One of the most iconic music venues in the world and a landmark in Washington, D.C., that has been closed due to the pandemic is unlikely to reopen at its original site.
Blues Alley has been a landmark in the heart of Georgetown since 1965. The former horse barn was converted into a nightclub for dixie land and swing. Over the years, it morphed into a jazz club now famous for hosting just about every great jazz artist in modern history in an intimate atmosphere that sat only 124 people.
“The smallest room in the city that had the biggest names,” said former director of operations Ralph Camilli.
Camilli worked at Blues Alley for almost three decades and recalls everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Stan Getz and Tony Bennett playing the club.
The owner of the building, Snyder Properties, says the building is now for sale.
The owner of the property and the owner of the business said talks between the two sides have stalled.
Because of the size and occupancy restrictions for such a small live music venue, it’s unclear if reopening at the location would be viable after the pandemic.
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“I’ve heard people tell me they would bring their kids and they would tell me that their parents brought them in as a kid in to see people like Dizzy or Stan Getz or somebody and they were passing on that tradition to them,” Camilli said.
“Guts us, the idea that that stage won’t be there anymore,” he said.
The owner of the club said he plans to continue to stream live shows from the National Press Club and hopes to reopen Blues Alley after the pandemic, he just doesn’t know where. He said it’s unlikely to be in Georgetown.
The owner of the building said she has repeatedly tried to renegotiate the lease with the club owner and she hopes the club will reopen in Georgetown.