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Police order Love, District's largest nightclub, temporarily closed after a stabbing

By Chris Richards and Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 4, 2010; C01

Love, Washington's largest nightclub, was shut down by police early New Year's Day after a non-fatal stabbing inside the four-story venue just off of New York Avenue NE.

Later that day, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier ordered the club to close its doors for 96 hours. The stabbing was the third violent incident at Love in a week, according to police officials.

"Whenever there is a weapon inside of a club I'm going to do an emergency closing," Lanier said. "The club managers are responsible for having adequate security inside the club. The bottom line is someone brought a knife or some kind of weapon inside that club."

The attack took place at about 1:30 a.m. in one of the club's stairwells. According to police officials, a man in his early 20s was stabbed and suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. Police are not sure what he was stabbed with and so far there have been no arrests.

Lanier added that the closure was to give the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and police officials a chance to review other complaints or potential violations that have occurred at the club in recent months and to review security measures on the premises.

City officials have become increasingly vigilant about shutting down clubs where violent incidents occur, but Love is by far the biggest one to be closed.

Lanier acted following a rash of violence at the club. According to police, a man suffered a skull fracture in an altercation with a bouncer on Dec. 26. And the following day a man at the club suffered a serious head injury.

A hearing to decide when Love can reopen is scheduled for Monday morning.

Club owner Marc Barnes posted a response Sunday evening on the Love Web site, saying, "I fully respect the chief's decision and adhere to her demand . . . our patrons' and community's safety is our number one priority."

The decision to shut down the club came on what could have been one of its most lucrative weekends of the year. It was forced to cancel a New Year's Day appearance by Drake and a Saturday concert by Nicki Minaj, two of the most buzzed-about rappers to emerge in 2009.

"It definitely hurts," says Makan Shirafkan, an attorney for Love. "The recession has taken a toll on the entertainment industry as a whole. Then you have the snow blizzard that came as a second punch. To be hit very heavy on New Year's Eve weekend was a third punch."

In 2005, the club was suffering similar challenges under its previous name, Dream. A spate of violence in and around the club partially motivated Barnes to re-brand the venue as Love.

Despite the club's tumultuous history, Shirafkan says this is the first time the venue has ever been closed under either name.

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