District Of Columbia
Washington District Of ColumbiaDC Bars Nightlife and Entertainment.
District of Columbia/Washington DC. The White House. The Capitol Dome. The Pentagon. Arlington National Cemetry. Washington DC is the political heart of the USA and the nation’s capital. Yet it is actually a relatively small city in comparison to others. A small city with an amazing number of clubs, bars, pubs and restaurants – whatever ‘scene’ you’re into, you’ll find it in DC.
The original 10 mile square of land that represented Washington DC was ceded by Maryland and Virginia back in the late 18th Century when it was agreed by the new republic that a permanent seat of Government was required. The area on the Potomac River was chosen because it was fairly central and would, therefore, keep both the north and south happy. Plus, George Washington’s home was just across the river in Mount Vernon. It was Benjamin Banneker, an African American mathematician, who was given the task of laying out DC, and ultimately the design, after Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French engineer, was fired.
Today the City covers 65 sq miles, ringed by the Beltway Freeway. Around 600,000 live in Washington City, while more than 5m live in the Washington Metropolitan area. The Capitol Dome is at the centre, from which the City is divided into four compass point quadrants: N Capitol St, E Capitol St, S Capitol St and the Mall. It’s important to know that because street names/numbers within each quadrant can be exactly the same so you need to know the directional part of the address. Streets are arranged on a grid system north-south, east-west, with diagonal avenues running through each way and traffic circles just to add to the complication of it all. Good luck if you’re driving! Stick to the Metro, it’s one of the world’s best.
Work started on the Capitol building in 1793 but was set on fire by British troops in 1814 and the City entered a depression from which it took years to recover – in fact it was almost abandoned at one point. Reconstruction of the Dome continued during the Civil War, though many thought it an extravagance, but Lincoln maintained that it was a sign to the people of the strength of the Union. After the war, of course, Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theater.
DCThe 20th Century saw a lot of work on DC to make it less of a ‘Southern backwater’. Landscaping, monuments (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial etc), parks and ultimately The Kennedy Center, brought a much needed cosmopolitan feel to the place. These, plus other attractions such as the Smithsonian Institution, the National Mall, Library of Congress , Chinatown, International Spy Museum, plus a thriving performing arts industry, have made Washington a major draw for visitors.
However, it is a city that has also suffered from more than its fair share of racial tensions, poverty and crime – indeed at one point during the late 20th Century, Washington was known as The Murder Capital. In 1999, with the election of Mayor Williams, the decline stopped and DC began to recover.
Until 9/11 that is. On that terrible day, exactly 60 years to the day after the groundbreaking ceremony, hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon killing all aboard as well as over 100 people within the Pentagon. The flight penetrated three of the five rings of the Pentagon but, because the affected area was under renovation at the time, several offices were unoccupied, sparing many lives. A second plane, also headed for DC, crashed in Pennsylvania while, as we all recall so vividly, two further hijacked planes destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, killing thousands of people.
Today, if you visit Washington, you’ll find that security is still high around the monuments, but the Pentagon is well on track with renovation, and visitor figures have recovered well. Tourists tend to head to the Capitol, the Northwest quadrant and the Mall, where most sights are located and, indeed, this is where you’ll find the best nightlife spots. Head for the Adams Morgan and U Street area for some great bars and live music such as the Rumba Cafe (Brazilian) and Habana Village (Cuban); Georgetown for classy clubs and bars such as Blue Gin and J Pauls; Connecticut Avenue in Dupont Circle for the best of the best, including the 18th Street Lounge club. Downtown is mostly a business area, but with some excellent bars, such as the Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant on 7th St NW, Polly Esther’s Retro Club and the Old Ebbit Grill). If you find yourself on Capitol Hill and thirsty, head for Hawk ‘n Dove on Pennsylvania Ave SE, The Red and Black Bar on H St NE or Bullfeathers on 1st St SE.
District Of Columbia FlagDC has a worldwide reputation for live music and greats such as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald regularly performed here in the past. It has also produced a good number of stars, including Marvin Gaye and Duke Ellington. Today established clubs such as Blue Alley (said to be the nation’s oldest supper jazz club) in Georgetown; the ESL Music in Dupont Circle; Madam’s Organ Blues Bar and Colubia Station in Adams Morgan; the KC Jazz Club at the Kennedy Center. The U Street NW area is buzzing with live music clubs, the best including the Bohemian Caverns and Twins jazz club, the 9.30 Club and the Black Cat. In fact U Street (aka Black Broadway) area has more than 25 bars, clubs and restaurants that feature jazz on a regular basis. The City also has its own music genre, known as go-go, the god father of whom was Chuck Brown.
‘Electronica’ music is big business here and you’ll find some of the best examples at the Eighteenth Street Lounge (Dupont Circle), Chi Cha Lounge (U Street), Local 16 (U St) and Gazuza (Dupont Circle).
Bar and pub choices are ad infinitum and range from the quaint and quirky to chic and classic. Apart from those already mentioned, regular favourites include the Black Rooster Pub on LStreet NW; the Brickseller on 22nd St NW (famous for its range of 1000 beers), the Dubliner Pub on North Capital Street NW and DC 9 on U Street. Bourbon in upper Georgetown is where whiskey aficionados go (you’ll find more than 50 on offer).
Seal Of DCDon’t bypass the hotels, because you’ll find some excellent bars here including the Helix Lounge at the Hotel Helix, the Sky Terrace at the Hotel Washington (brilliant views; the Bar Rouge at the boutique hotel of the same name;and Le Bar at the Sofitel Layfayette on 15th St NW.
Club wise, check out all the local hotspots at www.dcnites.com, www.bardc.com and www.washington.dc.nightguide.com, but you won’t go wrong with established favourites such as Nation on 1015 Half St SE, popular with all ages and races; Platinum on F Street for hip hop, trance and salsa; Bravo Bravo and Home on Connecticut Ave; Dream, Downtown, for salsa, rumba and all things latin; and Modern, a small underground club in Georgetown.
Smoking in DC is banned in bars, restaurants and other public places, although there are exemptions including for hotel rooms, cigar bars and hookah bars.
So, go enjoy a cigar at Ozio Martini & Cigar Lounge, 1813 M St NW (www.oziodc.com) ; Butlers the Cigar Bar at 1000 H St NW; or Shelly’s Back Room on 1331 F St NW (www.shellysdc.com) with our pleasure! Hookah bars include Alfishawy on Georgia Ave NW; Prince Cafe of Georgetown on Prospect St NW; and Queen’s Cafe on 18th St NW; as well as the Chi Cha Lounge and Gazuza, both mentioned above.