Opened in 1995 by partners who bonded through music, Eighteenth Street Lounge drew legions of fans to its quirky vibe, retro décor, and the feeling of having stumbled onto the city’s best kept secret night spot. No sign outside advertised ESL, and doormen were known for their idiosyncratic admissions “policies.”
Partners Farid Nouri, Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton, and Yama Jewayni’s unique vision featured diverse genres from jazz to reggae, with renowned DJs and live bands on multiple stages scattered throughout the building’s two levels. The vintage velveteen couches and fin de siècle chandeliers contrasted with the high-quality sound systems that permeated the club.
And it wasn’t just a club; it was the recording studio where Eric Hilton and Rob Garza recorded internationally-known Thievery Corporation’s first album shortly after ESL opened.
Over the twenty-five years of its existence, Eighteenth Street Lounge was popular with diplomats, community leaders, celebrities, and two generations of local regulars. It was a landmark venue that transformed DC nightlife.