The 9:30 Club is considered one of the most prestigious venues of any size in the United States. The 9:30 Club is a cashless venue. They do not take cash at the bars, for food, for parking, or at the box office. It has 3 bar locations within view of the stage… one on each side of the stage on the main level, and one on the top level along with a coffee and cupcake bar. A fourth bar is located in the basement called The Backbar, where patrons can enjoy a drink and talk with friends before, during, or after the show, or parents who have brought their kids can sit and unwind. On average, they have 30 different beers on tap throughout the 4 bars, as well as standard, mid, and top-rail drinks. Since cash is not accepted, the other option of payment at the bar is using the app ROOAM. ROOAM is an app that lets you pay your bar tab from your phone.
On the main level, there is a walk-up window known as Food-food, where patrons can order light fares, like tacos, wraps, nachos, and salads.
On most nights, the shows are standing-room only. There is an area in front of the top-level bar that does have bar stools and a drink/food rail, and they are first come, first serve. If you are handicapped or have health issues that require you to sit, a staff member will gladly help accommodate you.
There will be instances where The 9:30 Club will put chairs out on the main level for performance. These instances have been for spoken word or comedy acts, live interviews, podcasts, and concerts where the artist requests that the audience be seated to create a certain atmosphere for the show.
The 9:30 Club staff are top-notch. The club does not hire outside security services. They train every employee on how to diffuse any situation with patrons in a calm manner and with zero violence. There are always several members of staff in the venue, who are trained in giving medical attention to any health situation. The club does not have “bouncers”, they have door staff, and they can handle many aspects of a patrons’ night, to make sure their experience at the club will be memorable and they will want to return over and over.
The door staff has been applauded by the artists and their crew year after year, which has given the venue a great reputation thru word of mouth and has made The 9:30 Club, a must-play venue on any band’s bucket list. The sound and lighting system is state-of-the-art and up-to-date. The stage was designed to roll forward and backward. A full-capacity show would push the stage as far back as possible, while a show that has not sold as well as expected would have the stage pushed forward to make the room feel more at capacity and give a little intimacy with the artist and their fans.
From its humble beginnings at its first, smaller location in downtown Washington DC to its current locale, the 9:30 Club has been a must-play venue by artists of all genres for over 40 years. The capacity for this venue was 200 patrons. In the early ’80s, the original location was a stop for alternative and independent acts in their early years on tour. Artists like R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, DEVO, Nirvana, Steele Pulse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Go-Gos, and Marshall Crenshaw are just a few that made frequent stops at The 9:30 Club. Even legendary jazz crooner Tony Bennet gave a performance. The 9:30 Club has always catered to hosting local artists. Bands like Band Brains, Root Boy Slim, Fugazi, Tiny Desk Unit, The Slickee Boys, and the godfather of the DC sound of go-go music, Chuck Brown really helped put the 9:30 Club on the map.
In 1996, the club was moved to its current, and much larger location with The Smashing Pumpkins playing the inaugural show. Since, it has been host to a wide range of musical talent. Prince, Adele, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Dream Theater, Loretta Lynn, The Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan, Foo Fighters, Al Green, Megadeth, Green Day, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Black Crowes, Deadmau5 are just a few of the major acts to grace the 9:30 Club, as well as keeping true to the local scene with artists like O.A.R., Clutch, Jawbox, The Apes, Animals As Leaders and Thievery Corporation.
The 9:30 Club has received countless awards over the years, including Best Nighclub by Pollstar over a dozen times. It has won The Top Club Award by Billboard Magazine. It was rated the number one Big Room in America by Rolling Stone, and in 2019, it was awarded Venue of the Decade from VenuesNow.