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Retro-styled Owl Room is decked out with burnt orange seating and walls.
Mykl Wu

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The New Owl Room Pays Homage to D.C.’s Underground Dance Scene

The DJ-driven venue with no food goes live on Friday, March 10

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The Owl Room swings open on Friday, March 10, reviving the two-story space that formerly housed Marvin (2007 14th Street NW).

Owl Room has plenty of retro references to its namesake.
Mykl Wu

D.C. nightlife veterans Scott Herman and Ken Brobeck conceptualized the new club alongside Marvin’s returning co-owner Eric Hilton. To start, there’s no food in sight—only beers, wines, and cocktails.

Over its 13-year run, Marvin—named after D.C. native Marvin Gaye—was known for its crowded roof deck and raucous DJ nights until COVID-19 shut down the bistro and bar for good. Three years later, the anticipated Owl Room replacement with a 300-person capacity will operate more like a bonafide music venue with a box office. Owl Room plans to operate Wednesdays through Sundays.

A full-scale, ’70s-chic renovation dripping with disco balls and artsy odes to owls reimagines the space with a main dance floor and stage for live performances, plus a second-floor bar with an open-air patio. A upper lounge area is designed for smaller parties and private events.

Owl Room’s debut cocktail list includes a “Bitter Bitch” with Citadelle gin, Ramazzotti amaro, and sweet vermouth; “Smoke Show” (Ilegal mezcal, lime, ginger beer); and a Bacardi-and-banana liqueur “Banana Hammock.” The spirit-free “Solarize” and “Kicks, Like a Mule” are named for classic DJ tracks. Cocktails are $12 each.

Happy hour from Wednesday to Friday (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) shaves $2 off all cocktails, rail drinks, and draft beers.

DJ booths on both levels capitalize on a pristine Martin Audio sound system installed throughout the venue.
Mykl Wu

“D.C. has had a vibrant underground dance scene for longer than many people realize,” says general manager Ken Brobeck. He held the same role at U Street Music Hall, the iconic D.C. nightclub that closed in 2020 after a 10-year run.

Like the recently relocated Eighteenth Street Lounge in Shaw, the new Owl Room wants to revive and preserve the city’s longstanding DJ culture that went dormant during the pandemic. The lineup for Owl Room’s opening weekend includes the D.C. return of Ultra Nate’s Deep Sugar out of Baltimore, as well as homegrown pioneers Dance Club (Joyce, Tommy C, and Baronhawk) and Keenan Orr.

Cover charges will typically range between $20 to $30 when a visiting DJ or special guest swings through. For now, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights waive entry fees, pending on programming.

A strong showing of local and national artists, some with their own record labels, are booked to perform during the first few weekends. That includes Beautiful Swimmers, Charles Feelgood, drum and bass legend Doc Scott, DJ Lisa Frank, DJ Slant, Wayne Davis, Mathias, and Grand Ancestor Sound System.

“We look forward to using our collective experiences to build a home for both our artists, and for our diverse community of music lovers,” says Brobeck, in a statement.

Door times will vary, and tickets and information on upcoming shows will be available online.

Owl Room’s main dance floor is shrouded in soft red drapes.
Mykl Wu
The second-level bar leads to an outdoor patio.
Mykl Wu

Back in fall 2020, Marvin was one of seven popular U Street corridor bars on the chopping block due to the pandemic. Eric and Ian Hilton, the brothers behind one of the city’s most influential hospitality groups, did an about-face and ended up bringing most back. Echo Park is now Whitlow’s, and Marvin’s transformation into Owl Room is a “separate venue and brand new concept,” a rep tells Eater.

Here’s a look at the cocktail menu:

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