By: Amiyah King
WASHINGTON – Shuffling side to side on the merely two-foot-wide stage, his heart raced as his trembling hand reached for his whiskey glass. He pulled the cup to his lips and sipped from the colored straw. Moistened by its remedy, the man introduced himself with a slight stammer and said “Are you guys ready for some gay comedy?”
Gay comedy isn’t necessarily the only thing offered at Chinese Disco’s open mic nights. The small club in Georgetown hosts free comedy nights every Friday in the fall season. It’s the home of many regular performers but also gladly welcomes amateurs. The club’s intimate setting makes for a cozy environment for their audience typically comprised of “young single people in their 20s.”
Its owner, Curt Shackelford, recognizes the recent gentrification in the surrounding areas and prides his club on being “the only live entertainment option in Georgetown.” Having an inexpensive, fun night on the town is made possible at Disco’s. Not only is takeout food encouraged at the bar, but the drink prices are low and cups are filled plentiful. The friendly staff and welcoming hosts are also some of the great additives of making this club your go-to Friday night stop.
Frequent club goer, Jazmyn Beaucham landed at Disco’s from and Eventbrite ad and has appreciated it since. She noted that the show is particularly different from others she’s attended in that the “joke quality is better” and emphasizes the fact that there is a “nonexistent [racist]” climate.
From the audience to performers, it is clear that Chinese Disco is a place made comfortable for all people in the metropolitan area. In fact, Nat Lewis, a regular performer at the club, says the atmosphere is fluid and the “crowd is always full of life.” Every week, he prepares to entertain a crowd of about 50 in the venue, which is also close to home for him.
Lewis introduces his stand up with the aforementioned quote of “gay comedy” and projects his sexuality freely through his jokes. As a crowd favorite, he is also notable for his intense laugh at the club. “Whiskey, whiskey and more whiskey, that’s the key” says Lewis, as he describes his pre-game ritual.
Other performers take a slightly more serious approach to preparing for the show. “Once I establish the material I’m going to do I try a bunch of dry runs and time the overall, as well as, how much time it takes me to deliver each bit,” says Robert Hoffman, a seasoned comedian. The atmosphere at Chinese Disco is one that’s made suitable for all kinds of comedians and audience members. There is an enforced, no phone, no talking policy which enhances the experience of viewing. Comedian, Hoffman says “I like how quiet it is and how focused everyone is on the show. No distractions. Not every venue is like that and that is very important.”
Contrary to its name, the club in fact is not disco themed, nor does it have any background in Chinese culture or celebration. The name is an inside joke that owner, Curt Shackelford keeps alive from its early start in the 1980s. Shackelford explains, “The place used to be a Chinese restaurant that would turn into a dancing disco party place every Friday and Saturday night after 9pm, and it became known as ‘The Chinese Disco.’ The Chinese restaurant is long gone but the story lives on!”
With free admission, unlimited laughs and guaranteed fun, Chinese Disco is a great hangout place for those in the area. The club welcomes all, invites 18+ age groups and is located in Ward 2.