BAR BELLE: ‘I Swear I’m not Married’

Front Page
1333 New Hampshire Ave, NW
Getting in: Carded at the door
Dress: Business casual to barely care
Cover: None

“So what time do you want to go out? Eleven, 11:30?” I asked, making Thursday plans.

“I have to be in bed by 12. Let’s go at eight.” That’s the demand of my friend who, having graduated GW last semester, now works on Capitol Hill.

Dear God. Is this what I have to look forward to? Graduating to a world where Thursday bedtime is in the double digits and there are two 8 o’clocks in the day, p.m. AND a.m.? I better booze it up while I can.

“10:30,” I suggest.

“9:45,” she counters, obviously forgetting one of the top ten rules of Thursday bar hopping in college. Late classes prevent necessary down time between a busy day and a busy night, making it necessary to push back game time at least an hour and a half behind a normal weekend schedule.

But I’m accommodating, so I compromise. All the while thinking, “who in their right mind is out at 10 p.m. on a Thursday night?”

My question was quickly answered as soon as I pushed past the bouncer on the way into The Front Page last Thursday – everyone else who just graduated college and works in D.C.

The yuppies were pretty sauced by the time I rolled up to the bar, making me crave a drink on the walk to the back bar.

The Front Page is a fine eating establishment during the day (good shrimp) and if you enter through the restaurant entrance on the New Hampshire Avenue side you encounter a front bar frequented by the over-30 crowd.

Run before you are tempted by free drinks from sketchy guys carefully trying to hide their wedding bands, run quickly. Next time enter through the lobby of the Robert S. Strauss Building, the adjacent entrance.

This sprint will take you through a mahogany arched hallway cutting through an array of linen-napkined tables that do not look like they were made for the drunks that now occupy them. The walls are tastefully decorated with famous newspaper front pages (ohh, now I get it . Front Page), like the day Kennedy was shot or Clinton was impeached.

Finally you get to the “mini bar,” as I like to call it. It’s actually just a little Coors stand with one bartender and a load of beer behind it. I think its for those who can’t quite make it all the way through the crowd without stopping for a drink. That’s me. So I saunter up (note: it is hard to saunter while being pushed and jabbed at all angles by a crowd, but I think I pull it off well) and order my drinks. It is now that I realize why I was so hell-bent on coming to this place anyway, the $10 Corona buckets.

I just love the idea of beer in a bucket. There’s something Billy-Madisonesque about it, like I could feed it to a donkey if I wanted to. Problem with getting your own bucket means carrying it. So I pushed my way to the far corner, threw the bucket on the bar and parked myself on a stool.

Dancing picked up as barflies grinded to J Lo and Bon Jovi on a dance floor that is actually smaller than my bathroom, one big negative to the place. The other is the three-mile trek you have to make to the bathrooms from the dance floor or back bar, through the restaurant, down the stairs and around a corner.

More college kids showed up and I recognized some friendly faces.But don’t get me wrong, Front Page on Thursdays is still the type of place where anyone you bring home will say “whoa, its weird to be back in a dorm,” while you pretend it’s an apartment and try and ignore the white boards on every door.

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