There's something about a bachelorette party that's a little bit like high school. All of your girlfriends now have jobs, apartments, maybe even mortgages -- but somehow they revert back to shot-guzzling party chicks in honor of your upcoming nuptials. Because of this (tenuous) connection, I took that old high school yearbook treat -- the superlatives -- and gave it a local bachelorette twist. Read on for some of the best bachelorette party options around and add your suggestions in the comments field below.
Best Options for the Get-Wild Bachelorette: If there's one night to get crazy with your girlfriends, a bachelorette party is it. For my money, Adams Morgan's the best spot for girls who are looking to guzzle, giggle and find friendly strangers to buy them drinks. Tom Tom still reigns supreme as a bachelorette haven, but I've seen groups of girls surrounding veil-wearing to-be-weds at Adams Mill Bar, Chief Ike's, Mille and Al's and the Angry Inch. Are these the classiest establishments in the city? Absolutely not. But the low-maintenance party vibe can be good for a bachelorette shindig. Dress code isn't an issue; no one cares if you talk some frat boys into giving you their boxers; and you can shout out the words to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" without anyone batting an eyelash. Don't expect classy cocktails at these spots: rail vodka and cranberry may be your best bet.
Classiest Affair: Not all brides-to-be want to go the bite-the-lifesaver-off-my-t-shirt route, and that's when an upscale lounge with yummy cocktails comes in handy. Blue Gin, Fly Lounge, Modern, Indebleu: any of the city's lounges work for this type of affair, but for me, a night at Eighteenth Street Lounge is always a cut above. The cocktails are strong and delicious, and the outdoor patio in back is perfect for a summer night. As any D.C.-clubber knows, ESL bouncers enforce dress codes, so leave the veils at home and look your best.
Best Karaoke: For me, this one's a tie. Cafe Japone may have slow service and subpar sushi, but they do have bench tables long enough for all your friends and a song list that includes karaoke favorites like Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" and the played-out, but somewhat-obligatory Cindy Lauper tune, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."
If your girl's a little bit country, take her to Nick's Nightclub in Alexandria. The back bar's full of wannabe country singers and the friendliest military men you'll ever meet. The song list tilts toward Reba and Garth, but if you want to fit some Bon Jovi in there, no one will stop you. Most of the crowd gets up for line dancing between karaoke songs, so if you want to brush up on your two-step, show up at 7:30 for $5 line-dancing lessons.
Best Dancing: Line dancing's not for everyone, so for that multi-level, mega-club experience, you really can't beat a trip to Love. With its yummy cocktails and fun blend of hip-hop and 80s music, Play is a good mid-size option for bachelorettes looking to barhop in Dupont. Want to avoid the lounge scene? Bachelorettes often get their groove on at that downtown mainstay, Rumors.
Naughtiest Night Out: Strip clubs in the city that feature male dancers have pretty much disappeared since stadium construction got underway last year, but if you're willing to venture out to Camp Springs, Md., the Hangar Club serves up a male-dancing show on Friday and Saturday nights. The cover's $18 or $25 if you want stage-side seats. There is also a 2-drink minimum per person. Club staff requests that bachelorette parties call 301-449-6970 at least two weeks in advance to make reservations.
Naughtiest Night In: Michaela Brown's background may be in personal training, but the 26-year-old owner of the P Spot knows a thing or two about strip dancing. Groups of five to 10 girls can book a one- or two-hour session in Brown's Rhode Island Avenue studio, where she'll teach basic strip-tease moves or pole-dancing techniques. Fees for these sessions cost $10 to $20 per person, per hour. Feeling a little shy? Brown can bring her instruction to your home. A two-hour session costs $500 (plus the cost of travel) for strip-tease lessons and $600 (plus the cost of travel) for pole dancing. These private sessions work best with two to three people and can be arranged by calling 202-299-9604.
Dreamiest Day Spa Date: Kristen Page-Kirby, Express's spa expert, turned us on to Nusta Spa, an environmentally friendly downtown spa that can arrange private pampering for bachelorette groups. Girls set up shop in the spa's private room with food and drink (you can bring your own or Nusta Spa will arrange catering). The party organizer just has to supply the spa with a list of attendees and the treatments they'd like and the spa will make sure they have enough technicians on hand to accommodate. Prices vary depending on the services your group picks, but Nusta Spa can arrange for creative payment plans (i.e. each girl pays for herself and a portion of the bride-to-be's fees). "We've been having groups come in for their treatments late in the afternoon on a Saturday, shower and change and then go out to dinner from here," said owner Elizabeth Snowdon. The spa recommends calling to arrange your group visit several weeks in advance; a month's notice is preferred. Call 202-530-5700.
For the Fanciest Palate: The Curious Grape, a Shirlington wine shop, organizes in-home tasting events for the bride with a sophisticated palate. Over the course of the two-hour tasting, the wine consultant presents eight kinds of wine with a selection of cheese and chocolate pairings. For bridal celebrations, the shop can present wines from the bride and groom's favorite regions or the countries their families are from. According to events coordinator Jed Gray, tastings start at around $500 and even though they can accommodate up to 200 people, groups of less than 50 work best. Gray assures me that the presentations aren't all notes-of-oak and aged barrels. "People aren't as interested in some bah-humbug presentation, they want something lighter and more fun," he says. Marylanders, take note: Curious Grape can only provide tastings in Virginia and the District. Call 703-671-8700 or find more information on the Curious Grape Web site.
Bachelorettes in all three jurisdictions can take advantage of tastings organized by Kelly Magyarics Wine Consulting. Magyarics offers one-, one-and-a-half- and two-hour tasting sessions that start at $225 to $295 per hour and can accommodate 15 to 18 people. Bachelorettes often opt for a celebratory tastings featuring champagnes and sparkling wines, she says, but she also offers a more sentimental option. For a "Dream Destinations" package, Magyarics selects wines from regions the bride and groom have visited or want to visit some day. Call 703-203-WINE or visit trywine.net.
Haughtiest High Tea: Though it seems more fitting for an afternoon bridal shower than a bachelorette raunch-fest, some ladies have written into Got Plans? looking for a prim-and-proper afternoon tea. Erin laid out a bunch of options in this February blog post, and any one of them fits the bill for the cucumber-sandwich set.
So here are my top picks for that special Girls' Night Out, but at the end of the day, this is only one girl's opinion. Bachelorettes, bridesmaids and friends-of-the-bride out there, chime in below with your favorite bachelorette party ideas.
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