Since January, 2003
            
 (a random before-and-after moment)
September 16, 2007
June 4, 2017
Half at I, Looking Southwest (see more)

They say you never really know what's going on inside the walls of someone's home, and that certainly would have been the case if you had wandered by the northwest corner of Half and N in the early 1980s. The red brick rowhouse at 36 N Street, SE (seen at left in May 2003) would have looked unassuming enough to you, until you opened up your copy of the Washington Post on March 2, 1981, and read this:
"It was his first night at The Playground Swing Club in Southeast Washington, and the 37-year-old Army veteran was ready. He stripped and headed up the red-carpeted stairs to the lounge where a few men and women, most dressed only in robes, were sitting on cushioned floors and platforms. [...] Soon, he and a young woman he had never before met strolled into The Playroom, where bodies were lying in all directions on mattresses and a raised platform. He and the woman joined in. 'Everybody freeze!" a voice suddenly shouted. 'This is a raid!' "
DC police had spent six weeks investigating The Playground, work which included having two undercover police couples "stripped to their underwear [who] spent three hours listening to the friendly discussions and watching the lovemaking." But when the bust happened in February of 1981, there were no charges of anyone paying for sex: the owner eventually was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $500 for operating a public hall without a license and failing to have a proper certificate of occupancy for the club. An additional charge of selling alcohol without a license was dropped.
A few of the "participants" at the house that night were charged under the city's sodomy laws, which brought swift condemnation from the ACLU: "Sexual conduct between consenting adults is none of the government's business." The raid also made for titillating reading in the Post, as the paper dryly explained the "swinging" culture: "What was happening at The Playground was a plain and simple orgy--an activity that seems to have become as common among a certain underground of adults as was dancing cheek-to-cheek in the 1930s."
The Playground was closed soon after, and a 1982 attempt to turn 36 N into an "erotica museum" was shot down by the city and neighbors. The rowhouse itself lasted until 2005, getting demolished two years before its neighbors met the wrecking ball as well. The site, now owned by Akridge as part of its Half Street footprint, is directly across from Nationals Park (which I guess you could also call a swinging establishment!), where the Bullpen now provides a different brand of entertainment during baseball season.
As for the Playground's owner? It was Dennis Sobin, longtime city activist and current mayoral candidate. A profile of Sobin earlier this year by the Georgetown Voice gives a quick summary of his years in Washington, including his ownership of multiple strip clubs, adult bookstores, and brothels in the late 70s, a third-place finish in the 1982 mayor's race, and a 10-year prison term in Florida on child pornography charges. He currently runs the Prisons Foundation, devoted to prison artists and their work.
(And no, I had no idea that this little item would end up tied to current city politics when I started!)
Comments (2)
   
 
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Jay says: (7/19/10 9:13 AM)
As I have said before, it was a paradox that this site was not highly thought of when the Post was ranking the possible ballpark sites.

Maybe this helps explain it, its sordid past, if you will.


c says: (7/19/10 2:51 PM)
ah the good old days, all that old fun used to come cheap, now it's $7 for a Hebrew National and more if you want a beer

I just hope they recycled the brick at that old dive - psyche

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City Government Data for Near Southeast Records added or updated recently displayed here; click the "archive" links to see additional detail and older records. All data from DC Government databases and RSS feeds. JDLand takes no responsibility for errors, omissions, etc. (read CapStat disclaimer). Data is retrieved daily.

Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
300 B/O K ST SE   BURGLARY
Burglary Two
 01/13/18
1000 B/O 4TH ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 01/11/18
500 B/O M ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 01/09/18
900 B/O 4TH ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 01/07/18
100 B/O I ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 01/04/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 01/04/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Shoplifting
 01/02/18
UNIT B/O K ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Building)
 12/31/17
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 12/19/17

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1331 2ND ST SE   
12/22/17 
DC WATER / DAVE LEVINE
AH1800369 / CONSTRUCTION
After Hours work for structure excavation and support for B1311474 DC Water, Corman Construction 301-343-5417. TO EXCLUDE LEGAL HOLIDAYS.
1331 4TH ST SE CU   
12/27/17 
FC 1331 LLC / GARY BRENT; N/A
SG1800119 / CONSTRUCTION
Install 1 illuminated blade sign and 7 non-illuminated window vinyl signs - CHLOE BY HAIDAR KAROUM
   
12/28/17 
FC 1331 LLC / BEN BEDDO
TL1700205 / CONSTRUCTION
New Tenant Layout for restaurant
1300 4TH ST SE   
01/05/18 
FORREST CITY WASHINGTON / GEORGE ARTHUR KING
SB1800091 / CONSTRUCTION
To abandon 18 6 inch diameter 80 foot deep dewatering wells and 4 2 inch diameter 50 feet deep observation wells per the DOEE regulations
1346 4TH ST SE   
01/12/18 
ALAN OWINGS / ROBERT HENRY
AH1800415 / CONSTRUCTION
After Hours Permit for 1 / 15 / 18 from 7AM to 7PM to perform concrete operations, framing, operations, and utility operations.
411 I ST SE   
12/27/17 
ABIGAIL A SMITH / ROBERT D. JOHNSTON
E1802679 / SUPPLEMENTAL
337 L ST SE   
12/22/17 
JENNIFER LANCASTER / null
E1802602 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
01/11/18 
JENNIFER LANCASTER / BJORN FALK
SOL1800005 / CONSTRUCTION
Installation of a 3.6kW solar PV system. Roof Mounted, 10 panels
300 M ST SE STE# 400   
01/03/18 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / SAM HOLLEN
B1803531 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR RENOVATION TO 4TH FLOOR OFFICE CONFERENCE ROOM. PARTITIONS, CEILING, MECHANICAL, ELECTRICAL AND LIFE SAFETY. NO PLUMBING OR STRUCTURAL. 680 SQUARE FEET. CACI SUITE 400
25 POTOMAC AVE SE DOCK 79   
01/11/18 
RIVERFRONT HOLDINGS I LLC / null
P1802701 / SUPPLEMENTAL
227 TINGEY ST SE   
12/29/17 
JW CAPITAL PARTNERS / MELISSA DIAZ
FD1700126 / CONSTRUCTION
Parcel L1- Foundation to Grade permit for the new construction on an 11 story full service hotel building with restaurant and retail.
AH = After Hours; B = Alteration & Repair; D = Demolition; E = Electrical; FB = Boiler; M = Mechanical; P = Plumbing and Gas; PC = Post Card; R = Raze; SG = Sign; TL = Tenant Layout; TN = Tent; RW = Retaining Wall;

Real Property Sales Archive  
No commercial transaction records added or modified in the past two weeks.


Project Directory
Completed
District Winery ('17)
Insignia on M ('17)
F1rst/Residence Inn ('17)
One Hill South ('17)
Homewood Suites ('16)
ORE 82 ('16)
The Bixby ('16)
Dock 79 ('16)
Community Center ('16)
The Brig ('16)
Park Chelsea ('16)
Yards/Arris ('16)
Hampton Inn ('15)
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
11th St. Bridges ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Cap. ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)


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