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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 05/23/2008

Interns' Guide: Get on the Guestlist

By Fritz Hahn

Why pay to get into Play Lounge when you get sign up for free admission and an open bar? (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

"I'm on the list." Those four words are magic on the nightlife scene. They can be the key to waltzing past lines outside clubs, avoiding double-digit cover charges and informing bouncers -- and the other poor schmucks waiting to get in -- that you're somebody important.

At least that's how it works sometimes.

See more in our Interns' Guide.

In the Internet age, it's easier than ever to secure a spot on the guest list at nightclubs and lounges. The city's largest promoters -- whose job it is to get bodies through the door -- all have Web sites where prospective patrons can trade their name and e-mail address for access to popular clubs. And while making an online reservation probably won't help you walk straight into the VIP room, it usually gets you in for free, meaning you have more cash to buy a drink -- and sometimes you'll even score an hour or two of open bar.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you set out to dominate the scene:

Don't Turn Into a Pumpkin. Most of these deals are good until a certain time, usually 11 p.m or midnight. You need to make it to the front of the line before this time. If your RSVP expires at midnight and you're three people back at 11:59, the bouncer might just decide to make you fork over the regular $20 cover. Getting in free may necessitate leaving the house a few minutes earlier than you're used to. Whether that's worth it is up to you.

Dress to Impress. Unless noted otherwise, most of these lounges and clubs have dress codes that frown on caps, sneakers, even flip-flops. Check the promoter's or venue's Web site to more details, but when in doubt, dress up, not down.

Watch Your Wallet. Sure, you may not be paying anything to get in, but you'll mitigate those savings with a couple of $11 gin and tonics. Pay special attention to places like Ultrabar and Avenue that sometimes offer all-night drink specials in addition to free admission and/or an open bar.

Shift Your Schedule. The hottest nightspots in the city, like Josephine and Tattoo, have walls of people outside their front doors on Saturday nights, all of whom are willing to drop hundreds of dollars on tables or just $20 to get through the door. Why on Earth would they give away admission? For a free glimpse inside Washington's upscale lounges, be willing to party on school nights. Tattoo draws crowds on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Josephine's Thursday nights are less packed (and therefore more comfortable) than Saturdays, and the music's just as good.

Drop Names. Some promoters have special guest lists or lines for their customers. When you get to the club, politely ask the bouncer, "Excuse me, I'm on the [fill in the blank] list. Is this the right line?" Mention the name of the promoter to the person taking money at the door. They probably have several lists, and they'll be glad for you to help speed them along.

Nightclub promoters come and go in Washington, and many have tenuous relationships with the places where they throw parties, but the ones listed below have been around the block and have proved useful and reliable in the past.
Targeting an international lounge crowd, Absolute Addiction offers free admission to Lima (Thursday), Fly Lounge (Friday) and Ultrabar (Saturday). The latter includes an open bar from 9:30 to 10:30.
Panorama Productions is one of D.C.'s longest-running promotions groups, and its current roster of parties includes Tuesday at Lima (18-and-over, $3 beers all night), Wednesday at Lima, Thursday through Saturday at Ultrabar (Thursday is 18-and-over, Friday and Saturday include open bar; all three nights include all-night drink specials), and Saturday at Ibiza, where 18-and-over Glow draws some of the world's biggest trance, house and techno DJs.
Relatively new on the D.C. Scene, D.C. Club Host offers free admission to Ibiza on Thursday and Friday and to H2O on Friday. Note that the pass for Thursday's 18-and-over night at Ibiza only offers reduced -- not free -- admission for everyone under 21.
Promoter Eric Lund has your ticket into Tattoo on Thursday, Josephine on Friday and Indebleu on Saturday.
Jamie Hess has run events at some pretty nice lounges over the years; he currently offers a guest list for Tattoo on Tuesday, Josephine on Thursday and Play on Friday. All RSVPs expire at midnight.
Upscale lounges are the Jet Set Mafia's forte: Tuesday at Fly, Wednesday at Tattoo, Thursday at Josephine, Friday at Indebleu, Saturday at MCCXXIII. Note that you'll have to print out a piece of paper and bring it with you -- your name won't be on a physical list at the door.
Getting passes for Love, D.C.'s biggest nightclub, is a convoluted affair: Click on a link on the Web site, send an e-mail with your full name to the address that pops up in a new window, then print out a flyer good for free admission when it shows up in your inbox.
Mad Power Unit's events offer some of the city's best deals -- Tuesday through Friday, there's a party with a free dinner buffet and at least two hours of premium open bar. Flirt (Wednesday at kstreet Lounge) and Opium (Friday at Avenue) are the most popular. Print a pass from the Web site, or sign up to get codes for free admission sent to your cell phone.
Michael Romeo, the owner of D.C. nightspots Fur, Lotus and Tattoo, has some links for free passes and specials scattered around his Web site -- check out this link to get into Lotus free -- but no central location for such offers.
Focusing on weekend events, the Nightlife Agency represents Thursday at Play, Friday at MCCXXIII and Saturday at Lotus and Fur, as well as special events. Play and Fur are both 18-and-over events.
Primo Productions offers a mix of Latino and American beats at its events, from the salsa lessons with open bar for women (Monday at Lima) through Tropico Saturdays (reggae, hip-hop and Latin with an hour of open bar at Avenue on Saturday). Other weekly destinations include Wednesday at Eyebar (open bar for women, 10-11), Thursday at Indebleu and Friday at Ultrabar.
Mike Walker's e-mail list includes invitations to Flirt, the famous Wednesday night happy hour with an open bar and dinner buffet, Thursday at Pure, Saturday at H2O and Sunday at kstreet.

-- Fritz Hahn

By Fritz Hahn  | May 23, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Interns' Guide  
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i'm surprised that for such a detailed spin on this city's "nightlife scene"***, that you completely omitted any mention of the absurd racial segregation that many of these promoters -- and by extension, through this entry, the washpost -- are complicit in furthering

code words used by promoters listed here like "international" and "urban" mean - respectively - "white" and "black" ... and the little hatless and well-shod sheep that follow these walking ego trips around from club to club make sure they color within the lines

this is a great recap, but by encouraging these promoters without at least mentioning the racial dynamics at play you're essentially encouraging the stupidity

*** or at least the bridge-and-tunnel scene for anybody who wants to avoid the "hipster" crowds (read, not wearing shiny button-downs and waiting in hour-long lines) at comparatively unfussy places like DC9, black cat, R&R hotel, etc

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

hi guys. i second dc9, blackcat, velvet... for interns though the crowds maybe a little old and not that glossy scene they came to a big city to see. none the less, i must say i love these u street places with all my heart. dc 9's liberation dance party (although sparsely attended some nights) plays AMAZING music. bring your friends, forget you work in some shwank law office (of the XXX and XXX fame), or the congressman's office you work in, and dance your arse off.

Posted by: k street lover | May 26, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse


my adult beverage drinking hero,

do you have a review of 'fly'

Posted by: ballston dude | June 2, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

the first comment is dead-on.

Posted by: ha | June 5, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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