If you’re looking for a tuneful night on the town, Washington offers everything from hip jazz clubs to DJ-driven dance halls—both places where you sit back and listen and places where you can get up and rock out. Here are some of the best live-music venues.
Many nightspots wear multiple hats. For example, the Black Cat is a bar and a dance club, offering food and sometimes poetry readings. I've listed each nightspot according to the type of music it features. The details are in the description.
The best nightlife districts are Adams Morgan; the U and 14th streets NW crossroads: U Street between 16th and 9th streets and 14th Street between P and V streets; north and south of Dupont Circle along Connecticut Avenue; the Penn Quarter, notably 7th and 8th streets and from Pennsylvania Avenue north as far as I Street; Georgetown; the area known as the Atlas District, which is H Street NE, between 12th and 14th streets; and Columbia Heights, an area east of Adams Morgan and north of the U Street district. As a rule, while club-hopping -- even in Georgetown -- stick to the major thoroughfares and steer clear of deserted side streets. I should add that you should be especially careful in Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, where criminals sometimes prey upon drunk and otherwise distracted partiers as they leave bars and clubs.
Check out the monthly On Tap, another freebie found mostly in bars, but whose website, www.ontaponline.com, is essential reading for carefree 20-somethings. By the way, Thursday night is "College Night" at nearly every club.
Most of Washington'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 to make sure the place you're headed is open.
In addition to these two comedy venues, the Warner Theatre and Harmon Hall at the Shakespeare Theatre also occasionally feature big-name comedians or troupes.
Jazz and Blues
If you’re a jazz fan and are planning a trip to D.C. in early to mid-June, check out www.dcjazzfest.org for exact dates of the fabulous, week-long DC Jazz Festival, which showcases the talents of at least 100 musicians in various venues around town, including free blowout concerts on the National Mall. And if you’re a jazz or blues fan and you’re coming to town at some other time of the year, check out the following venues.
Dupont Circle is the gay and lesbian hub of Washington, D.C., with at least 10 gay or lesbian bars within easy walking distance of one another. Here are two from that neighborhood, plus another with two locations, the original on Capitol Hill and the second—you guessed it—in Dupont Circle.
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.