With 33 washers, 24 dryers and six beers on tap, Dirty Dungarees Laundromat and Bar is calm during the day. Customers often trickle in to order a drink, play one of the several arcade games set up on one end of the laundry area or rest at the counter.
At night, it looks about the same, but sounds different. Instead of the swooshing of the Speed Queen top-loader washing machines and the scraping metal of that one pesky dryer, the sound of guitar riffs and cymbal crashes resonates throughout the building.
As its name suggests, Dirty Dungarees is a place where patrons can wash their clothes while they grab a brew. Over the years, it has also become a hub for the underground music scene near campus.
Dirty Dungarees on North High Street near Hudson Street opened in 1978 and used to be one of several chain locations. It has since outlasted the others, primarily because of its location in Old North Columbus, a neighborhood that houses people of varying economic statuses, owner Drew Sherrick said.
Sherrick said he co-owned another laundromat in Grove City, Ohio, with his father before moving to Columbus, Ohio, where he bought Dirty Dungarees in 2015. He said the goal was never for Dirty Dungarees to be recognized as a music venue, but it has morphed into a musical mainstay.
“So I guess I was wrong, and we are actually a venue now, but I felt like we were just dipping a toe in it, and now, bam, all of a sudden we’re a real venue,” Sherrick said.
Jules Jeffers, a fourth-year in arts management and guitarist and vocalist in local punk band Wasp Factory, said the group’s first show at Dirty Dungarees in August 2019 was a surprisingly pleasant experience.
“That was a show that I really liked because I kind of got really in tune to like, ‘Oh yeah, the atmosphere here is a lot more friendly,’ like it doesn’t feel like I have to work to integrate myself into this scene or this group of people. I feel like I can just kind of be here,” Jeffers said.
That first gig at the venue showed her why she — and all of the other regulars — keeps coming back, Jeffers said.
“Every time I’ve been there, the thing that’s made it hasn’t been the space. It’s been the people, because very consistently, the people that book there do a really good job of integrating themselves into the scene and being really, really approachable and accepting of anyone that wants to play a show there,” Jeffers said.
The camaraderie and diversity of the concertgoers is the reason Jeffers said Dirty Dungarees is one of the best venues in the city.
“I for sure have met more other queer and trans people there than anywhere else in Columbus,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers said Ohio State students would enjoy Dirty Dungarees — if only more were aware it existed and was just a bus ride away.
Wasp Factory will play alongside “psycho punk” band DANA — one of whose members bartends at Dirty Dungarees — and Atlanta glam-punk sextet Material Girls at Dirty Dungarees Saturday, a lineup that is standard for Dirty Dungarees shows: a few local groups and one or two out-of-towners.
But the performances at Dirty Dungarees can transcend a typical concert.
“People surprise me,” Sherrick said. “We’ve had all sorts of interesting performance art, poetry readings — more than just music, but it’s always interesting.
Dirty Dungarees is located at 2586 N. High St. and is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Sherrick said shows start around 7 p.m. and end by 10 p.m. He said there is no cover charge for entry, but there is a recommended $5 donation.