Has Wonderland Changed?

I hadn’t been to Wonderland Ballroom, located at 11th and Kenyon, on a Sat. night in quite a while. I’m not saying it was bad, but it was definitely different than what I remembered. It used to be filled with alternative types. But last night, I’m telling you, the upstairs was filled with a sort of flashback to the that preppy 80s period. I remember that period of popped collars and bad music quite well. Many women were wearing like ballroom gowns. At Wonderland. What’s going on here? What happened to the PBR crowd? I don’t like to judge but well, it gives me pause. Is this a new scene? Has Wonderland on Sat. nights changed? What’s going on?

33 Comment

  • It has absolutely changed. I used to feel comfortable going there on a Friday or Saturday night, wearing the clothes I had bummed around in all day–it was a neighborhood place at its best.

    Now on weekends it is full of preppy types who got dressed up for a night out. It has definitely changed, and I find that I go much less frequently than I used to.

  • Welcome to Columbia Heights, 2007.

    What’s happening at Wonderland is the same trend you can see through out the neighborhood as a whole.

  • I think Wonderland really started blowing up on Friday and Saturday nights about a year ago. Before that it was really cool — layed back and casual and diverse. Now it’s just pretentious and no different than any bar in Adams Morgan.

    I still like Wonderland at odd times, like after work…but at prime time it’s become too primetime.

    Hopefully Temperance Hall can stay honest and not go down that same path.

  • The first time I had been to Wonderland was on a Tuesday night to see a friend of a friend spin electro/old school hip hop records. The night became a weekly event (may still be happening?). I think things like that night brought a lot of new people and their friends and their friends’ friends out.

    By the way, did anyone catch Chuck Klosterman’s reading/book signing at Wonderland? 😉

  • The live music on sundays is still laid back.

  • I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, much like most of this site, you are wildly behind what is actually going on in your neighborhood. Wonderland is far removed from the dive bar it once was. It lost that title about 2 years ago. Now it is filled with yuppies attempting to “slum it” for the experience, so I would think it fits in quite well with your audience.

  • wow, “wake up”….way to generalize…if you actually read most of the comments on this site you’d realize that PoP’s audience is quite diverse in age, gender, race, etc…but we were in need of a schmuck to round things off so thanks for showing up

  • You can insult me, but please don’t insult yuppies. In certain circles, Yuppies have come to symbolize America. And I’m not going to sit here while you insult the United States of America.

  • POP,
    Nice Animal House reference. It is likely Wonderland is changing and I’ll give an example with your old hood – Williamsburg in NYC. A somewhat overlooked, run down (in image not reality) neighborhood that is located near the affluent area of NYC. First, Bohemian, artist, alternative life stylers and some adventurist types discover the good housing stock and cheap prices and move in and they make Wonderland their home base for weekend activities. They invite friends aka Yuppies over for dinner, drinks, etc. They also see the potential of the neighborhood and they also start buying houses and that moves the prices up. Then as the pricing of homes gets out of the reach of Bohemians trying to buy a home move to another neighborhood – In Williamsburg case they moved to Park Slope or Park Heights. In DC, they move farther east, maybe Annacostia.

  • The Wonderland is great during the week. You just can’t go on the weekends.

  • Really, women were wearing ball gowns? I’d love to see that. My problem with Wonderland on the weekends is, it’s just too packed. That said, I don’t find it pretentious or overly-preppy, for the most part. But yes, Columbia Heights is trendy now, and so that brings a different crowd out. I had to pause and wonder, about a month ago, when an entire bus (yes, a bus! a party bus? a tour bus? not sure…) pulled up to Wonderland around 12:30a.m. and about 50 people got off, in their going-out gear, and went into Wonderland. What the heck is that about?
    As for “Wake Up”, if you think this site is so behind-the-times, why on earth are you reading it? Take your negative ass elsewhere.

  • I read this site simply to see how out of touch my neighbors are with their community. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking that the vast majority of your neighbors are represented by this site. Most of the individuals that inhabit Petworth are not concerned with high-end supermarkets or coffee shops, more specifically whether or not the demographic of a bar outside of the neighborhood has changed.

  • Wake Up, when did anyone claim that this blog was representative of everyone in the neighborhood? Oh yeah, that’s right, never.

    PoP simply posts HIS thoughts up about things, as most people do on blogs, and then those who visit the site, comment. It’s that simple.

    If you wouldn’t mind, wake up, could you please go back to sleep?

  • I agree wonderland has changed. But I have to say I find hipsters drinking PBR to be just as hilariously stereotypical as popped collared exfrater’s in flip-flops. I’m just saying…

  • Clearly, none of the commentors were at the Wonderlan on Sat night. I assume you are talking about the “crew” that showed up around 11:30. I was there, by chance, too!

    There were about 35 kids from Bethesda, dressed in blue jackets, tennis ties and what looked like 80’s style dresses. They all came together as part of a birthday party. I know because I asked. One of them told me that he thought
    his friends were “pretentious”. Many of the neighborhood regulars were there too, but were outnumbered.

    The big difference is that the Wonderland lost there outdoor liquor license, so much of the neighborhood bar scene has gone somewhee else. Until the Bethesda kids came, it was pretty dead.

    In the end, I left and went to the Raven.

  • i was there on friday night with friends…not too packed, i had a good time…just have fun kids, otherwise we’ll never get passed stereotypes and judgement. who cares if the person next to you is not as cool as you. have a beer.

  • KB, I was there too on Sat night, glad you got clarification, but figured it was something like that. Bethesda. They must have gotten lost on their way to Georgetown.

  • I never really bought that the Wonderland was a “Dive” to begin with.

    It’s kind of grubby and smells a bit – in other words it was never fully rennovated, but between the pretty impressive range of beers on tap, the dance partys and events they hold upstairs, and the definite “scenester” vibe there – I don’t think it was EVER a dive bar.

    Temperance is more of a neighborhood place and although not “divey” in appearance it clearly focuses on serving the neighborhood. Wonderland, with its Brightest Young Things crowd and hipster nights is trying to bring people into the neighbourhood, Temperance is more trying to serve those already in the ‘hood.

  • wonderland lost its outdoor liquor license? no more beer garden?

  • I’m telling you, we need an ice house so’s PoP won’t feel funny wearing his t-shirt and shorts out on the town.

    If I suddenly win the lottery I’ll open one in the PW and PoP can wear whatever he wants and have free longnecks as long as he promises not to ask me to put a Yankees game on the teevee (unless the Yankees are losing).

  • Bloggers,

    Some advice from my main man Bill:

    “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

    Stay cool.

  • yeah, can someone give some more details on the loss of the “outdoor liquor license”. that sounds wrong. a place can have a stipulation in its license that allows liquor in outdoor cafes, but i didn’t think they would have 2 licenses (one for outside and one for inside). there has to be something else going on here.

  • can someone clarify why imgoph likes to pick stupid fights?

  • project kb – why do you think i’m picking a fight? i just would like some clarification here. someone brought up some real news in the comments, and i’m interested to hear what others might know about this, that’s all.

  • Actually, they didn’t lose their license. They never had a license for their patio to begin with and they were finally caught.

  • I’ve only ever been there for trivia night on Mondays, when it’s a laid-back, but slightly yuppie and hipster crowd.

  • And I mean no insult by yuppie or hipster. I am yuppie-ish myself.

  • thanks matt. that’s all i wanted to know. i hope they’re able to apply for the ability to legally use their patio, because that’s one of my favorite places to have a beer in DC, rats or not! 🙂

  • They told me that it is a temporary thing. They have to do some fence repairs or something before people can go back to drinking out there.

  • i used to work at sparky’s and we had quite a time getting an outdoor alcohol license. its a little different and more difficult to acquire than the “normal” permit for inside sales; for obvious reasons. part of the holdup was that we weren’t offering table service.

    as for wonderland, i think this happens all the time with bars (st ex, asylum and the raven to some extent). whenever the crowd changes it kinda sucks because you become used to a certain ambiance and attitude. i’m kinda bummed out too. i really liked wonderland as a weekend alternative to a/m.

    anon–you were right about parts of brooklyn in nyc. the same thing happened in neighborhoods there in the 80s and 90s.

  • I Used to really like going there when I first moved here in January. In fact one of the bonuses when I moved from my temporary place on Harvard to my current place is that i was around the corner from Wonderland.
    But sometime in June they fired a bunch of people and now it just doesn’t feel the same. For a bit I was getting better service then I had been, but then one of the guys insulted me for my choice of food…so that niceness was gone.
    Wonderland defiantly doesn’t feel like the place it used to even a few months ago.
    These days I just go to Red Rocks and have only been back to wonderland once this summer.

  • i went to wonderland last night (friday) it was completely mobbed with the strangest crowd i’ve seen in a long time. there was nowhere to move at all, people were spilling drinks all over each other.

    i was there last friday, around the same time, and upstairs was completely empty with the exception of about 30-40 people. everyone was sort of milling about, and a lot of us were dancing. last night, it was wall-to-wall people, upstairs and downstairs.

    last night’s crowd was totally mixed. lots of neighborhood people and regulars looking confused, and then lots of preppy-types looking like they thought the scene was totally normal. people were way more dressed up than i’ve ever seen there – lots of little black tank tops attached to pink drinks. with the patio closed, there was no place to escape to, so after hanging out in front for about 10 minutes, i left.

  • The Raven is a true dive bar. Wonderland never was a dive bar. I was living here when it opened but got sick quickly of the crappy, hostile bartenders (hello can you make more than one drink every six hours!) and the lame hipsters. That crowd, by the way, spends probably twice as long getting ready to go out than the average yuppie.

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