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Nightlife in the capital is rollicking and diverse. You can play bocce at Black Jack on 14th St. , head to U Street to dance your heart out at Marvin , take a turn at karaoke at Hill Country Barbecue  in the Penn Quarter, or settle in for top-notch jazz at Blues Alley  in Georgetown. Internationally renowned performing-arts venues like the Kennedy Center  host performances by top theater and dance companies, while smaller theaters such as Studio Theatre  stage bold new productions. Washington’s nightlife scene offers something for everyone.

The truth is that D.C. nightlife is not only vigorous but also competitive. One third of the city’s population is between 20 and 35; thanks to the capital’s strong economy, most people have jobs and are ready to party. And then there is everyone else, from Hill staffers to expense-account attorneys, many of whom seek entertainment after a long day at the desk. Whether you’re trying to score tickets to The Tempest at the Shakespeare Theatre  or nab a seat at the bar at hotspot The Observatory , success requires a get-there-first strategy.

The best neighborhoods for nightlife are Adams Morgan; the U & 14th streets NW crossroads (U St. between 16th and 9th sts., and 14th St. btw. P and V sts.); north and south of Dupont Circle along Connecticut Avenue; all over the Penn Quarter; Georgetown; the Atlas District; and Columbia Heights, an area east of Adams Morgan and north of the U Street district.

Most of D.C.’s clubs and bars stay open until 1 or 2am Monday through Thursday and until 3am Friday and Saturday; what time they open varies. It’s best to call ahead or check the website.

For current concert and club offerings, check the Washington Post’s online “Going Out Guide” (www.washingtonpost.com/gog), which covers all entertainment options, including nightlife, reported minute by minute, venue by venue, by the paper’s “going out gurus.” If you’re here on a weekend, try to pick up a copy of the Post’s Friday “Weekend” section. Washington City Paper, available free at restaurants, bookstores, and other places around town, and online at www.washingtoncitypaper.com, is another excellent resource.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.