Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

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  
1000 B/O HALF ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/24/20
1200 B/O VAN ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/23/20
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 05/20/20
1100 B/O I ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/19/20
1100 B/O 1ST ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/19/20
1200 B/O HALF ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/17/20
100 B/O M ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/15/20
1200 B/O 4TH ST SE   ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON  05/12/20
300 B/O WATER ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 05/07/20
100 B/O H ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Building)
 05/03/20
100 B/O L ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 05/03/20
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 04/28/20
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft First Degree (theft From Building)
 04/24/20

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1300 4TH ST SE RU-1   
05/14/20 
AP BOWER RETAIL LLC / null
P2006042 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1300 4TH ST SE   
05/08/20 
null / ;
P2005886 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
05/15/20 
null / ;
P2006066 / SUPPLEMENTAL
929 5TH ST SE   
05/18/20 
CHRISTOPHER D FRENCH / CHRIS FRENCH; HERCULES FENCE OF MARYLAND, LLC HERCULES FENCE OF
F2000461 / CONSTRUCTION
1. Removal and replacement of front metal fence and gate in kind.  2. Removal and partial relocation of existing 6' tall wood fence in rear patio. The fence is currently approx. 30" inside the rear property line, and we intend to move the fence to our rear property line. The work includes removal of existing wood gate that opens from neighbor's property to our property along shared property line ...
300 M ST SE 4TH FL   
05/05/20 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / ;
P2005798 / SUPPLEMENTAL
250 M ST SE   
04/29/20 
SQUARE 769 LLC / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN2001825 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 3 New Elevators - 3500Lbs @ 350FPM - Elevators 1 - 2 and 4
   
04/29/20 
SQUARE 769 LLC / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN2001826 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 4000Lb @ 350FPM - Elevator 3
   
04/29/20 
SQUARE 769 LLC / BRIAN C STROTT; NA
TL2000026 / CONSTRUCTION
9 story 173,125 GSF tenant improvement fit out.
   
04/29/20 
SQUARE 769 LLC / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN2001827 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 2 New Elevators - 3500LB @ 200FPM - Elevators 5-6
300 M ST SE   
04/30/20 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / SAM HOLLEN; TBD
B2006591 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR RENOVATION TO 5TH FLOOR OFFICE SPACE. PARTITIONS, FURNITURE, MEP AND LIFE SAFETY. NO STRUCTURAL. 4499 SQUARE FEET. NTT DATA.
   
05/01/20 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / null
E2007254 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
05/14/20 
AMENTUM / null
E2007609 / SUPPLEMENTAL
111 N ST SE   
05/07/20 
BROOKFIELD PROPERTIES / MAHMOUD KHACHAN; NA
SB2000288 / CONSTRUCTION
Drill temporary eight soil borings to a depth of 80 each at the existing parking lot at 111 N Street SE, Washington DC. The diameter of the borings is 6 inches. The borings will be grouted upon completion in accordance with DCRA requirements as indicated in the work plan.
1111 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
05/12/20 
GALLERY CAPITOL RIVERFRONT PROPERTY LLC / null
E2007563 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1275 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
05/06/20 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / JUSTIN BELLOW; NA
B1913803 / CONSTRUCTION
PARCEL G PROJECT CONSISTS OF A NEW 12 STORY OFFICE BUILDING WITH STREET LEVEL RETAIL AND 2 LEVELS OF BELOW GRADE PARKING. 2 LEVEL PARKING APPROVED UNDER FOUNDATION TO GRADE FD1900047 & SHEETING AND SHORING SH1900050
   
05/19/20 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / null
M2002480 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
05/19/20 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / null
P2006118 / SUPPLEMENTAL
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
Thompson Hotel ('20)
West Half ('19)
Novel South Capitol ('19)
Yards/Guild Apts. ('19)
Capper/The Harlow ('19)
New DC Water HQ ('19)
Yards/Bower Condos ('19)
Virginia Ave. Tunnel ('19)
99 M ('18)
Agora ('18)
1221 Van ('18)
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)
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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)
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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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