Pigtown’s Mobtown Ballroom Adds Liquor License, Plans Expansion

| July 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

mobtown5320Mobtown Ballroom has been open at 861 Washington Blvd. in Pigtown for almost three years and they have spent most of that time seeking approval to transfer a liquor license to their 4,000 sq. ft. dancing venue. Just last week, Mobtown Ballroom finally received their final zoning approval and they will now have a new bar by mid-August.

Mobtown Ballroom hosts social dancing nights; dance lessons in swing, Lindy Hop, belly dancing, aerial dance and solo jazz; and, jazz and swing bands. They were looking to add a liquor license for the enjoyment of their dance-enthused patrons, but faced two significant hurdles: they were within 300 feet of two churches, which is a forbidden location for new bars by Maryland law, and their building, a former Episcopal Church constructed in the 1870s, was zoned for residential use.

Mobtown Ballroom worked with Senator Bill Ferguson on the dilemma for two years and he was able to introduce new legislation during this year’s Maryland General Assembly regarding the issue. The passed bill said a bar can be within 300 feet of a church if the establishment had a letter of approval from the church.

Mobtown Ballroom was able to eventually get letters of approval from the two churches, as well as the Citizens of Pigtown, and purchase a liquor license in the area, which they transferred to their Washington Blvd. address. They also worked with Councilman Ed Reisinger to get the zoning of their building changed to commercial, allowing them to operate their liquor license at the property. The zoning change was approved this week and the bar – which will serve beer, wine and liquor – will be open for service soon after they pass a health inspection. The dance space will have a small bar and they are hoping to add an additional bar room in the back of the facility in the near future.

“With the really big crowds we receive, the ability to sell alcoholic beverages is a great asset for our customers and our business. It will allow us to generate the income to bring in some really great bands,” Michael Seguin, co-owner of Mobtown Ballroom, told SouthBMore.com.

Mobtown Ballroom is also hoping to add a 4,000 sq. ft. dedicated space for a teaching studio in the near future.

Ballroom picThe foundation for Mobtown Ballroom was started in 2005 when Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins, and Sommer Gentry, a mathematician at the Naval Academy, started Charm City Swing to grow the Baltimore social dancing scene. In 2010 they passed the group along to fellow dancers and teachers Seguin and Nina Gilkenson, who helped to find a permanent home for the group.

They were looking a large space without pillars and began zeroing in on former churches around the city. They eventually found a former Episcopalian church in Pigtown at the right price, which would become Mobtown Ballroom in September 2011. Mobtown Ballroom became one of the few places around the country with a dedicated space for social dancing.

Since opening, Mobtown Ballroom has attracted large crowds for dancing and lessons with many patrons coming not just from Baltimore, but consistently from the neighboring cities of Washington, DC and Philadelphia. There is dancing at Mobtown Ballroom every night of the week and they generate income for their for-profit business through cover charges. They have hosted popular bands such as the Bumper Jacksons, Hot Club of Baltimore, and the Boilermaker Jazz Band. For their three year anniversary party in October they are excited to bring in New Orleans-based Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns.

The venue is also available for weddings, parties, conferences and a wide array of events.

Almost three years in, Mobtown Ballroom is happy with their home and their ability to bring a lot of evening street traffic to a growing Pigtown Main Street. “There is some great stuff going on in Pigtown and the community is very supportive,” said Seguin.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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