Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Oct 25, 2012

The Going Out Gurus discussed concerts, happy hours, weekend getaways and other ideas for seasonal fun.

Welcome to our post-Howard Homecoming/pre-Halloween edition of Got Plans? We have questions about costumes, the Detroit Tigers and a bunch of birthday parties coming your ways, but first: If you had to give a newcomer one tip for celebrating Halloween in D.C. -- other than "trick-or-treating at embassies on Massachusetts Ave!" -- what would it be? We'll publish a selection of your best (and funniest) advice.

Hello, love the chats. I think this question is for one of the guys. I am having a first date Sunday afternoon and was thinking H Street Country Club. a place to get a drink and talk while we mini golf or play skeeball. It doesn't open til 4. Are there any other places that may be open earlier? DC or Virginia will work. On the metro even better since the marathon will be closing lots of streets. Thanks

Penn Social (8th and E) opens at noon, and offers more games than just about anywhere else in the area: Skee-Ball, shuffleboard, darts, pool, air hockey, foosball, pop-a-shot basketball, a three-foot-high Connect Four board, a Jenga set made of two-by-fours ... I think it's pretty much perfect for a first date. Lots of beer, plus TVs for your football games.

Bedrock Billiards is one of my favorites because it's smaller (and has a killer jukebox), and a ton of things to do, including Wii bowling.

I would tell someone to do a washington walks haunted walking tour. Great way to learn a little about your new city

Cool, thanks

Do I really look desperate at the bar alone? Should I go with a friend or not let anyone who doesn't want to hang out, ruin my evening? Arrgh!

No. No one looks desperate just because they've chosen to go to a bar alone. Now, if you become the person who gets drunk by themselves, or tries to butt in on conversations, then it might be a different story. But if you go to a bar, chat with the bartender and people next to you, and have a drink -- I mean, how is that wrong?

Dear Gurus, I did not see the Nightlife Agenda for this week. Was it not published for some reason, or am I an internet beginner? If the former, will you please please please assure us that it is a one-time/non-permanent thing? Thanks!

Nope, Nightlife Agenda was published as usual at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. (It might not have been featured on the Going Out Guide homepage this week.) You can always find it on the GOG Blog and the front of the Bars and Clubs section.

BTW, if you did read it, I hope you took our advice and went to see Titus Andronicus at Rock and Roll Hotel last night. Those boys are at the peak of their powers as a live act right now -- a 90-minute set of non-stop raditude.

You DO realize there's a hurricane heading this way, don't you?

Eh. It won't be here until early next week. Then hopefully there will be hurricane parties at bars, a la Hurricane Irene.

Hi gurus! Long time reader, first time submitter. Family is visiting this weekend, and I'm racking my brain trying to come up with a fun Saturday in the city appropriate for a 3 month old baby, a year old toddler, a 14 year old boy, an 80 year old grandma, and 5 30-something parents. Help?? Lunch and an afternoon activity close together would be ideal...

Around the White House this weekend are a number of family-friendly activities, including ghost tours at the Octagon House and mask-making at the Art Museum of the Americas. It's kid-friendly, but I feel like when there are toddlers around, folks want to be sure they're entertained first. Another thought is to hit a museum you haven't been to, something silly the older folks would enjoy ironically, and the kids would have fun with - first one that comes to mind is Madame Tussaud's (though the 14-year-old might like the Spy Museum). Then Id make reservations for the group at Carmines (Italian food) or if you're more adventurous, Jaleo (where there's lots of cool decor for the kids to go gaga over).

These questions always make me so sad! Go out where you want to go, hang out. Honest, the people around you are more likely to think it's cool and brave (because they are too self-conscious to do it) than to think you look desperate. Well, unless you get drunk and annoying.

Me too. I go out solo to bars a lot by necessity. And it's nice to have some alone time, and also to chat with the bartender or the people sitting next to me. I mean, obviously there are people who are out at bars alone because they DON'T want to talk to people (sometimes that's me) but plenty of folks are happy to engage in conversation with someone who's by themselves, and I don't think they'll judge you for it.

Can't overlook the Dupont Circle Halloween Drag Races!

Coming up this Tuesday. Hoping there will be a Binder Full of Drag Queens costume. (If most people try to do a Binder Full of Women costume, it will be lame. If some of the uber-creative ladies of the High Heel Race attempt it, it will probably be awesome.)

Where is a good place to go watch the Tigers play over the weekend where there will be other Tigers fans around? DC or VA is good.

Trusty's on Pennsylvania Ave. is a major Tiger hangout. Capitol Lounge gets its share, due to being a Michigan State bar. I wonder about the awesome Kangaroo Boxing Club, simply because it's a bona fide University of Michigan bar and all the owners are Michigan natives. 

Hey Gurus, thanks for taking my question! My little sister turns 22 on Monday and I am tasked with planning something for me and my boyfriend (ages 25), my sister and her boyfriend (also 22) to do. Anything fun happening on Monday that we just can't miss? Any amazing happy hours to hit up, and then some ideas for after dinner? I'm sure I could cobble some plans together, but I thought I would ask for Guru wisdom first. Thanks!

So, if this storm is dumping rain and a cold front on Washington on Monday as expected, it makes sense to think indoors. Monday looks a little thin on amazing events (hey, it's a Monday), but I might send you to happy hour at El Centro (On the rooftop, but it's somewhat covered), then over to Marvin for the Main Ingredient, one of the best Monday night parties in town, with lots of old-school hip-hop and fashionable people. If I could convince you to move your party to Saturday, I would totally direct you to U Street Music Hall's Bottle Service Nightmare -- it's a Halloween party where they're sticking sparklers in cans of Natty Boh and sending them out to you. If that doesn't scream "It's my 22nd birthday" I really don't know what will.

...but you've never steered me wrong before! ISO: a not-too-cramped bar for hanging out on my husband's (31st) birthday. We've done Meridian Pint, Bedrock Billiards, Atomic, Mellow Mushroom (our usual haunts). I'm thinking Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan. Only about 10 people or so, not a private party, just a new-ish place to have a fun Friday evening. This is November 9th, so not a particularly busy Friday, I think. I'm happy to go back to one of those, but have been hunting for someplace different. He loves his scotch, but we've done Bourbon already. Looking for Adams Morgan or C Heights since they're close to home. But hey, open to new ideas. Thanks, as always!

I would definitely consider Smoke and Barrel. But what you want to do is call and see if you can reserve a couple of tables downstairs in The Space That Used To Be Asylum. I've been a birthday party down there (a little larger than yours) and it was a lot of fun. It's also easier to move around down there than if you had it upstairs. 

Another option would be the upstairs at Bourbon -- they're open on Fridays, and usually not busy until late.

You won't look desperate...but you will look available. I mean just be prepared depending on if you do or don't want to meet someone.

This might be true, and it's definitely something to think about. I dunno. I don't assume every woman I see solo (or out with a group of girlfriends) is single, but maybe that's just me.

If the newcomers have kids, I'd tell them to skip trick or treating and take them to either Boo at the Zoo or Scare at the Air and Space Museum. Great kiddie events that are actually fun for the adults as well.

Two good options. I'd add that you need to start planning for Boo at the Zoo tickets the second they go onsale, because man, them Cleveland Park Moms are fast on the trigger for buying tickets.

Okay, you answered this question for the Detroit fans -- what about us misplaced SF-ites?

Our own Jess Righthand -- a former San Francisco resident and lifelong Giants fan -- just wrote a column for us about watching games at Town Tavern.

This is exactly what this woman doesn't want to hear. There is nothing desperate about this at all. When you're 25 you can't imagine going out alone and huddle in that tight circle with your girlfriends. Then people have kids, move, etc. Now at 35 I think it's totally cool, wouldn't give it a second thought if I saw someone alone at the bar. You are completely fine, don't even worry about what other people might think. You sitting there alone won't even register with most people.

Thank you. 

speaking of the drag race...what time should i get there to enjoy the festivities (but not have to stand around for hours)? i have din reservations right in the area for 7:30 - do you think that is cutting it too close?

I think that might be close. Around 7:30 is usually the sweet spot. Race is at 9, so crowds usually descend by 8 and it's impossible to get a space on the sidewalk by 8:30. If you want to enjoy seeing all the costumes, I aim for arriving in the 7:30-7:45 window.

Hi Gurus! I have two girlfriends (we're all in our 20's) in town this weekend and I'm looking for some ideas. I wanted to plan a small activity during the day on Saturday, doesn't necessarily have to be super touristy (both have been here many times) and we're not bent on doing anything Halloween-themed, but needs to be in DC proper and metro accessible. I also was hoping to take them to a nice brunch early on Sunday before they head back to their respective cities, but I'm wondering with the marathon if things are going to be crazy busy. Any ideas?

Why not a fun trip over to Eastern Market? I always swing my cool visitors there to shop for jewelry and art, sift through flea market purses and faux furs, and then stop at Market Lunch.  There's also cool show at The Fridge, and you can trek over to Hank's for lunch, and the Sweet Lobby is a "Cupcake Wars" winner for its mac-top -- a cupcake with a macaron on top. 

I wouldn't worry too much about the marathon imfringing on your brunch plans (so long as you stay away from Georgetown and the Mall). You might try one of our fave spots, The Bombay Club, which has live music, or better, the Gospel Brunch at the Hamilton, which is attracting lines literally around the block (get reservations in advance.

Our son wants the whole family to get dressed up for Halloween this year and do something. I have got the costumes, but not much of a plan on where to go this weekend. FWIW, our kids are preschoolers/school age. We aren't around on ACTUAL Halloween, so unfortunately, that option is out. :( Thanks!!!

Oh, you're lucky, there's a GREAT option. At Udvar Hazy Center on Saturday is Air and Scare, a great day of trick-or-treating and science talks and meeting with Star Wars characters. (Here's the Web site with activities.)

I'm new to being solo (widowed). I don't know what to wear. It's a bar in downtown with a private room, but a group I've not been part of before (new to town, too).

Hi, can you tell us a little more about which bar? That'll make a big difference in what we might suggest you wear. Also, is it a post-work type event, on a weekday? Or a Friday night or Saturday night?

Hey GOGs, love your chat! My friend and I would like to do a happy hour on Friday somewhere on the Hill (just to mix things up because we usually don't head down there). What's your best bet for a happy hour? We'd be getting there around 5:30-6:00, would like food specials/options as well, and preferably a place where we'd be able to get a seat! We're in our mid/late twenties so it would be nice to find something not very young (interns) or very old. (Submitting early in case I can't make the chat -- Thank you!)

For the political side of things, there's Capitol Lounge ($1 off everything til 7) and Tortilla Coast ($3.50 beers, $6 frozen margaritas, $4 snacks) . I'm also a fan of the new 201 Bar, formerly Lounge 201, which is more upscale than the others, and therefore less likely to be crowded with interns.

I'm tasked with finding the perfect location for a ladies night -- a much deserved post pregnancy and post election bender. Requirements included a place where 7 ladies in their early 30s can be a bit dressed up, dance (maybe some Madonna? am I pushing it!), and not feel too old or too young with the rest of the crowd. Extra points if there's a nearby restaurant for dinner and wine beforehand. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

You don't say when exactly this is, but you're going to want to keep an eye on the calendar for Becky or DJ Dredd's Madonna/Prince/Michael Jackson dance party. Becky (4th Friday of the month at the Rock and Roll Hotel) is all guilty-pleasure pop hits: Beyonce, Madonna, "Call Me Maybe," etc. Best Girls Night Out going. Dredd's long-running party, which happens at both the Hotel and the Howard Theatre, is just non-stop classic dance music. (When you're choosing from the collected discographies of those artists, how could it not be?) 

If you're going to the Rock and Roll Hotel, I'd steer you towards the Atlas Room or Boundary Road for dinner before; If it's at the Howard, then Dickson Wine Bar or Vinoteca would work for the pre-dancing gathering.

Would add Sonoma to the mix. They have happy hour specials and 2 people should be able to find a seat at the bar. It's not filled with interns.

Good call. They have $5 drinks until 6:30 during the week. I tend to write it off myself because it gets so crowded.

Looks like a lot of places are doing halloween nights on Saturday - do you all know of any places specifically NOT having a halloween party? preferably in Col Heights / U St / Shaw / 14th st areas? thanks!

I think you'd be safe heading to any place that skews a littler nicer/more mature -- the Brixton, Room 11, Meridian Pint come to mind. Dodge City will have its party on the 30th, soo. That said, I can't guarantee there will be no people in Big Bird costumes at any of these locations.

We finally found a sitter for our anniversary which we are celebrating Saturday night. What are the chances of seeing a jazz or blues band without bopping our heads among costumed folks? We will be dining downtown DC and would like to stay in the city. Thank you.

Pretty good, I'd say, if you head to Bohemian Caverns. Local trumpet powerhouse Kenny Rittenhouse -- a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra -- is leading his quartet in the downstairs Caverns space. He's doing two shows per night, depending on what time your dinner reservations are.

What (if there are any) are the rules of wearing linen? Can a tan blazer be worn after Labor Day??

I generally don't like rules (forecasts say blue and black together are not only okay, but cool this year!). So I say go for it, but I tend to save springy-looking fabrics and prints for sunny days, so they look less out of place. (Cloudy, dismal days = black or navy or oxblood.)

I do think a tan blazer with white or black t and black pants and some jewelry can be very chic. Just look around and get a sense of what other folks are wearing, for whether it's appropriate for work, etc.  

The Air and Space thing sounds awesome, cool suggestion. Any alternatives for my family on a Sunday though? We wouldn't be able to make it out on Saturday. We also have smaller children.

The National Symphony Orchestra has a Halloween-themed spooky concert on Sunday. (I'm giving you indoor options, because of the possible storm.) Unfortunately, I'm really struggling to find much more on Sunday, besides that, there's the Halloween pop-ups at the Building Museum. Good luck!

Okay, that does it for us today. Thanks for your comments and questions, and have a safe and happy Halloween. We'll see you next Thursday.

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The Going Out Gurus
The Going Out Gurus are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.
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