While planning out itineraries for commencement week, graduating seniors will typically show family members the G-rated version of their lives, but even parents need a break from nonstop visits to the Smithsonian and walks along the reflecting pool.
Seniors, please remember that after the third time of viewing the Lincoln Memorial, sober, the statue is simply a large marble man sitting down. So for a change of pace from basically doing the “National Treasure” walking tour, take your parents on the most sacred D.C. college experience — club hopping.
The Hatchet planned a night out for you and your family that will either bring you all closer together than ever or make your parents regret letting you come to the gritty big city. This outing will not be for the faint of heart, though, and likely in the wise words of Amy Poehler in “Mean Girls,” isn’t meant for regular moms, only “cool moms” — and dads.
Start the night off at a slower pace by taking them to Residents Cafe & Bar, a festively decorated eatery with blooming cherry blossoms dangling from the ceiling, nestled in the heart of Dupont Circle and conveniently located between several nightclubs. Ease your relatives into the party mood with one of their specialty cocktails, perhaps an espresso martini ($17) to help the older folks caffeinate for a long night of drinking festivities.
Their dinner menu has a mix of elevated classic American staples like the dry-aged beef burger ($19) as well as a fusion of Mediterranean, Italian and French offerings. Consider splitting a few smaller bites like the snackable mini gyros ($14) or the spring pea croquettes ($11), which will settle their stomach before the night of drinking ahead.
Once the whole family is in high spirits, the night can truly begin. Head over to the Mayflower Club located at 1223 Connecticut Ave. NW, a combined lounge and restaurant with a storied past as a speakeasy that GW alum Antonis Karagounis reopened in 2021. Lovingly named after Zachariah “Zebbie” Goldsmith, who opened the Mayflower Club in 1933 and was arrested during Prohibition, the club’s main attraction, Zebbie’s Garden, is located on the third floor of the building.
Zebbie’s Garden has disco balls and cherry blossoms cascading over a faux grass dance floor, where your parents can dance or snap pictures that will make their Facebook friends jealous. Open Thursday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday through Saturday 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., the club offers a variety of musical performances rotating on a weekly basis.
If your parents are still feeling good and thriving after the first two locations and feel prepared for their #onlyatGW experience, return to the holy grail for freshmen who were too nervous to invest in a fake ID — Decades. Located next door to the Mayflower Club, this six-floor throwback-themed establishment might as well be a G-PAC requirement because so many GW students begin their college careers there.
Let your parents choose their own adventure and experiment until they discover for themselves which Decades floor matches their vibe, just as you once did. They’ll likely gravitate toward one of the floors spinning ‘80s staples, so don’t be shocked if they insist on throwing down to some oldies. Or, reveal your inner club rat to them and point them toward your favorite floor and recount your horror stories in Decades.
If the throngs of underclassmen moshing prove to be too much for your loved ones to keep up with, head over to Mad Hatter DC, whose youthful “Alice In Wonderland” decorations like psychedelic portraits of the Cheshire Cat contrast with its older demographic.
From Thursday to Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., their in-house DJ spins everything from ’80s classics to top 40 hits, so bring the parents along for an epic night of mash-ups and dancing. Let loose on the dance floor underneath an enormous metallic top hat and then quench your thirst together at the bar with their signature Hatter’s “Turquoise Rum Punch” ($40) served in, you guessed it, a glass top hat.
After all that dancing, your hangry parents will be desperate for some late-night bites. Luckily Surfside Dupont, a boardwalk-style taco stand filled to the brim with comfort food and refreshing beverages, is open 24 hours a day and is a short walk away. Gorge on chips and pineapple mango salsa while your parents dish on their favorite parts of the night. Who knows — you might even awaken the party animal that’s been in hibernation all these years.
This article appeared in the May 15, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.