What Has Happened to Washington Avenue?
To be perfectly honest, I never much cared for Washington Avenue. Then again, I don't have anything resembling what you might call a South Beach personality. I tend to shun velvet ropes and collared shirts after hours, and I definitely prefer either a band be onstage or to hang out somewhere you don't have to shout to be heard.
Photo by Bill Olive Pearl Bar in happier times
Those kinds of places grew in short supply as Washington became Houston's pre-eminent adult playground these past few years. But its luster has slowly dimmed when confronted by increasing traffic congestion, exploding residential development and newer nightlife districts like upper Kirby, where Houston's young people just seem to be having more fun.
And even now the avenue isn't a total write-off. The Dark Horse is still around (and hopefully always will be), the Blue Moose Lodge is bringing in some of the region's finer lesser-known country artists once a week, and the monthly Bombon at Fox Hollow is going great guns as Houston's hottest recurring Latin dance party.
But it was still hard not to read this past weekend's developments as a significant signpost on the avenue's timeline. And not a happy one, either. Saturday, the state comptroller's office visited the ailing Pearl Bar, which had also run afoul of the TABC several times recently. In turn, one of Pearl's neighbors told us he thought recent business on Washington could be down by as much as 10 percent. Reports of state visits to nearby bars have already started to trickle in.
Naturally, Washington's woes came as welcome news to some readers who characterize the scene as full of status-obssessed "douchebags" and carpetbagging suburbanites looking for an easy hookup and to drink their fill of kamikazes or Jaeger bombs. Others lament the days when Washington housed some of Houston's finest live-music halls, such as Rockefeller's, Satellite Lounge, the Vatican, Mary Jane's, the Bon Ton Room and Club Hey Hey.
Former porn star and "hedgehog" Ron Jeremy hosted a party at one of Washington's older clubs, The Drake, last month.
We selected some of the more choice Facebook comments from our original post, and welcome you to join in, whether you would like to pile on Washington's woes, or simply remember the street in happier times.
Jack Gilbert: "Apparently, one-size-fits-all trendiness is no longer trending upward."
William Michael Smith: "If there's anything to evolution, three years from now all those nouveau bars will be gone, replaced by taquerias and adult book stores, like Washington used to be."
Jimi Austin: "Bad area for an entertainment district. Not near enough parking, narrow streets, and not a single hotel."