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One Last Swig of the Good Times At 'the Share'

Seth Thomas tops off Erica Lear's drink on Friday, the night Adams Morgan's Common Share bar closed its doors. In far right photo, J.T. Davis, left, and Traci Robinson help pack the house.
Seth Thomas tops off Erica Lear's drink on Friday, the night Adams Morgan's Common Share bar closed its doors. In far right photo, J.T. Davis, left, and Traci Robinson help pack the house. (Kevin Clark - The Washington Post)

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By Akeya Dickson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 3, 2007

Alexis Boateng, 26, stood in front of the Adams Morgan bar Common Share in quite the huff this weekend.

"I mean, who are these people?" she fumed. "They're not regulars. I've been coming here for years and all of a sudden they come out of nowhere for the last night."

It was 11 p.m. on Friday, and the line to get into the bar on 18th Street NW was winding down the block, almost to Florida Avenue.

Boateng was sort of right. The crowd was a mix of self-proclaimed regulars and former die-hard patrons who'd retired their bar-hopping days for jobs, families and early morning workouts. They came from as far away as Chicago, Boston and Oregon to lift bottles and glasses -- or plastic and Styrofoam cups as the night went on -- with onetime security guards and bartenders to pay homage to "the Share."

After nearly a decade, the place with the laid-back atmosphere and the $2 beers was closing its doors. This had been, more than one patron said Friday night, their own version of "Cheers" -- just without Norm and Cliff. What you could find, though, was an eclectic mix of folks, sporting everything from expertly crafted weaves and Tiffany jewels to 'locks, fitted caps and an assortment of tattoos and piercings.

"I was totally shocked when I saw all those people. I didn't expect it to be as packed as it was with a line out the door," said Boateng, a Howard University graduate who'd been frequenting the bar since 2001, during her undergraduate days.

People waited for about 30 minutes to squeeze into the tiny, narrow club where the temperature must have been 90 degrees. As a few people left, a few others were allowed in, and on it went throughout the night. The staff stopped counting after 500 people had hit the door.

Co-owner Christine Rhone, an energetic and diminutive 40-something from Jamaica, spent the evening shimmying, sharing drinks and chatting with customers. Occasionally eruptions of "We love the Common Share" ripped through the bar as she made her way through a sea of hugs and invariably a few tears.

Rhone and ex-girlfriend Raynette Sanders were the third owners to take over the Common Share when they bought it in October of 2003. The bar had been open since 1998 and was the original location for another Adams Morgan watering hole, Madam's Organ. The establishment changed hands, but never changed its name -- as if it had been community property.

"We were sort of thinking we were going to follow the lounge trend and have a whole art deco scene and show black-and-white movies," Rhone recalled. "But as soon as we came in here we felt the vibe and knew there was something here, it just needed to be managed."

So the pair painted the walls brick-red, got rid of the dirty jokes scrawled in the bathrooms and kept the $2 drinks.

What they also unwittingly did was change the spot from what one patron described as a frat with chicken wings on the floor to an unpretentious, black-owned bar that hosted Howard University nights on Thursdays and was a haven for indie folks of all stripes looking for an alternative to the dress-to-impress bourgie crowds that populated clubs such as Love, 1223 and Republic Gardens.

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