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“That’s when you start to see much more pressure placed by police and by city officials to regulate the activities,” said Jim Peters, of the Responsible Hospitality Institute, which advises businesses and governments on the nightlife industry. “Cities are not as interested in allowing these large venues to be open.”

Not just in D.C.

According to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, 48 nightclubs are licensed to operate in the District. The number of megaclubs is far fewer. Of the clubs currently licensed, only Ibiza, Lux Lounge in Northwest, and Echostage in Northeast — which functions like a concert hall rather than a nightclub — are approved for capacities of 1,000 people or larger.

The District isn’t the only place where clubs are disappearing.

Last month marked the closure of the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, which had a capacity of 3,200 people.

Operators announced this month that Guvernment, a 22,000-square-foot nightclub in Toronto, would be closed because the building housing it had been sold. The closing is part of a “dramatic decline in the number of clubs in our area due to high land value and redevelopment,” said Janice Solomon, executive director of the Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area.

“The megaclub scene is kind of gone,” said Los Angeles nightlife impresario turned urban planner Elizabeth Peterson, remarking on the changing tastes of young revelers.

She said young adults, like those who flooded into the District during the economic recession in pursuit of high-paying jobs tied to the federal government, are now seeking more intimate space such as restaurants or small lounges where they can interact on a personal level.

“They are very educated on the hazards of cigarettes, very organic. They want good food and the best liquor,” said Ms. Peterson, who ran nightclubs in Los Angeles from 1978 until she sold her last club, Bordello, in 2008. “They are very cognizant of their time and what they want.”

But J.C. Diaz, executive director of the Nightlife & Club Industry Association of America, was quicker to attribute the closings to ebbs and flows that are to be expected in the fleeting and at times fickle nightlife industry.

“Everybody has to evolve to stick in this industry,” he said. “The average life span of a club is usually two to five years. They renovate or they change names.”

A successful model?

Not all believe the era of the megaclub has passed.

Large clubs have proliferated in Brooklyn — where industrial space could still be scooped up — in recent years. And markets like Las Vegas and Atlantic City have been able to draw large crowds to megaclubs attached to high-end hotels by booking big-name DJs in the electronic dance music scene.

“The resurgence of the giant nightclub is ready for the taking,” said D.C.-based promoter Molly Ruland, president of One Love Massive. “There are 150 people a day moving into the city.”

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