Washington, D.C., has a long storied history when it comes to nightlife, particularly spaces where Black folks can be their full selves all while feeling safe and comfortable. The pandemic and gentrification have caused plenty of these spaces to shut down in recent years. For a moment, things looked bleak for Chocolate City, it seemed to be losing some of its identity through all the new businesses popping up to cater to “newer” residents. Fortunately, a new guard of Black folks is bringing back that feeling.
At the forefront of this movement is Shanklin Hall, founded in 2019 by a group of friends and siblings during a visit to Pharrell’s “Something in the Water.” Their goals were simple: bring back the type of community-spirited events that D.C. has always had, with their own flavor.
You would be excused for assuming that Shanklin Hall is the name of a long-running Washingtonian institution. The name is an amalgamation of all the founders’ last names, three of which are siblings (Shanklin) and two that conveniently share a surname (Hall). It is very important that they are able to bring something to the city that feels like the culture they grew up experiencing and is connected to their family and heritage as DC natives.
In the years since its conception, Shanklin Hall has been responsible for hosting some of the most innovative events and activations that the area has seen in recent years. They’ve done adult summer camps, therapy sessions, art events, brunches, and many parties. It makes sense that the next logical step in their journey is tying down a permanent brick-and-mortar space from which to operate.
The founders chose to occupy the space formerly home to “Columbia Station” on 18th Street NW. Formerly home to one of the most historic jazz clubs in D.C., they want to bring back space for “us” in an area that needs some rejuvenation in the face of gentrification. The space will be a continuation and moving forward of a long legacy and history that exists in Adams Morgan and D.C. as a whole, the feeling of Black Broadway and Chocolate City…
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For more information or to donate to Shanklin Hall, visit their website.