DC was on a winning streak in nightlife achievements prior to the pandemic—from declaring “go go” the city’s official music to releasing an economic study on nightlife. After a team attended RHI’s Sociable City Summit in Seattle in March 2020, they launched into action to coordinate meaningful relief for the hospitality industry. From proactive policy to better communication with nightlife businesses, DC agencies have stepped up to the plate to help the city’s severely impacted nighttime economy. In some ways, the pandemic forced lawmakers to re-imagine what’s possible in socializing, including take-out of alcohol and even permanent outdoor dining. While larger venues and live music venues were trending downward prior to the pandemic, there are opportunities for a reemergence. Shawn predicts that nightlife will not only rebound in DC, but all across the globe, coming back bigger and better than before.
Shawn Townsend was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture in Washington, D.C. Shawn served as a Supervisory Investigator at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), in Washington D.C., where he led a team of six investigators. Prior to becoming an investigator at ABRA in 2014, Mr. Townsend worked as an investigator at the DC Office of Police Complaints as well as at the District of Columbia Public Schools. Before joining DC Government, Mr. Townsend was instrumental in launching and managing a bar and lounge in Charleston, South Carolina; through this experience, he gained an inside knowledge of the nightlife industry.