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Dupont’s New ‘Dive’ Bar Has Serious Rock ‘N’ Roll History

The building for the controversial new venue has hosted Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt

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An original photo of David Bowie hangs in the VIP area of Dive bar, which includes a velvet roped-off corner complete with a cheetah print couch.
Dive/official photo

Dupont Circle will get a new lounge and revived entertainment venue when Dive arrives in the basement at Darlington House on New Year’s Eve.

The name stirred some controversy online given that Dive is in a ritzy neighborhood and will offer bottle service. Founding partner Russell Hirshon insists the name doesn’t mean that Dive is actually a dive.

“We are not a ‘dive bar’ but a place where we hope people dive into our music experience and history,” he says.

The sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll theme has history in the space despite its tony surroundings.

Over the course of 20-plus years, the subterranean space at 1610 20th Street NW — formally known as Childe Harold — hosted such artists as The Ramones, Bonnie Raitt, and hundreds more. In 1973, Bruce Springsteen strummed there for a three-night run, and a framed copy of his contract hangs at Dive.

“We will be inviting all of the previous artists who played here back to perform again,” Hirshon says, adding they’ll naturally get a seat at its bottle service area.

Fittingly, Dive will hang a bonafide art gallery of original photographs featuring rock stars such as John Lennon, Elvis, and David Bowie.

Bottle service comes with an optional expensive perk. For $1,450, a bottle of bourbon can come with the Gretsch pearl white hollow body guitar.

There will be three sound systems, including turntables. Along with guitar picks meant to encourage impromptu strumming on one of nine guitars hanging on the walls, guests at Dive will receive Dive-branded condoms at the door. Dive rolling papers will go on sale starting in January (they’ll be free at a planned 4/20 party).

Open mic nights are scheduled to kick off every Friday starting January 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bathroom doors are adorned with appropriately colored blue and pink Jackson electric guitars, which can be played as well.

Chris Murray, owner of the Palisades’ Govinda Gallery, provided all photography for Dive. D.C. nightlife vet Hirshon first met Murray in 1986 while he was a manager at The Bank nightclub on F Street across from the former 9:30 Club location, who provided Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species series of signed screen prints for display in the club’s VIP area. Murray linked up with Warhol in 1969 through his Georgetown University friends Bob Colacello (Interview magazine) and Michael Netter, who shot hundreds of videos at Warhol’s iconic New York City studio, the Factory.

Murray and Hirshon, who runs local creative and branding agency Ministers of Design, got closer when the artist helped him run political performance art campaigns for president in 1992 and 2016.

Other framed photos Murray donated include those of U2, Marvin Gaye, and Johnny Cash.

Here are some others:

A shot of Bob Marley photographed by David Burnett.
Dive/official photo
Keith Richards and Mic Jagger photographed by Fernando Acevedo.
Dive/official photo
Andy Warhol and Chris Murray at the Corcoran Gallery in the mid-1980s.
Dive/official photo

Darlington House owners Fabio and Patricia Beggiato are partners on the project. Updates included replacing its aging tile flooring with wood and adding opaque curtains.

Future events include a hosted book party with D.C. radio DJ Cerphe Colwell, who details the venue’s history — including his exploits with Springsteen — in his memoir, Cerphe’s Up.

Other programming includes a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, with two turntables along with its digital music.

Also on tap for 2019: a book party for Murray’s Bruce Springsteen book on May 24, the anniversary of a night “the Boss” played at the location 46 years ago.

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