MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Back in June, at the technical start of this sweltering summer, we rolled out a new series we're calling "D.C. Dives." As the name suggests, we've been visiting the city's best dive bars, you know, the sort of watering holes you'd probably miss unless you're in the know. In our debut, we visited the Raven Grille in Mount Pleasant and this time around, Jerad Walker takes us to the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring.
MR. JERAD WALKER
To the uninitiated, the Quarry House Tavern may be difficult to find, but former general manager, Gordon Banks, says that's not by design.
MR. GORDON BANKS
So we don't have a sign. Our big sign actually blew away in a storm and the other sign got stolen.
You'd think that might be a problem for a bar whose entrance is located down a poorly lit stairwell in the basement of an Indian restaurant. But owner Jackie Greenbaum says the clientele of the Quarry House is a resilient and in her words, "self-selecting crowd."
MS. JACKIE GREENBAUM
There are people that walk down the steps that fall in love and they know this is their new bar and there's people that walk down the steps or who won't go down the steps who just hightail it out.
And once you enter the Quarry House, two things immediately stand out. Number one, the bar is dark.
There is a window, but there's something covering it up and then...
And number two...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1
The ceiling's really low.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1
Watch your head, that's important.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2
There's, like, three dropped ceilings.
The ceiling is really low. So just how low is it? Well, on this Saturday night, Silver Spring residents, Brent Ewig and Samantha Biondo, are dancing to live music from Rockabilly band, the Ultrakings. With each twirl and hop, their heads come within a foot of the plaster. But they don't seem to mind. Samantha says it's all part of the draw for them.
MS. SAMANTHA BIONDO
This is our local dive bar so to the extent we get out with two little kids ,we do try to come here as much as possible. They usually have really good music on Saturday nights and it's just the kind of place where you can come and it's very casual and it's, you know, laid back to the point that they don't even answer the phone when you call.
As the bar's former booking agent, musician J.P. McDermott helped create the live music scene with its emphasis on rockabilly music.
MR. J.P. MCDERMOTT
It's part of what I think makes the Quarry House so unique because with that sort of fun music in there on a Saturday night, you get a range of ages. You get people who were listening to Elvis Presley when he first hit the radio and the younger kids who are there at the Quarry House anyway because it's a cool place to be.
McDermott thinks that this Silver Spring establishment is the perfect dive.
I think a dive bar's got to have sort of a dark atmosphere. Underground bars work great as dive bars, you know, you're sort of away from the prying eyes of the street. It's got to have some good music, it's got to have an interesting staff and an interesting crowd and, I think, the Quarry House hits on all those bells.
And the staff at the Quarry House have plenty of interesting stories.
We had a gentleman walk in bare-ass naked and walk up to the bar and say may I have a vodka cranberry? He was very polite. I had some new bartenders in there, jaws dropped, didn't know what to do. And one of the other bartenders, who was kind of training them, just walks up to him, puts his arm around him, and goes, come on, naked guy, and walks him back up the stairs where the police were waiting for him. And I was like, here we go. This is why my parents want me to take computer classes.
Tonight, all of the customers are fully clothed and well behaved. Couples are dancing to live music, friends are huddled together at their tables and conversations are piercing through the wailing sound of the Telecaster guitar. In other words, it's just another Saturday night at the Quarry House Tavern. I'm Jerad Walker.
A quick note, Saturday night is Rockabilly night at the Quarry House Tavern and this week, J.P. McDermott will be making an appearance. If you have a favorite dive bar you'd like to nominate for this series, we are all ears. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet. Our handle is @wamumetro.
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