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Posted at 1:31 PM ET, 05/22/2006

Waiting to Fly? Expect Delays

By Fritz Hahn

When you enjoy going to clubs and lounges, velvet ropes become a fact of life. I've essentially given up trying to suck up to bouncers or figure out why they act as they do. What's more curious to me, though, are people who decide to stay in line even though the huge dudes on the door are too busy paying attention to their friends instead of the Average Joes waiting on the sidewalk. (Right now, I'm thinking of Chloe, where lines grow insanely long on weekends, even when it's obvious they're not moving.)

I know there are situations where you have no choice -- you're meeting people who are already inside, for example -- but too often, the question becomes how much of your time you're willing to invest in order to give a club owner your money. This happens to me quite a bit when I'm visiting clubs undercover, and while I have my reasons for being patient -- making a scene about how long you've been waiting can earn a black mark with most bouncers -- it's still really annoying.

Here's the latest occurance: Sometime after midnight on Saturday, I decided I wanted to go to Fly.

Yeah, I know I was breaking my own cardinal rule -- go early, especially on weekends -- but when I'd called the club a bit earlier to inquire about cover and dress code, the heartiness of the response ("none!") suggested it would be a good idea to swing by for a drink and to scope out the scene. The new airline-themed club that opened in the old Red space earlier this month is run by Chuck Koch, who as DJ Dirty Hands has held down residencies at the underground hip-hop spot Soul Camp, the more opulent Love, and he's also DJed at NBA All-Star Game afterparties in New York. From the photos I've seen, it's a pretty swank spot that has a curved ceiling resembling the fuselage of a passenger jet. Outside, the formerly unmarked facade is now streamlined and sports large video monitors that are supposed to look like airplane windows.

I arrived to find a clump of people standing around a velvet rope surrounding three sides of the doorway; there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for where to stand. When asked about the wait, bouncers said, "Oh, we're at capacity right now," which can mean many things: They really are at fire code capacity; the club is saving seats for people who've reserved tables; the bouncer doesn't like the look of you and hopes you'll go away if he makes you wait long enough, so he can select someone else. Still, it's a pretty fair assumption that most people skipping the rope didn't have table reservations if everyone who got past the bouncers were greeted with hugs (guys) or air kisses (women) and the question, "Who's with you?" or "How many you got?"

There were never massive crowds waiting around outside. People were either ushered quickly into the club by the suited guys behind the velvet ropes or left to cool their heels outside, and many in the latter group gave up after a few minutes of glares from the unresponsive doormen and headed elsewhere.

Meanwhile, we heard some pretty standard club fare blasting out of the stairwell. "Wait (The Whisper Song)," "Beware of the Boys," "Laffy Taffy." Anyone hoping Dirty Hands was striving to recreate the backpacker/b-boy aesthetic of Soul Camp is going to be sorely disappointed.

After 30 or 35 minutes of this -- I really did want to see the airplane fuselage in the main room -- we gave up and went to the nearby Science Club, where we found metal lab stools at the basement bar and ordered drinks. Not what I'd planned, but a good night nonetheless. Next time, I'm getting to Fly two hours before my scheduled flight.

Here are my questions for you: How long would you have waited? What's the longest you've ever stood outside of some new hotspot? What tips you off that you're not going to get in to the club anytime soon and you'd be better off going elsewhere?

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 22, 2006; 1:31 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Comments

Yeah some clubs (usually new ones) really are packed to capacity, but we all know that most arent. A hot girl walks up to the meathead bouncer and goes straight in.

A club is not worth it if you have to wait more than 5 minutes

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

This is the exact reason I don't go to "clubs" anymore. I'm too old (26) to put up with the pseudo-elitist crap.

Posted by: nfw | May 22, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I actually went to Fly on Saturday night around 11:45. I wasn't on "the list" so me and my company of 3 had to wait about 10-15mins. Which wasnt too bad, it was no charge to get in and no dress code. Drinks were average $14 which i thought were high, but since no cover-charge i guess they would make it up somewhere else. It is a small spot, music and crowd was very eclectic. You'd hear T.I., then some Boy's to Men "Mo-town Philly"...after that "Pour Some Sugar on Me". Not sure if it was just that day or the DJ, but it was great. Probably every 15mins there is a dry-ice jet stream that comes from the ceiling, that gives it a foggy look. Kinda cools off the small capacity. From what i was told tables are $1200, not sure it was true or not. But for that place not worth it, unless you have that coin. I would consider it a place you start off the night, then jump to something else.

Posted by: Antonio | May 22, 2006 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, I think I just heard a bouncer being fired.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2006 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I miss red...may have been a dungeon but was the true standard for dancing til 6am. I too went to fly sat night at 3am and was told they were closing. With the ridiculously long line at five and other 18th st hot spots, DC needs a venue like red...not some airplane-themed bar that chooses friends over interested patrons and closing shop to general public at 3.

Posted by: leigh | May 23, 2006 9:25 AM | Report abuse

My girlfriend and I only waited for about ten minutes before we got tired of waiting.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Red was pretty small to begin with, so there must be something magical about this place to have people waiting for that long to get in.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I was actually one of the folks last Saturday who tried to get into Fly. Had 5 attractive women with me. Of course, we arrived around 12:45, so I wasn't really surprised that getting in was near-on impossible. One of my friends asked the bouncer if he could let me and my "entourage" in, but the bouncer quite calmly said that only folks with reserved tables were being let in. So we went and drank somewhere else. Will try it out earlier in the evening next time.

Posted by: Beamtendave | May 24, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Can you review the Irish bar scene for me?

http://patrickjfitzgerald.blogspot.com

Posted by: Patrick J. Fitzgerald | May 24, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

When you heard "laffy taffy" that should have been your cue to leave.

Posted by: Phil of Playaz Ball | May 25, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Fly is definitely not all it's cracked up to be -- I went last weekend and (gasp) made it through the door...but only because I know one of the club's publicists. I wore designer jeans, a cute top and heels and STILL felt out of place because I wasn't decked out in the latest Gucci and Prada attire. The no cover charge/no dress code policy is very deceiving because the bouncers, from what I observed, are beyond picky about who they let in. Almost all drinks are $14 and there are a whopping 3 seats for those who haven't paid to reserve a table. This place is perfect for someone who is model-esque gorgeous and has a trust fund to blow, but I'd recommend that the rest of the population hit up another destination like Science Club or ESL.

Posted by: GloverParkGirl03 | May 25, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I love Fly. I know what you're saying about having to get their early, but I think that there is somehting to be said for that. The bar scene in DC has been lacking a club like Fly -- good music, good people, great drinks and it isn't a huge venue with sunglass wearing euro trash as far as the eye can see or like Play, for example, which just packs people in until you go home with randon stranger sweat all over you from trying to manuever through the shoulder to shoulder crowds. I go early with my girls and its worth the planning ahead. My favorite night is Thursday so far, not totally crowded...but enough to have you choice of dance partners and people watching. You should try agian, try coming early and bringing some girls.

Posted by: courtney | May 25, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

i mean, the place is small, just opened, and getting more hype (e.g. details mag, etc), than any other DC spot has in the last few years, do people expect to just walk in?

come on.

and re the post above, I went last Thursday and had a damn good time myself (went around 11, no line no wait). Dirty Hands was spinning his usual dope sounds. The party was moving. And there were pretty faces everywhere.

Posted by: freshdipt | May 25, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm grown (30). I don't wait around and beg for anyone to take my money. Last time I did that (for maybe 15-20 min) on my own accord was when Atlanta Live opened my senior year in college. I had to wait for 20 min at wack-a$$ H20 b/c a friend was having a bday party. BOO!! If its free and there's a DJ, performer I really want to see I'll wait for a while but I don't see waiting for much more than 20 min or so. Its just so ridiculous and pretentious and, unlike money, you can get wasted time back. There are too many interesting places to go and things to do in DC to engage such nonsense.

Posted by: NT | May 25, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I waited 20 minutes to go to 1223 on a WEDNESDAY. I know it's supposed to be a big night there, but the club was not even half full. The only reason I waited is because I was meeting friends inside, but it definitely makes me not want to go there again. Clubs that make you wait unnecessarily are usually pretty pretentious when you get inside, so it turns out not to be worth it. I'd rather go to a place where people are more interested in dancing than the fashion show.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 26, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I, along with a group of three girls, went to Fly last Saturday and had a fantastic time - one of the best nights out in D.C. in a while. I like the fact that the bouncers are selective in who gets in and who does not. I hate how in every other club in DC, women are pushed to the back and the loser of losers of men, move to the front and pay their way in.

The line at Fly reminds me of how lines at clubs in NY are. It's selective but do you really want to go to a club that everyone and their mother could get into?

In addition, the music was great! The DJ's were amazing and me and my girls danced all night. The ambiance was very cool - and Iloved the flight attendant outfits for the bar tenders. Very chic.

My only complaint was the size of the club - but that leads back to my earlier point about the lines. You must be selective in who you let into a club - esp. if space is limited. I do not want to party with a bunch of fat, sweaty, gross, baller-want-to-be, sunglass-wearing-in-the-dark LOSERS!!! (sorry if some of the people in the above posts who hated Fly, apply to any of the above).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

This post is exactly the reason why DC is not NYC, Miami, LA or any other cool American city to hang in. Fly is a good spot in DC, a little small, but good vibe from everyone there. Good looking crowd and a definitely tables are the way to go. If you are going to complain that table service folks get preferntial treatment don't go to a place like this vist the Lucky Bar or cram into a spot in Adams Morgan. The joke of this whole post is that the guy who is a "going out guru" can't get into a place. How can anyone who writes this blog about what is hot and what is not in DC be taken as credible when they can't get into a new place. This is what is wrong with this city... the self-proclaimed "going out gurus" can't even get into the "in" places in DC and then they complain. Perhaps they should take a look at themslevs and ask whey they aren't getting in.... especially if they are such experts on DC? How can their advice be taken seriously?

Posted by: salviedc | June 1, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

YOU ARE A GOING OUT GURU --- show your post media pass and cruis on in!

Posted by: stonecoldfox | June 1, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Um, maybe Fritz didn't flash his press pass because he wanted to see what it's like for the rest of us poor schmucks who don't have one. The point of his post is how folks feel about waiting to get into a club; it's not really a review of Fly. I appreciate that he's willing to go in undercover to get the real info, rather than threatening the bar with a bad review so he gets treated well.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I like how he did it without flashing credentials too. The people who really want to get in will get in. The rest of us now won't annoy the doorman by showing up late-ish and expecting to get right in. We'll just stay away like we apparently are being asked to do.

Posted by: mc | June 1, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

If Fly is the newest, hottest, on-the-scene spot in the metro area...why would ANYONE (except maybe the Bush twins) expect to get in with ease? You should have used some clout so we could have real dish on the ins and outs of the venue, instead of the regular joe blow run down about how easy it is to be ignored by the bouncer. Fly has the self life of about 3-6 months like every other new spot in the city, quickly REVIEW it, before everyone and their mother has been there.

Posted by: FLASH YOUR PASS | June 1, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I too went with two other friends and were subjected to wait for almost an hour before we left. The bouncers were rude and very racialy selective in who they let in. I'm sorry, this is not NYC, there are no celebs in D.C. just politicians and I can go to Capitol Hill to see them ANY TIME. Word of advice for those who want to get in - spot platinum blonde hair, pale skin, as much cleavage as you can without barring your nipples, a gravity defying mini skirt, and mile high stilettos - you'll definitely get in. Don't forget to give the skinny gay guy at the door kisses... on both cheeks! What a waste!

Posted by: Moni | June 6, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

First of all, who is dumb enough to think that a Washington Post writer could not get himself into this club? But he's a reporter trying to tell it how it is, not impress people because he can get into a flash-in-the-pan club. I remember going to a place like this in NYC back seven years ago called Idylwild. Same exact theme, waitress = flight attendant, bartender = captain, barback = baggage handler. The place was cool for all about 15 minutes.

I give this place 14, a minute for every dollar their drinks cost. Once the novelty wears off, so will the crowds. $14 is just an insult, even to a rich person. There is no value in paying that unless you are in NYC/LA/Miami surrounded my real models. Tourists won't even keep that place aloft. I think they need to rename it United 93. That's what they deserve by putting such a poser club on Red's sacred ground. I love it when places like this open, because all it all the city's trash in in one place for a few hours and out of my hair.

Keep it real Fritzy

Posted by: alex | June 8, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Luckily, I had no problem getting in because I was on list but I will never go back FLY. The crowd was strange, a very eclictic mix of people that didn't seem to mix well, expensive drinks, and nobody could dance for crap.

Posted by: I miss red. | July 28, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Its so funny to read the negative reviews from the people who cant even get through the door -- sucks to be you! Dont be mad because you didnt get there early enough. Anyone who lives in DC and goes out at all knows that timing your arrival is essential - lines get long and places fill up. And as far as drinks go, the hole in the wall bar on the corner charges a min. of $10 for a well-liquer martini -- for top shelf drinks $14 is pretty good. Its a small club but the great thing about it is its mixture of people. People from all walks mingling and singing outloud just having a great time!! Its the type of place where you could go casual or make a night out of it and never feel out of place. Every club in DC caters to a certain type of crowd - FLY is for the grown and sexy who want to go out without the "club chaos"; drink great drinks; chill to fun feel good music and see pretty people. Plus, even if the place fills it still stays cool because of the nitrogen fog (never sweat or be sweated on again!). Of course your going to hate it if you want to bump and grind, do body shots and take home some 20 year old with a fake i.d.
So, bottom line, dont hate it until you get there early enough to get in and enjoy it. Relax! FLY is an everyone type of place.

Posted by: Born to bring the haters down | August 5, 2006 8:20 PM | Report abuse

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