On Dec. 2, Brandon Burke and Shaun Mykals will open the doors of Thurst Lounge, the only Black-owned lounge in the area since the 2021 closing of the beloved club The Bachelor’s Mill, dubbed “The Mill” by many frequenters, according to a press release provided to Blavity.
The creators of the establishment believed it was time to have a location that welcomes all in addition to being a comfortable space for the Black gay community.
“Since the start of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in Black and brown people wanting spaces that center us as their target audience,” co-owner Brandon Burke said per the press release.
“And as we’ve seen spaces like Lambda Lounge and 4West open in New York City, people have been questioning why we don’t have at least one black-owned LGTBQ+ space in DC,” co-owner Shaun Mykals added.
Some of the places that were once the threshold of the Black LGBTQ+ community like Nob Hill, Culture Club, Lace on The Avenue and “The Mill” were hubs that offered welcoming environments that allowed Black and brown people a place to “be their authentic selves at a time when being queer was not as widely accepted.”
With those environments no longer in business, Burke and Mykals are excited to fill in the gaps and bring what they feel the DMV area is missing.
“Thurst is our love letter to DC’s Black queer community. We wanted to create a space that represents and honors the unique and culturally rich black gay experience. As a community, we deserve so much more than just special nights or events at spaces that do not center our experience,” the two said in a joint statement.
They’ve worked in the club scene for some time now with a recognized event known as “Thursday Bliss: An Open Mic Experience,” which has been consistent for 11 years. Despite it created being for everybody in mind, the LGBTQ+ community has been the main demographic.
It wasn’t easy for the entrepreneurs to make it to this point though. The duo was met with several challenges pertaining to “money and experience” that caused them to revise their strategy along the way. They decided to partner with Mosab Salih and Doaa Aloori, who own multiple commercial real estate properties, where the two hosted some of their events. They are thrilled to see their vision now become a reality.
“We are overjoyed that our vision is finally coming to fruition,” Burke said.
“It’s been a long road, but we look forward to the many opportunities we believe this venture will bring to our community,” Mykals added.
Thurst Lounge is located at 2204 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009. More details about the grand opening will be shared soon, so be sure to keep an eye on the company’s website to stay in the know!