The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts decided to delay the opening of its “Heist” pop-up nightclub, which was originally scheduled for this Saturday, to make sure it can safely hold the outdoor event in full compliance with all of the city’s coronavirus guidelines.
Heist is planning to open a weekly pop-up lounge atop the Kennedy Center, after it contracted to rent the terrace. It is designed as a Saturday night residency on a 20,000-square-foot section of the center’s rooftop.
There will be further evaluation of the measures taken to ensure “such gatherings meet our building’s health and safety standards as well as respect the city’s latest reopening guidelines,” the center said in a statement on Wednesday.
Heist’s managers also issued a press release, saying that they agreed with the center’s decision.
“The Kennedy Center and the city have been incredible partners in our attempt to bring back responsible nightlife programming, and if we are going to delay our opening in order to further ensure safety, that is a small sacrifice we are happy to make,” said Heist DC owner Vinoda Basnayake, who is also the chair of the Commission of Nightlife and Culture for the District.
‘Any individual can propose such a concept to the Kennedy Center’
Basnayake explained in the release that they initially applied for an outdoor streatery permit from the city in an effort to return nightlife to the District, but they were denied due to the sidewalks not being wide enough. Then they came up with the idea of creating a pop-up Heist at a rented outdoor space.
“We applied for and received all the necessary permits, even hired a third party Covid-19 compliance officer, and got underway to open an outdoor venue pop-up at the Kennedy Center that was in full compliance with all of the city’s guidelines for outdoor reopening. Our goal was to set the gold standard for a responsible nightlife reopening… Our grand opening sold out in minutes and it was a really great day for a staff that had been out of work for months,” he said, adding that a new opening date will be announced soon.
Basnayake also denied the allegations that Heist secured the contract with the Kennedy Center because of his post as head of the Commision on Nightlife and Culture, saying “any individual or business had the same opportunity to reach out to the Kennedy Center and propose such a concept.”
The center is among the six venues that are permitted to restart live indoor performances with a limited capacity as part of a pilot program launched by the city as it is gradually reopening after the coronavirus pandemic hit the area.