Although certain D.C. hot spots will remain off-limits until your 21st birthday, that doesn’t mean your nightlife should suffer. Arts and entertainment culture is a major part of life in D.C., and there is a place to suit virtually every age and interest. So start your planning early by getting acquainted with the following crowds and locations:
For concert-lovers – D.C. is a breeding ground for movements that help to shape the face of modern music. While certain venues boast a legacy that attracts big-name artists, others are a lightning rod for dynamic local music. Keep yourself up-to-date on the wildly diverse acts that run through the city each week by checking concert listings in local papers and on the Web. Wear your liberty spikes, busted Converse or your mom’s pajamas; it doesn’t matter, as long as you come with your ears wide open and leave hearing nothing but a deafening ring. D.C. shows rake in myriad artists to gratify every music taste.
9:30 Club – 815 V St. N.W.
Black Cat – 1811 14th St. N.W.
Blues Alley – 1073 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
DAR Constitution Hall – 1776 D St. N.W.
Lisner Auditorium – 730 21st St. N.W.
MCI Center – 601 F St. N.W.
Nation – 1015 Half St. S.E.
Staccato Music Hall & Lounge – 2006 18th St. N.W.
Velvet Lounge – 915 U St. N.W.
For socialites – It seems like there’s never quite enough time to meet everyone at college. But that won’t stop you from trying. Throughout your freshman year, certain venues will become household names in GW’s mainstream social scene, often because they are sites for unofficial “GW nights” – parties thrown by frats, sororities and independent student promoters. But before heading out, make sure these bars are actually hosting an 18-and-over night. (Sometimes they are strictly 21-and-over.) You can expect to see these high-profile venues advertised quickly through word-of-mouth, mass e-mails and fliers circulating around the dorms. No need to get all decked out at most of these spots. The dress codes usually prohibit no more than tennis shoes or occasionally jeans. If your main objective is to go out, meet and mingle with other local students, these club venues are for you.
Daedalus – 1010 Vermont Ave. N.W.
Platinum – 915 F St. N.W.
Polly Esther’s – 605 12th St. N.W.
Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras – 1217 22nd St. N.W.
Sesto Senso – 1214 18th St. N.W.
Singapore Bistro – 1134 19th St. N.W.
Tequila Beach – 1115 F St. N.W.
Tequila Grill – 1990 K St. N.W.
The Third Edition – 1218 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Zanzibar – 700 Water St. S.W.
For resilient clubbers and party kids – Maybe it’s been a while since you got a lap dance from a butt-naked military man. Or perhaps you just want someone to offer you a Blow Pop and Bubblelicious gum the next time you exit a bathroom. Whether you’re looking for a spot with free exchanges of homosexuality or one that keeps a dance floor open until the sun comes up, those seeking a walk on the wild side should look no further to make their nightlife experiences complete. Your first year at college comes with full access to strip clubs, foam parties and 100 percent nocturnal entertainment. And for the first time, mom and dad aren’t around to say no. Predominantly featuring D.C.’s infamous electronic grooves, the following venues were made extra large to offer multiple indoor/outdoor settings for large crowds to crank or chill. Wear an outfit conducive to mobility, but don’t be surprised if you lose some of it by the end of the night.
Apex (Formerly Badlands) – 1415 22nd St. N.W.
Chaos – 1603 17th St. N.W.
Insomnia (Saturday nights at Club Glow) – 714 6th St. N.W.
Nation – 1015 Half St. S.E.
Wet – 52 L St. S.E.
For bon vivants -You’ve just moved to a vast mecca for lovers of the fine arts. Not only that, you’ve reached a unique point in your life where you have the opportunity to meet many others who share in your appreciations. Including musicals, operas, and classic and contemporary productions, D.C. houses and hosts some of the most important performance art companies in the world, often in particularly stunning accommodations. Before attending some of these venues, you may want to research the more budget-friendly shows and student discounts. Prices can literally range from free to several hundred dollars a ticket. And while you’re at it, investigate dress codes. While the smaller venues usually call for casual attire, larger companies may suggest you don more formal eveningwear.
Arena Stage -14th and T streets N.W.
DAR Constitution Hall – 1776 D St. N.W
D.C. Arts Center Theater – 2438 18th St. N.W.
Ford’s Theatre – 511 10th Street N.W.
H Street Playhouse – 1365 H St. N.E.
Kennedy Center – 2700 F St. N.W. (Home to the National Symphony Orchestra)
National Theatre – 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Studio Theatre – 1333 P St. N.W.
The Shakespeare Theatre – 450 Seventh St. N.W.
Warner Theatre – 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
-Maura Judkis contributed to this report.