Exploring DC's Go-Go and Punk Music Scenes Tour: Club U (Franklin D. Reeves Center)
The club's location in a city-owned building stirred attention from locals and officials.
By day, this city-owned and operated building housed city offices and civil servants; by night, its clientele changed to function as a go-go club. Club U might have had a strange address, but for club-goers, it was just like any other club playing go-go music. However, the club came under scrutiny from neighbors and city officials alike, with many citing government ownership of the building as a conflict of interest, as well as rising nearby police incidents as a result of the club’s existence. The club operated from 1992 to 2005 and began as a restaurant, but slowly expanded to include a bar and live music.
Club U exemplified the conflicting opinions of go-go music, its venues, and the people that went to clubs: while city officials called for stricter oversight and the closure of go-go clubs, one simultaneously operated in one of their own buildings. Those opposed to its existence complained about trash left inside and around the building, increased police presence at the club because of emergency calls made, and liquor sales being made in a city-owned building. In contrast, those supporting the club saw it as one of the few remaining places in the District where one could listen to go-go freely. Supporters also refuted the claims of increased violence by stating that the club and its attendees itself did not attract violence, and could not be blamed for events that occurred outside of the building and after it closed late at night.
Despite the protests to keep the building open, the venue closed after continued criticism from city officials and neighbors. Similar to many other go-go clubs, Club U found itself the target of increased scrutiny of go-go music within DC. With more systemic pressure being put on clubs to stop playing go-go music or else face closure, Club U straddled each side of the debate because of its location within a government building.
Recently, the Reeves Center has been slated for redevelopment, which includes demolition of the original building for new structures to take its place. These plans, released by the mayor’s office, plan to break ground in 2025.
This site is a stop on the Exploring DC's Go-Go and Punk Music Scenes Tour.