People used to say that “nightlife in DC” is a paradoxon, two concepts that just don’t go together. Like Enron and honesty. Or Republicans and medicare. It just doesn’t sound right if you put them together. However, unlike the other two cases, nightlife in DC actually exists. To be honest though, some of the clubs, especially around Dupont Circle or Adam’s Morgan are somewhat tacky and have always reminded me a little of the Alla in Maastricht. To quote one of my lovely housemates: “The Alla is the place where you make mistakes” (HT to A.A.). Maybe it had to do with the fact that we often only got there quite late, but the crowd in most of the establishments seemed to consist largely of semi-desperate left-behinds, that were afraid of having to go home alone. (Again, the Alla-atmosphere seems omnipresent).
However, nightlife in DC is not a wholly lost cause. Adam’s Morgan is in fact a really cool area, once you learned how to navigate it. One of my favorite bars for example is right there, in the middle of AdMo, called Madam’s Organ, a popular hang-out for all kinds of people where party-crashers, office workers, off-duty officers, students, interns, and other ordinary folks go to listen to live-music and enjoy some good time with their friends. Despite the fact that I love that place (or maybe because of it), a note of caution might be appropriate here: Madam’s Organ is not your regular corner pub. Being the self-proclaimed place where “the beautiful people go to get ugly” and so many curious artefacts on the walls that open-mouthed stares and fingerpointing have become socially accepted, the bar has become a center-piece of the Adam’s Morgan area and the symbol of the AdMo-lifestyle.
Alternatively, if stuffed animals and canny, insightful jokes about life aren’t your thing, you could go to Lima Louge in downtown DC. Yes, you read correctly: downtown. I admit that most of the area from downtown to Foggy Bottom gets pretty deserted after the 9-5 folks left their offices at the IMF, the Worldbank and various U.S. Government departments (apart of course of the GWU-part and currently the stretch of K Street that is covered by OccupyDC). But moving a few blocks to the east, there actually is some nightlife going on. Okay, they still show CNN’s Anderson Cooper with AC 360 on the screens, so you can dance to Lady Gaga or LMFAO and still get the latest from the campaign trail or the U.S. budget crisis. So, unless of course, these are exactly the things you tried to escape from, the Lima is a good place to go (for the real get-away, you could try the real Lima, though. That should work. Although I’m quite sure Michele Bachmann’s squeaky voice will reach you even there). Some of the girls there seemed to confuse the dress-code “be classy” with “be slutty” and hadn’t realized that the two styles are distinguished by a few square inches of fabric in the right place. But overall, with less of the “desparate left-behinds” that I mentioned earlier, the Lima Lounge has a much better atmosphere than the other clubs.