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The Crew Club, the D.C.-based men’s spa serving the GBT community, held a reopening celebration this past weekend after being forced to temporarily shutter due to restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A “soft launch” was held from 4 p.m. Friday, August 20 through 8 a.m. Monday, August 23, with The Crew Club touting hundreds of patrons over the weekend.
Located at 1321 14th Street NW, The Crew Club said it would be open on subsequent weekends for similar hours until a full-time schedule could be determined.
In an effort to appeal to a younger demographic, the club informed visitors on its website that 18-to-24-year-olds would be granted free entry (along with a locker), while other patrons would be offered single-day memberships of $38 for a locker, $46 for a small private room, and $50 for a large private room.
Each paid membership lasts six hours, with visitors permitted to purchase an additional six hours, with a total 12-hour limit.
Plans for allowing visitors to purchase longer-term memberships, or how to deal with people who had purchased longer-term memberships prior to the COVID shutdown, were not mentioned on the website. All transactions are currently cash only.
The Crew Club has said it is abiding by the mayor’s mandate requiring masks for indoor spaces. Masks must be kept on in public areas, and all visitors must show proof of vaccination to enter.
On its Twitter feed, the Crew Club said that 763 patrons had visited the spa, with 273 on Friday evening, and Saturday serving as the Crew Club’s busiest night. About 15 to 20 percent of patrons were aged 18 to 24, according to a tweet from the Crew Club’s official account.
It was 15-20% 18-24yo each night.
— Crew Club DC (@CrewClubDC) August 24, 2021
Chris S. — who manages 11 other spas and bathhouses throughout Canada and the U.S., and asked that his last name be kept confidential for privacy reasons — is one of three partners, along with previous owner DC Allen, who could not be reached for comment.
Chris says he would ideally love to see Crew Club open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, as it was prior to the pandemic. But admits that it will take time before the establishment is able to resume normal operations.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare [prior to opening],” he told Metro Weekly. “We tried to get as many of the previous staff as possible, but we do need to…hire more staff before we can go 24/7.
“If we had tried 24/7 off the bat, we wouldn’t have done as good a job at it. Everyone’s kind of forgotten that we were closed for 18 months. We’ve got to take some time to get back into the swing of things.”
Chris said the bustling reopening weekend showed potential for the club to grow its numbers in the coming weeks. He plans to increase the number of patrons by continuing to offer an 18-to-24-year-old discount, something that has been successful at other properties he’s managed.
“The 18-to-24 promo has been really good for business,” he says. “Also, the 18-to-24 demographic are usually students just starting out. So it’s a way to let them come in at an affordable rate and you can’t get more affordable than [free], right?
“But,” he adds, “it won’t be a forever thing.”
Some patrons who visited the Crew Club this past weekend raved about their experience on social media.
“@CrewClubDC so fun for my first night at crew club last night. I live across the street so i will be back regularly!” tweeted one user.
Another raved about his experience, saying it was “a lot of fun,” recounting his interactions with other patrons, whose Twitter handles he shared on the thread.
A long-time patron of the popular spa, who wished to remain anonymous, told Metro Weekly that he visited the Crew Club this past weekend and had enjoyed himself, but was frustrated by the inability to use credit cards and the lack of any announced plans for reimbursing or reinstating longer-term memberships purchased by regulars prior to the pandemic.
“In my opinion, they are doing part of what they need to do to reinvigorate the business, but are missing out by not reaching out to past loyal patrons,” he said, adding, “The space is still great.”
Chris told Metro Weekly that patrons are going to see cosmetic fixes to the Crew Club’s interior in the coming months, and that the club “will definitely honor all previous memberships” once it gets its membership database back and running with updated information from patrons.
“We’re trying to make some spaces where guys can have a little more fun. We’re looking at maybe just relocating everything up to the second floor so we could lease the ground floor to a retail tenant. But all those plans are in the works,” he says. “In the end, we want to create a place where everybody’s welcome and can come have fun.”
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