancer entertainment complex in Southwest D.C. is another victim to development

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Ella Fitzgerald at Ziegfeld’s/Secrets – File Photo by Ward Morrison

Ziegfeld’s/Secrets entertainment complex, the dual-bar establishment that featured drag shows downstairs and nude male dancing on the upper level, has shut down, according to a post on the nightclub’s official Facebook page.

The D.C. bar, which had served the LGBTQ community for 40 years, relocated in the mid-2000s from southeast to southwest following the announcement of plans to build Nationals Stadium.

In the post, the club’s owners wrote: “Ziegfeld’s/Secrets regrettably has been forced to close our doors. We all have been honored to bring you the best in entertainment for 40 years. Regrettably, the option to stay and even have a closing event has been taken from us during this crisis. To the many dancers, drag queen, bartenders, DJs, and support staff over the years, thank you for making us one of DC’s best venues. Stay safe and healthy. Til next time….”

According to the D.C. Office for Tax and Revenue, the building was purchased on April 23 by Buzzard 1800 Half Street Property Owner LLC, a limited liability corporation whose address matches that of local real estate developer MRP Realty.

The Washington Business Journal reports that MRP Realty signed an agreement in 2016 to acquire several nearby properties, as well as the Ziegfeld’s/Secrets complex, and develop them into a 300,000-square-foot “multifamily-over-retail project.”

“It’s not like they just came out of the blue,” says Steve Dellerba in an exclusive interview with Metro Weekly. “This area has been slated to be developed for years — stadiums, condos, etc.” Dellerba, who co-owns the club with Allan Carroll, says they have been asked to completely vacate the building within three weeks. “I’m sorry that we can’t continue it,” he says, “but that’s what happens when you don’t own the building.” 

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Ziegfeld’s/Secrets – Photo: JD Uy

Dellerba is disappointed that, because of the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, the club will not be able to hold a proper closing party. He is hopeful, however, that Ziegfeld’s/Secrets will be able to re-open in a new location at some point down the line. “But I don’t think the environment is right at this moment,” he says, pointing to the current state of the city’s stay-at-home orders.

Ella Fitzgerald, a local drag legend who headlined the venue’s weekly drag performances, also took to her personal Facebook page to thank longtime fans.

“I have just received a phone call that Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is officially closed for good!” Fitzgerald wrote. “I personally would like to thank each and everyone of you for your many years of loyalty, support and dedication to Ziegfeld’s/Secrets. May you always treasure the fun times that we shared for the last 40 years. We hope to see all of you on the other side of this pandemic. May God bless you, your family and friends.”

Dellerba is similarly grateful to the community, which has patronized Ziegfeld’s/Secrets for the past four decades.

“We appreciate all the support,” he says. “The people over the years that have done so much for the business in coming out and supporting it through everything. It’s been a good ride. We love you and we will miss you.”

Read more:

Memories of Ziegfeld’s/Secrets: Thousands of photos, from 2002 to 2020.

Working-Class Warrior: Ward 7 candidate Anthony Lorenzo Green on trying to bring change to the D.C. Council

Former Councilmember Carol Schwartz endorses openly gay candidate John Fanning in Ward 2 Council race

Gay adult film producer claims restrictions on filming due to COVID-19 are “causing people to die”


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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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