Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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Could the late-night drinking crowd on H Street NE lack a taste for pasties? Or was it just that Red Palace, the strip’s only burlesque club, couldn’t figure out how to pry open people’s wallets? In the days before Red Palace announced it would close its doors on Jan. 1, 2013, owner Joe Englert didn’t offer any insights into his rationale. But one thing is clear: Even with a new brunch service and a revamp of its physical structure and brand—Red Palace was the test-tube baby of two other venues, The Red & the Black and Palace of Wonders—the venue couldn’t find its golden ticket. Now the other rock clubs in Englert’s pocket, Rock & Roll Hotel and DC9, face even stiffer booking competition from their biggest rival: The united front of 9:30 Club, U Street Music Hall, and Black Cat, which established a symbiotic business alliance in 2011.