“I haven’t thought about this in forever!” exclaims Hooman Pedram, award winning club owner, entrepreneur and current owner of TripAdvisor’s top-five rated Tap and Still Restaurant of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. What he had not thought about in forever? The five years that he was a key member of the ownership group behind influential Northwest DC nightclub Club Five (now where Public Bar is located near Dupont Circle), and his role in the development of the current boom era for nightlife in the Nation’s Capital.
Fifteen years ago, North America’s love of dance music – similar to right now – experienced some of it’s most significant commercial growth in Washington, DC. When Pedram was based out of Washington, DC and the General Manager of now closed Northwest DC nightspot Club Five from 2003-2008, it was quite the amazing era.
“I started off going to clubs, then I got into passing out flyers, promoting, management, it was a chain of events and it really took off from there. Originally, I was just into the music. I’d go to Fifth Column [located at F Street NW, closed in 1996] on Monday nights, and it was a little more commercial. Then, I’d go to Tracks [then located on First Street SE] on Thursday night, which had a goth side of the room and an industrial side. At that time, rave DJs like Scott Henry and Charles Feelgood would play at Tracks. Those were my two places that I used to go to. Then I started going to Zei Club [near downtown’s McPherson Square], too.”
“Just before [me and my partners] got involved with Five, we were throwing parties where the [Washington Nationals] stadium is now, at a club called Edge (located in Southeast DC, closed in 2006).” Regarding his promotional strategy, he also offers advice for new promoters, too. “ I knew people in DC. It was an easy place for me to do something. I had roots there. People knew me, I had friends and connections, too. It’s all about building a database. It’s all about numbers and knowing a lot of people.”
“The club [we initially were using for parties] was near Capital Ballroom and Tracks, too. We got into a partnership with the owner at Five, as he didn’t want to run it anymore, so we came in as promoters, and then had the chance to buy into the club down the line. [Club Five] had a comfortable feel, it was non-pretentious and mostly about the music.”
In regards to the bridge between, say, Club Five to Fur Nightclub and Antonis Karagounis’ Echostage, Pedram tells a most entertaining tale about his involvement. “The DJs we were getting, nobody else was really getting at that time. We were more house, and the Buzz vibe was more techno. It’s intriguing, trace didn’t really come around until Antonis [Karagounis] and them started Panorama Productions. Actually, here’s a great story. Back then, I worked at a travel agency with my friend Jason Martin, and we used to fly DJs around the country. Right before I bought into Club Five, I was working with starting Red Bull. I lived in Colorado for a winter, and I took this energy drink that I saw out there, and I had it shipped across the country to my house. I used to go to Zei Club when Antonis and his crew had their Panorama parties there. I was the guy who was selling the Red Bull there. [Of course], in the daytime, I was still a travel agent for DJs for tours.”
He continues, “at that time [Buzz resident DJ] Scott Henry had the lockdown for DJs. You couldn’t get a DJ into DC that was worth a lick if you weren’t Scott Henry. Antonis [and Panorama] were doing great parties, but they had no big-name DJs. They did have a big crowd, though, and they wanted to take it to the next level. [Ultimately], I helped them book Christopher Lawrence, who was the first “big name” DJ that they booked. Once they booked him, they hit the ground running, and you see what it is now, right? (laughs)”
After leaving Club Five in 2008, Pedram relocated to the US Virgin Islands, where after a stutter-step, has truly found success and happiness with the Tap and Still Restaurant. Reflecting, he says “I opened a nightclub down here and it did good for two years, but this wasn’t the right market for it. I sold the club, regrouped and now I have a restaurant open in the marina.” Insofar as his restaurant’s success, he’s extremely positive. “It’s a great life down here. As a restaurateur with promotional experience in nightclubs and events, I’m more than able to compete. I can run the restaurant, have the party, and run a series of events, too. I’ve certainly used my Washington, DC pedigree to my advantage down here. We still do DJs [at the Tap and Still]. I’ve taken it back like 100 steps, though. There’s no DJ booth. We set it up every week. We pull up a table, have some speakers set up in the corner and we’re ready to party. It’s packed every weekend!”
For as influential as Hooman Pedram was to the current massive success of DC as a nightlife destination city, his thoughts about where DC is headed in the future certainly can’t be surprising at all: “I’m still close to the East coast! Keep an eye out for me [in DC] in 2016!”
Follow Hooman to get all the latest updates on his nightlife ventures: facebook.com/kingofclubTweet