Since the closing of Bachelor’s Mill (The Mill) in 2021, there hasn’t been a Black-owned LGBTQ+ lounge in the nation’s capitol. That all changed when Brandon Burke and Shaun Mykals and opened Thurst Lounge. Located north of Washington, D.C.’s U Street corridor at 2204 14th St NW, Burke and Mykals and created a safe haven for the Black LGBTQ+ community where authenticity reigns supreme.
Burke and Mykals’ vision was a long time coming. The duo started their nightlife journey with the nationally known event, Thursday Bliss: An Open Mic Experience. After Thursday Bliss‘ 11-year run, Burke and Mykals took what they’ve learned to create a space centered around the Black queer experience, but open to all.
INTO chatted with Burke and Mykals about diversifying representation in nightlife and what the perfect night out needs.
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With Thurst Lounge now opened as the only Black-owned LGBTQ+ lounge in Washington, D.C., what comes to mind when you reflect on the journey to get here?
BB: Patience, dedication, and staying committed to our goal were the keys to us getting to this point, [and] thinking outside the box to find solutions to problems and roadblocks we faced, [while] tapping into resources within our network for mentorship and advice on how to navigate the start-up process.
SM: Immense gratitude. I’m so grateful that we have been so well received by our community. It’s overwhelming In the best way.
What’s one misconception people have about working in nightlife?
BB: That it is glamorous and fun. It’s a lot of long hours and sleepless nights and a lot of time spent working on things, even when we are not open.
SM: I’m not sure what the misconceptions are, but people should know that it takes a village. I couldn’t imagine doing this alone.
What’s your idea of a perfect night out in Washington, D.C.?
BB: Meet up with friends for dinner at a restaurant, then head to Thurst Lounge for drinks, more conversation, and when it gets late, a little turn up.
SM: THURST LOUNGE! A great atmosphere, beautiful people, good drinks, and good food!
Before a night out at Thurst Lounge, what should be the go-to pregame song?
BB: I’m really feeling [Nicki Minaj’s] new song “Everybody.” It’s like the perfect hype song and we want everybody to come out and have a great time.
SM: “Sensational” by Chris Brown.
What do you think queer nightlife needs more of now?
BB: We need more spaces that represent the diversity of our lived experiences. I hope Thurst is just the beginning of that coming to fruition.
SM: Variety and safe spaces for all in the queer Community.
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