city reviews, nightlife

Dirty Bar and an Intro to DC Nightlife

When people outside the city think of DC nightlife they often conjure up images of snooty political hacks in black suits and ambitious lawyers in cocktails dresses sipping on over priced drinks and discussing the latest political hoopla in the capital city. While this is certainly something you can find in DC, most people don’t realize that DC nightlife is some of the best in the country.

Dirty Bar is a prime example. While by no means the best DC has to offer, it stands out as so different from the DC stereotypes that I think it will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. Dirty Bar has a happy hour. Every Friday. From 11-Midnight. Its actually an open bar. And its completely and entirely free. That’s right every Friday night, with a pre- “purchased” ticket (free you just have to get it before Friday), you can go to a bar in DC and drink for free.

And this isn’t just any bar. It has a cage where any girl is welcome to show off her dance skills, a swing (more for photo ops than actually swinging), and outdoor patio, and a couple of live DJ’s!

Of course, if you don’t like this bar there are tons of other options in every imaginable genre of night life!

For example, the gay scene. DC has a vibrant gay community and with it an incredible gay friendly night life environment. One of my favorite clubs anywhere is Town which is probably DC’s largest gay club with a weekly drag show, great electro-style DJ’s, monthly themed parties and photo shoots, and an outdoor patios with heat lamps! This is a no fucks given club where taking off your shirt is encouraged, straight people welcome, dancing on the stages (when there aren’t go-go dancers) a must, and delicious inexpensive drinks ($6 and up).

If you want a huge Vegas style club with top world renowned DJ’s spinning their latest mixes, often till 4 in the morning, check out my favorite club in the US, Echostage. Echostage is huge (3,500 capacity I believe), with two full length bars downstairs on the main dance floor and two smaller ones upstairs. Upstairs is a full horseshoe shaped, huge, VIP balcony overlooking the incredible main dance floor. The light shows, water shows, and lasers add to the incredible performances of world class DJ’s like Steve Aoki, Galantis, 3lau, Tiesto, and Hardwell.

Other favorite spots of mine:

Marvin’s, a two floor bar turned dance room on weekends with a large patio off U st.

Brixton, I call this the see and be seen bar of U st with lines down the alley way, but still can be a lot of fun, 3 floors, whiskey bar themed

Flash, also on U st, Deep house all the way, 3 floors with open air 3rd floor in the summer, main dance floor has unique and incredible light and sound system

Ultrabar, can be a bit of a bro crowd but with 4 dance floors and and incredible amount of musical variety it can be a lot of fun too

Public Bar, across from Dirty Bar, this bar is a boring sports bar much of the time but can liven up on the weekends with DJ’s and remixes

Soundcheck, a basement club opened by the same people who run Echostage, this is the club to go to for off night clubbing, think Sunday and Wednesday night (I’ve been to sold out shows with a wait list down the road on a Wednesday here)

9:30 Club, less of a club and more of a concert venue, good place to see amazing bands that are bigger than local but can’t quite pack an arena

What I like so much about DC, is that its is manageable without being boring or limited. NYC is not manageable. Certainly not boring, but it is completely overwhelming especially if you are not from there. DC on the other hand, never runs out of new options, but you can also quickly find favorites, walk out of one bar and be a $6 Uber from the next, and not feel overwhelmed by the number of clubs to pick from. Also compare to much of the country, DC drinking laws are quite relaxed. Sure you can’t go all night like Miami or Vegas, but most clubs stay open and serve till close to 4 am on the weekends. And there is something for everyone. Whatever your scene is, DC probably has at least one place (if not many) to cater to your weekend revelries.


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