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The revamped and reopened Clarendon Ballroom (photo courtesy of Albert Ting/B Social Hospitality)

Arlington County code could soon no longer reference “public dance halls” and the dizzying disco the term evokes.

That would mean live entertainment venue operators would be cut loose from paying for a $600 permit annually.

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is slated to hear a request to advertise a public hearing on whether to repeal a section of the county code governing dance halls. If a hearing is approved, the Board could authorize the change next month.

The section of code in question was adopted in 1969, when people were doing the “Funky Chicken.” That year, a state law allowed localities to issue licenses for public dance halls to “regulate and mitigate the land use impacts associated with establishments where dancing occurred,” per a county report.

A Northern Virginia Sun article from the time notes that the first dancing allowed by the permit took place at the Windjammer Lounge of the Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Hotel, the first lodging establishment opened by the now-international hotel chain.

Northern Virginia Sun article on first dance hall permit (via Library of Virginia)

But Arlington County says this regulation is redundant and burdensome for today’s venues hosting DJs remixing Bad Bunny beats.

That’s because four years after the 1969 code was adopted, the county began requiring business owners to obtain a County Board-approved special exception use permit to provide “live entertainment” — a broad category that includes dancing. Anyone looking to allow dancing specifically still needed the dance hall permit.

“These parallel processes effectively result in the Zoning Ordinance being the primary regulatory mechanism for public dance halls with the County Code assuming an administrative function,” according to a county report.

To ease up on live entertainment venues, the county is looking to simplify permitting processes.

Repealing the code, per the report, “both reduces regulatory burdens for small businesses and eliminates unnecessary regulatory processes without adverse impacts to standing policies and practices related to the regulation of live entertainment and public dance halls.”

The county will still regulate live entertainment venues, given the “land use impacts” associated with live venues, such as noise, disorderly guests or frequent police visits. That means there will still be public hearings, when the community can seek redress for potential impacts a venue may have, such as modified hours of operation.

“It is not just that they may be upsetting to neighbors; they are considered impacts because they are potentially ordinance violations,” said Erika Moore, a spokeswoman with the Department of Community, Planning and Development. “For example, music being played would have to violate the Noise Ordinance for it to be considered a land use impact.”

For instance, Arlington had to revoke the live entertainment permits of Pines of Italy and the Purple Lounge, both of which operated from the same building on Columbia Pike, over health and Alcoholic Beverage Control Board violations.

In proposing the change, county staff noted the dwindling number of places seeking dancing permits. For instance, the Salsa Room moved from Columbia Pike to the current Palladium space at 1524 Spring Hill Road in Tysons in March 2020.

“The current number of public dance hall permits represents a reduction of 60% in the total number of public dance halls over the past 5 years,” the report said.

The Zoning Division issued 10 public dance hall permits in the past 12 months, per the county. They were for:

  • Darna (946 N. Jackson Street)
  • Pike Bolivian Pizza (4111 Columbia Pike)
  • O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3207 Washington Blvd.)
  • Restaurante El Salvador (4805 Columbia Pike)
  • Spider Kelly’s (3181 Wilson Blvd)
  • DoubleTree Crystal City Skydome (300 Army Navy Drive)
  • Clarendon Pop-Up (3185 Wilson Blvd)
  • Sushi Rock (1900 Clarendon Blvd)
  • Top of the Town (1400 14th Street N.)
  • Renegade Coffee & Kitchen (3100 Clarendon Blvd)

But that doesn’t mean live entertainment died during the pandemic. Two shuttered venues in Clarendon — Whitlow’s on Wilson and Clarendon Ballroom — have since reopened under new ownership.

In the Whitlow’s space, local restaurateurs Christal and Mike Bramson, who are behind The Lot beer garden, opened B Live and are working to open Coco B’s this fall.

After being home to a series of pop-up bars by the Bramsons, Clarendon Ballroom, was revamped and opened by Michael Darby, a local developer, reality star and former restaurant owner.

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Rosslyn Jazz Fest crowd shot (via Rosslyn Business Improvement District)

Rosslyn’s long-running jazz festival returns this weekend, and the festivities leading up to it will include a roving band in an open-air bus.

The 30th annual Rosslyn Jazz Fest, set for this Saturday, will bring the international sounds and rhythms of jazz to Gateway Park at 1300 Langston Blvd.

From 1-7 p.m., attendees can vibe to performances by the headliner, Cuban funk musician Cimafunk, as well as these acts:

There will be food trucks and yard games, and attendees can browse tables selling merchandise and representing community organizations.

Registration is encouraged due to the park’s capacity limit.

But the jazz party is already getting started, with happy-hour performances this evening and tomorrow. And, for the first time, jazz artists will serenade strollers from an open-top bus rolling through the neighborhood this Thursday.

Tonight (Tuesday), Stickman Band will play from 6-8 p.m. at the outdoor patio of Assembly, located in Rosslyn City Center (1700 N Moore Street).

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Blue Dot Jazz Troupe will accompany shoppers at the Freshfarm Farmers Market and happy hour event from 5-7 p.m.

BroadSound Band will perform a mix of jazz and pop hits from an open-top bus between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursday.

More on that from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which organizes the annual festival:

Rosslyn’s first ever Rosslyn Rolling Concert is here in celebration of our 30th Rosslyn Jazz Fest! On Thursday, Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. an open-top bus will hit the streets through the Rosslyn neighborhood (and beyond) with the BroadSound Band performing a mix of jazz and pop hits!

At each stop, we’ll have Rosslyn swag giveaways for those out in the neighborhood. The bus will stop at designated locations (listed below) for performances, starting and ending at Central Place Plaza. Get rolling into the weekend with this final jazz performance before the festival!

If you can’t make the rolling concert, tune in for live updates on our Instagram story!

ROSSLYN ROLLING CONCERT SCHEDULE

  • (A) 11:00 a.m. – Central Place Plaza
  • (B) 11:30 a.m. – Corner of N. Oak St. and Wilson Blvd. (by Hot Lola’s and the Parklet)
  • (C) 12:00 p.m. – HB Woodlawn Secondary School
  • (D) 12:30 p.m. – 1425 N. Courthouse Rd. (by the Arlington County Justice Center)
  • (E) 1:00 p.m. – 1400 14th St. N. Arlington
  • (F) 1:15 p.m. – Dark Star Park
  • (G) 1:30 p.m. – Central Place Plaza
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A poster for the ¡Viva Cultura! Festival (courtesy of Centro de Apoyo Familiar)

A festival to showcase Latin American music, folk dance, art and food is coming to Rosslyn next month.

The ¡Viva Cultura! Festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 13, at Gateway Park (1300 Langston Blvd), which is a five-minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro station. The event is set to begin at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Centro de Apoyo Familiar is organizing the family-friendly event and plans to provide live music, dance performances, exhibitions and food, according to the festival’s website. Folk dance groups representing countries like Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Puerto Rico are expected to perform their traditional dances in traditional costumes as well.

As for the exhibition, Centro de Apoyo Familiar plans to have artisans from the Caribbean as well as Central and South America offering handcrafted items. Exhibitors include a Colombian handmade jewelry store and organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens. The deadline for becoming an exhibitor is Sunday, July 31, according to the online registration form.

An art exhibition for Latino artists in Arlington is also set. However, registration for it has yet to open, according to the event’s website.

The event will feature a number of activities catered to kids, including face painting, clowns, musical chairs and other games, according to the website. Food trucks selling cuisines from different countries are also expected. Registration for food vendors is still open.

CAF is a nonprofit working in D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia to provide housing counseling to low-income Latino and immigrant families, according to its website.

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The Rosslyn Jazz Festival is scheduled to return in September with Cuban funk musician Cimafunk as the headliner.

Now in its 30th year, the festival is set to again be held at Gateway Park, at 1300 Lee Highway, between 1-7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10.

The event is free to attend but registration is encouraged due to the park’s capacity limit. Registration is set to open on the festival’s Eventbrite page on Monday, Aug. 1 at noon, according to the event’s website.

Music magazine Billboard ranked headliner Cimafunk as one of 10 Latin Artists to Watch in 2019. The musician described his band’s style as a “mix of funk with Cuban music and African rhythms,” according to his website.

The festival this year is set to have “an emphasis on international influences” and the musicians it invited “blend African, Afro-American, and Latino traditions, rhythms and movement with conventional jazz expression,” according to the event’s news release.

The rest of the lineup includes:

Rosslyn Business Improvement District, the organizer of the event, has planned to include food trucks at the event, according to the news release. The BID is also planning on arranging lawn games and merchandise sales, as well as having community organizations set up tables at the venue, President Mary-Claire Burick told ARLnow.

Prior to the festival, Rosslyn is also set to host a week of jazz events like pop-up concerts, Burick said. More information on that will be released later this summer. The jazz festival was held last year, for the first time since before the pandemic., but this year’s event promises to be more full featured.

“As the gateway to the D.C. region, we’re proud to bring back this event to the neighborhood in a way that’s bigger than ever before,” Burick said.

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A series of outdoor summer concerts is starting tonight (Friday) in Crystal City.

NaLa Fridays at the Park, formerly known as Fridays at the Fountain, is set to be held at Long Bridge Park (475 Long Bridge Drive). The concert series is set to run through October, according to the event’s website. One concert is scheduled for each Friday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

This year is set to be the first time the concert series is being held at Long Bridge Park instead of Crystal City Water Park, its usual location. The organizer, the National Landing Business Improvement District, changed the venue because the water park is currently under construction, BID spokesperson Ashley Forrester told ARLnow.

Construction on the water park is expected to be completed in 2023.

The concerts are set to feature local bands and musicians, according to the event’s website. It is free to attend. Reesa Renee, a neo-soul and funk singer, is scheduled to perform at tonight’s series kickoff.

Applications for bands and musicians to perform are still open online. Performers are asked to play for 2.5 hours, according to the application survey.

The current lineup is listed below.

Unlike in previous years, no alcohol will be allowed in the concerts, said Forrester. Alcohol is prohibited at Arlington County parks.

Food trucks are still set to serve the crowds, however. Fine Dining to Go, which provides various types of cuisine from around the world, is set to run the food trucks this Friday, said BID marketing manager Colleen Rasa. Participants are welcome to bring their own food to the venue, according to the event’s website.

There is some seating at the venue and organizers say they will be giving out a limited number of picnic blankets each week to audience members. Attendees are also welcome to bring their own chairs.

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The Lubber Run Amphitheater free summer concert series is back, with the first show set for this Friday.

A total of 29 performances are scheduled between now and Sunday, Aug. 14.

The amphitheater, located near the intersection of N. Columbus Street and 2nd Street N., is an outdoor, open-air space, run by Arlington County to provide family-friendly shows in the summer.

The first show in the lineup is a concert from Mark G. Meadows, a jazz musician, and his band The Movement, along with singer Kanysha Williams. It is set to take place this Friday at 8 p.m. They are expected to feature songs “Moon River” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

The series has scheduled jazz, blues and rock performances, as well as theater, orchestra, a marching band and a puppet show. No shows are currently scheduled for Sunday, June 19, as the amphitheater is closed for Juneteenth.

The shows are open to all members of the family. Audience members are welcome to picnic at the venue, although alcohol is not allowed and smoking discouraged, according to a press release.

Unless otherwise specified, the concerts are set to take place at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. on Sundays. Bad weather may cancel shows, in which case information will be posted on Arlington Arts’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Concertgoers can visit the venue’s website or call 703-228-1850 for more information about the schedule of the day.

This summer’s scheduled shows are below.

  • Friday, June 10: Mark G. Meadows and The Movement, Kanysha Williams
  • Saturday, June 11: Aaron Myers
  • Sunday, June 12: Dan and Claudia Zanes
  • Friday, June 17: Stacy Brooks
  • Saturday, June 18: Bumper Jacksons
  • Friday, June 24: David Chappell and Friends
  • Saturday, June 25: The 19th Street Band
  • Sunday, June 26: Tale Wise: “Pirates Lost at Sea!”
  • Sunday, June 26: Arlington Philharmonic (4 p.m.)
  • Friday, July 1: Griefcat
  • Saturday, July 2: Elikeh
  • Sunday, July 3: Mr. Gabe & Holly
  • Friday, July 8: The Fuss
  • Saturday, July 9: Joe Keyes & The Late Bloomer Band
  • Sunday, July 10: Cody Clark Magic: “Railroad Submarine!”
  • Friday, July 15: Desanguashington
  • Saturday, July 16: King Soul
  • Sunday, July 17: Happenstance Theater: “Pinot & Augustine”
  • Friday, July 22: Wicked Sycamore
  • Saturday, July 23: Soul Crackers
  • Sunday, July 24: Rainbow Rock Band
  • Friday, July 29: Carly Harvey
  • Saturday, July 30: Veronneau presents Blue Tapestry
  • Sunday, July 31: Encore Stage & Studio presents “A Sidewalk Stroll!”
  • Friday, August 5: Avant Bard Theatre, Encore Stage & Studio, Dominion Stage and The Arlington Players
  • Saturday, August 6: Avant Bard Theatre, Encore Stage & Studio, Dominion Stage and The Arlington Players
  • Sunday, August 7: Avant Bard Theatre, Encore Stage & Studio, Dominion Stage and The Arlington Players. (6 p.m.)
  • Thursday, August 11: The 257th Army Band, The Band of the Nation’s Capital. (8 p.m.)
  • Friday, August 12: National Chamber Ensemble
  • Saturday, August 13: Karen Jonas
  • Sunday, August 14: Blue Sky Puppets: “The Three Not So Little Pigs”
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Exterior view of Renegade in Clarendon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The live music scene in Arlington — Clarendon, more specifically — lives on.

The closure of long-time music venues Clarendon Grill and Iota Club between 2017 and 2018 left a void in the local live music scene. That has since been filled by a new generation of venues: The Renegade and the recently-opened B Live, both in Clarendon.

The latter was premised on the need for more performance venues in a place like Arlington.

“Clarendon, historically, has had several live music venues and we saw a few of them fall away,” B Live co-owner Mike Bramson told ARLnow in an interview that published yesterday. “The only remaining live music venue was the Renegade. They do a fantastic job and that’s a great venue, but we felt that historically there was always more than just one live music venue… there should be more than one option for live music as most towns and cities have.”

Of course, our larger neighbor just across the river has a much wider variety of music venues, from the 9:30 Club to Echostage to U Street Music Hall to Pearl Street Warehouse — and plenty more. It’s certainly nice to stay in Arlington for a night out, but whatever we lack here is available in D.C. within a reasonable Uber or Metro ride.

Nonetheless, Arlington continues to grow and has a large population of younger adults who value experiences like live music. And Clarendon is a regional draw — Northern Virginia’s most prominent bar district — so it’s not just Arlington residents that such venues attract.

Today we’re asking whether readers think the pair of live music venues we have now is enough, or whether more are needed.

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When B Live in Clarendon opened to the public earlier this month, it was a big moment for local restaurateurs Christal and Mike Bramson.

The live music venue and restaurant is not the only venture that the married team has in Arlington. They also own several other well-known Clarendon concepts, including The Lot, Clarendon Pop-Up Bar, and Pamplona on Clarendon Blvd, plus they are planning to open a new tropical-themed bar on the roof above B Live, at 2854 Wilson Blvd, later this summer.

But B Live is perhaps the Bramsons’ most ambitious project yet, particularly with the added element that it moved into the former home of iconic watering hole Whitlow’s on Wilson.

ARLnow spoke with the couple about B Live’s debut, “tropical glam,” and the future of their other popular pop-ups. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

ARLnow: B Live has been open to the public for about two weeks now. How has been it going? What has surprised you? What challenges have you all encountered so far? 

Christal Bramson (CB): I think the initial thing that has struck us is that with very limited amounts of press and media, the community was clearly ready for us to open. There’s been an outpouring of support, which we embrace and love, but not necessarily ready yet for lines wrapped around the block.

Is there any pressure opening in the former home of such an iconic Arlington spot? 

Mike Bramson (MB): We definitely felt the pressure going in… we have big shoes to fill. We spent a lot of time on the design and really put a lot of our heart and soul into it.

CB: Obviously, Whitlow’s is an iconic place in Arlington and just want to do credit to the historic corner we are occupying.

MB: I knew the space really well, so we kind of had an idea of what we wanted to do with it. We completely changed the look of the inside, but still kept what people knew most about [Whitlow’s], which was the music and the brunch. We did add a few elements that really made it our own. So far, people’s reactions have been amazing.

What was the thought behind opening another live music venue in Clarendon? 

MB: Clarendon, historically, has had several live music venues and we saw a few of them fall away, either right before the pandemic and, then, right afterwards. The only remaining live music venue was the Renegade. They do a fantastic job and that’s a great venue, but we felt that historically there was always more than just one live music venue… there should be more than one option for live music as most towns and cities have.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) B Live, a live music venue and restaurant, is officially opening to the public this week in the former Whitlow’s on Wilson space.

“The space, which was formerly a portion of beloved classic Whitlow’s on Wilson, will allow guests to engage with the local music scene and enjoy food and drink with a nostalgic, retro diner feel,” said a press release. “B Live will feature live performances 5 nights a week, with a rotating line-up of acoustic solo performances, live bands, and djs.”

The venue at 2854 Wilson Blvd is set to open on Thursday (May 12) with limited bar snacks menu. A full menu and brunch will start serving later in this month on May 25. The first three live musical acts are set with Bryen O’Boyle performing Thursday, My Hero Zero on Friday, and 8 Track Jones on Saturday.

B Live is the latest venture from Michael Bramson, owner of The Lot beer garden and Clarendon Pop-Up Bar in the Clarendon Ballroom space, both of which are located less than a half a mile away from his newest nightlife hangout.

B Live is occupying about 4,100 square feet of what was once Whitlow’s, the beloved Clarendon nightlife spot that closed last June. Capacity will be under 300, including a planned outdoor dining area with seating for 48.

Another Bramson concept, dubbed Coco B’s, is set to open on the rooftop later in the summer.

The interior of B Live “pay[s] homage to live music history” with vinyl record covers and musicians collages lining the walls, and “music hall lighting” adding to the ambiance.

The highlight is a mural entitled “Legends Live Forever” featuring caricatures of musicians such as “Bob Marley, Prince, and Janis Joplin crossing the famed Penny Lane in Beatle-esque fashion.” It was created by local artists Michael Pacheco and Rodrigo Pradel.

“There will be plenty of photo ops throughout the space: find your favorite album on the wall, stand by one of Legends that Live Forever, or snag a photo in front of a neon sign saying ‘bad decisions make good stories,'” notes the release.

The menu, though not yet finalized, is set to be curated by Chef Juan “Nacho” Olivera, formerly of Virginia Square’s Detour Coffee Co. and other local restaurants. There will be an all-day brunch menu, “Clarendon’s only DIY Bloody Mary Bar,” and “cereal milk shooters.”

“Cereal milk from childhood favorites like Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles, and Cocoa Puffs will be infused with vodka and liqueur and served in 4 oz mini cereal bowls,” the release says.

ARLnow reported that B Live was coming to the former Whitlow’s space in December, after Five Guys pulled out of a deal to come to the location.

In March, neighbors brought up concerns about noise at the new venue.

“We are all in support of music, we are all in support of living in an urban dwelling, we understand the considerations that come with living in these neighborhoods,” one neighbor told the County Board after it approved use permits for the space. “But it’s now at a point on Wilson Blvd, in Clarendon, that it’s having a tremendous impact on individuals.”

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The Columbia Pike Blues Festival is back to being fully in-person for the first time in three years.

The mainstay Arlington music festival, which is put on by the Columbia Pike Partnership in partnership with the county, will take place on Saturday, June 18 from 1-8:30 p.m.

All of the performances are set for the Pike’s main stage, unlike the last two iterations of the festival. While neither was officially canceled, the events were completely or partially virtual due to the pandemic.

This year’s version will feature headliner Shemekia Copeland — the Blues Foundation’s 2021 “Entertainer of the Year” — as well as Eric Scott, D.C.-based Robbin Kapsalis & Vintage #18, local band Shakin’ Woods, and Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark.

Local vendors and restaurants will provide food and drinks, plus there will be beer from New District Brewery and a wine list curated by the Pike’s Rincome Thai.

There will be a “Kids Zone” and an “art alley” along 9th Road S. featuring the Arlington Art Truck and work from the Columbia Pike Documentary Project.

2022 is being marketed as the festival’s 25th anniversary due to the format changes over the last two years. The first Columbia Pike Blues Festival was held in 1995.

Beyond Saturday’s day-long festival, a number of other events are being planned over the weekend to celebrate the event’s quarter century anniversary.

On Friday, there’s set to be a special blues festival performance at William Jeffrey’s Tavern. For Sunday morning, a Juneteenth history walk led by the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington is being planned. There will also be live music at the Columbia Pike Farmers Market and at Café Sazón on Sunday morning.

To finish the weekend, there will be a free screening of the 1980 musical-comedy “The Blues Brothers” at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse.

The Columbia Pike Blues Festival is the largest blues festival in the D.C region, according to its website. It often prompts some neighborhood road closures. Upwards of 7,000 people have attended past festivals.

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Clarendon Popup Bar, located inside the former Clarendon Ballroom (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

The Clarendon Pop-Up Bar‘s rooftop has reopened, as uncertainty remains about what’s coming next.

The bar with themes that change seasonally, located inside of the former Clarendon Ballroom at 3185 Wilson Blvd, has opened its rooftop for the warm weather months. The biggest changes from last year are a new schedule, with happy hour starting at 5 p.m., and a “fully replaced new wooden deck,” a spokesperson tells ARLnow.

The bar’s rooftop is “one of Clarendon’s largest outdoor spaces,” according to the website. It is open Wednesday through Saturday.

Clarendon Pop-Up Bar is run by the owners of the nearby beer garden The Lot, located just a three minute walk way. While the pop-up bar is noted for themes like a winter wonderland or 1980s Miami, there’s no theme this time around.

There will, however, be lawn games like corn hole, ring toss, and Jenga as well as a rotating schedule of DJs. This weekend launches the bar’s “spring fling” concert series, with Philadelphia-based band Steal the Sky performing on Saturday night.

The future of Clarendon Pop-Up Bar on Wilson Blvd after this rooftop season remains unclear.

In December 2020 — a year after the original Ballroom closed — Monument Realty purchased the building for $6.7 million. The real estate development company is principally owned by Michael Darby, the (now soon-to-be-former) husband of local reality star Ashley. The couple owned the Australian restaurant Oz in Clarendon together, which was a key storyline in a season of the reality show “Real Housewives of Potomac,” before the restaurant closed in 2019.

Shortly after purchasing 3185 Wilson Blvd, Monument Realty signed a nearly two-year-long lease with the owners of The Lot to operate a pop-up entertainment venue in the 18,000-square-foot Clarendon building. That lease expires later this year.

As ARLnow reported last month, county records now show a building permit in Darby’s name for the construction of a restaurant at 3185 Wilson Blvd. There’s also a pending Virginia ABC application for the space, under the name “The Ball Room,” associated with an LLC that appears to be affiliated with Monument Realty.

A PR rep for Clarendon Pop-Up Bar tells ARLnow that “there are no updates at the moment” in regards to the lease or what’s coming next for the space. Last month, a Monument Realty spokesperson told ARLnow that they “will be in touch when we have additional information to share.”

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