Opera Ultra Lounge DC: Sneak Preview & brief lesson in DC nightclub history
As the DC nightlife scene continues to grow and mature, more places are opening up to appeal to the lounge scene. Opera Ultra Lounge is set to be one of those great new spots, with an opening date set for the first week in June, though it’s not set in stone.
While still under construction, Opera is designed to be a unique lounge with a positive and upscale atmosphere and vibe, with emphasis on service. The space was designed by Francois Frossard, a famed nightclub/lounge designer that has laid out some of the most lavish nightclubs in Miami like Set, Mansion, Privie, and ArKadia. This means very modern and stylish decor, interesting furniture, futurisic layout, bright colors, and a very cool vibe.
Their sound and lights are being done by Baha Design Group, the same people who did Policy and Josephine in DC. Since Opera is planning to have DJ events and live music events, this means it’ll be done right with good strong sound, elegant lighting, and cool effects. All without being overbearing or ridiculous.
See more pics of Opera under construction
Opera is also located in the neighborhood that was beginning of the nightlife scene in DC. For those who have been around the DC nightlife scene for a while, its a very significant and nostalgic neighborhood. 14th and I was the center of everything.
Diva Nightclub, Zei Club, and Spy Club. Those were the only places in DC for real nightlife back in the 90s. Sure, there was Georgetown and Adams Morgan, but those were bars, not nightclubs or serious lounges. The only other real clubs at the time were Vault (which became Babylon, Casbah, Home, and is now Ultrabar), 5th column, and DC Live. That’s it. 14th and I is the place where modern DC nightlife was born.
But one place in particular within the 14th & I neighborhood stands out from the rest in DC clubbing history: Spy Club. It was the spot where most of the DC promoters turned owners got their starts. Masoud A (Lima, Vetro), Antonis Karagounis (Barcode, Lima, Ultrabar), Marc Barnes (Love, Park), Mike Romeo (Fur, Lotus, Tattoo, Midtown, Dirty Martini), Charles Zhou (Eden, Muse), Andre Demoya (Eyebar which later became Eden) all got their start in DC as promoters at Spy.
When Spy club shut down, Karagounis just went a few doors down to Zei club, where Rob Alanis (Current lounge) was General Manager, and Dave Karim (Current, Josephine, Lost Society) was a managing partner.
This is also the spot where Glow, the center of the mainstream electronic music scene in the mid-atlantic, got its start with Pete Moutso and Guest DJ George Acosta on October 5th, 1999. Karagounis had heard Acosta spinning in Shadow Lounge in Florida, and knew he had to book him. Acosta ripped up the crowd that Moutso and Karagounis has built up, and Glow was born.
Who would’ve thought that 12 years later, they’d become the center of the EDM world in the mid-atlantic, booking the biggest artists in the world regularly twice a week. Its hard to imagine this random weekly party grew into an organization that puts on massive shows with Tiesto and 10,000 fans, and huge music festivals with 22,000+ people and 24 major EDM artists. Its grown to be the favorite party of both Armin van Buuren and David Guetta.
…and it all started right here in the historic 14th & I neighborhood.