Heart Bomb Event Celebrating the Legacy of the ClubHouse
Join us on June 8th!
Join us on June 8th at 9 AM to celebrate the legacy of the ClubHouse and participate in a special "heart bomb" honoring an important location for LGBTQ activism in the District. We'll shower this building with notes of appreciation and love to highlight the important legacy of this space. Light refreshments will be served after talking points are delivered by the ClubHouse leadership and local community advocates.
Learn More about the ClubHouse
During Gay Pride Month, Uptown Main Street joins the founders and fans of DC’s legendary dance club, the ‘ClubHouse,’ to celebrate the ClubHouse’s history of innovation in music and legacy as a cultural icon for the black LGBTQ community.
On June 8 at 9 a.m., Uptown Main Street will host a heart bomb event at 1296 Upshur Street NW, the historic home of the ClubHouse. Community members, fans of the nightclub, historic preservation advocates, and champions for preservation of DC’s culture heritage are all invited to help decorate the building with expressions of love and admiration.
Heart Bombing, an inspiration of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is the act of showering a historic place with visible expressions of affection and devotion to help spur efforts to protect the landmark for future generations.
“Gay pride month is the time when we focus on the history and cultural contributions of the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, the unique histories of minority LBGTQ communities are often forgotten, or at best, dealt with indirectly,” said Jack Campbell, Board Chair for Uptown Main Street.
In May 1975, the ClubHouse founders, John Eddy, Morrell Chasten and Aundrea Scott, opened the ClubHouse doors at 1296 Upshur Street, NW. With the help of the management team that included Paulette Scott and Rainey Cheeks, the ClubHouse was the most successful dance club project of the Metropolitan Capitolites, one of DC's earliest gay-oriented social clubs. In the segregated, white-dominated Washington social scene of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, social clubs provided an essential entertainment and meeting space, as well as social networking opportunities, for African American gays and lesbians. That sense of the ClubHouse as a community space for African American gays and lesbians continued through to the 80’s and 90’s, as discriminatory admissions practices persisted in some of DC’s white-gay establishments.
The ClubHouse’s role in the history of club music is well established. The ClubHouse and its DJs helped shape the house music genre as it emerged in the 80s by creating their own DC style of house music. In addition, the club trained and employed a generation of DJs who carried the DC version of house music around the nation and the world. The legendary Clubhouse sound system and DJ booth installation also was widely copied. “We began with just two lights, a mere eight speakers and a large mirror ball in the middle of the room, but within a year we had the best sound system in the world,” recalls Eddy.
The ClubHouse was also an important center for LGBTQ activism in the District. The impact of the ClubHouse’s founders social activism continues to this day. Founded as a non-profit and throughout its history, the ClubHouse loaned its space to community organizations and its energies to important causes for the gay-African American community. In 1979, the club helped fund the Third World Gays Conference, which brought together black, Latino, Asian, and Native American LGBTQ people to stimulate dialogue and encourage solidarity in order to confront the issues facing them as racial and sexual minorities.
In 1979, the club helped fund the Third World Gays Conference, which brought together black, Latino, Asian, and Native American LGBTQ people to stimulate dialogue and encourage solidarity in order to confront the issues facing them as racial and sexual minorities.
During the 1980s, the ClubHouse was instrumental in creating an awareness of HIV/AIDS in the African American community. In September 1983, the club founders lent their space, mailing list, and organizing ability to the first forum for African Americans on AIDS, jointly sponsored with Whitman Walker Clinic. Less than 18 months later, Led by Cheeks, members of the ClubHouse team organized a holistic health response to AIDS that became Us Helping Us, one of DC's most important African American AIDS education and support organizations. Us Helping Us met at the ClubHouse until it closed in 1990. Today, Us Helping Us, remains one of the largest HIV/AIDS public health organizations in Washington, DC. The group celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018.