“The guitars are meant to be touched,” explains Russell Hirshon. He’s currently converting the basement of Darlington House into a music lover’s heaven called DIVE that will have its grand opening on New Year’s Eve. His goal is to celebrate the spirit of Childe Harold, which operated at the same address for 40 years until it closed in 2007.
Longtime Washingtonians may remember the club as a place where notable greats like Bruce Springsteen and Emmylou Harris once played. Hirshon says patrons can ogle The Boss’ signed 1973 contract; he played for $250 a night.
The walls will also be adorned with guitars that customers will be allowed to play at Friday open mic nights, which kick off Jan. 11. “This isn’t Hard Rock Cafe,” he says. “It’s not an untouchable museum to rock greats.”
Keeping with the music theme, everyone who comes into DIVE will get a guitar pick featuring the bar’s logo that can be used to play ukuleles that will be placed at each table “so you can strum it out.”
DIVE will be open seven nights a week, serving an abbreviated menu from the upstairs Darlington House menu. Darlington House owners Fabio and Patricia Beggiato are on board as partners.
“We’re just looking to bring back a little history of what we have here and it looks great,” Hirshon says. “I woke up two months ago and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we did something special down there? It’s a waste of space and life is short.”
As for the name, Hirshon says he picked it because the basement bar “doesn’t aspire to be too much.” He also wants people to “dive right in” to performing on open mic nights, hence why the bar’s logo is a diver. “You come in here and you’re not going to be impressed by the couches. It’s the way it used to be.”
DIVE, 1610 20th St. NW; divedc.com