The Washington Post
College-friendly nightlife in the District photo
(Barcode by Astrid Riecken)

College-friendly nightlife in the District

Fritz Hahn  |  Updated 10/18/2012

Attention, college students: You can enjoy Washington's nightlife if you're under the age of 21 as long as you know where to go.

The hottest nightspots routinely deny entry to anyone not of legal drinking age because managers are afraid that one bad apple buying a beer could mean the loss of the establishment's liquor license. But that's not the case everywhere. With college back in session, some bars and clubs are welcoming students with parties tailored to those younger than 21 in the Washington area.



Washington, DC

Barcode, a sleek lounge at 17th and L streets NW, recently launched #BarcodeTuesdays, which is open to everyone at least 18 years old. Even though the event is targeted at those who can't legally drink, there are a number of drink specials, including $3 beers. Most of the people on a recent night were wearing wristbands signaling they could order cocktails at the marble bar.

Owner Antonis Karagounis says the event is more of a general college night. He estimates that on Tuesdays, 70 percent of the crowd is older than 21 and points to couples "where one is 21 and one is 20" or groups of college students a few years apart in age.

If you want to hang out with friends somewhere besides the dance floor at a huge nightclub, Barcode is one of your better options. The hookah-friendly patio tables offer a quiet place to catch up.


Busboys and Poets

+ Multiple Locations

The local chain's four locations welcome customers younger than 21 for open-mike poetry nights, music performances, author readings and, this month, presidential debate viewings.


U Street Music Hall

Washington, DC

This subterranean club has a reputation for attracting top-notch electronic DJs, and it hosts concerts in conjunction with the 9:30 Club and the Black Cat. Live music events are all-ages, and DJ nights are open to anyone 18 or older. If you're 18 to 20 years old and you want to see a DJ on Friday or Saturday night, however, you'll need to buy tickets in advance. The club sells tickets at the door for those shows only to patrons 21 and older.



Washington, DC

In addition to #BarcodeTuesdays, Panorama Productions promotes 18-and-older Glow events at the massive new Echostage club in Northeast. DJs Tiesto, Dirty South and Ferry Corsten will perform there in the next two months.


Midtown Lounge

Washington, DC

Known for its dress code, bottle service and partiers dancing on couches until 3 a.m., the Connecticut Avenue lounge and nightclub Midtown is not a college bar. But it does have a college night and some specials designed to be friendly to students' wallets.

On Thursdays, Midtown's College Night offers free admission and an open bar on beer and rail drinks from 10 to 11 p.m. for everyone 21 and older. Thursday is the only night Midtown is open to the underage crowd, and that free admission deal still applies (although the booze obviously doesn't). Sorority groups can call ahead to make reservations for free admission before 11:45 p.m. plus free champagne. DJs spin top-40 and club hits until 2 a.m.

Friday nights are an even better deal. Midtown and veteran event planners Lindy Promotions team up for Free Beer Fridays. From 9 to 10 p.m., bartenders hand out free Blue Moon and Coors Light in the third-floor Midtown Loft. There's no cover charge or need to sign up on a guest list: Just show up and you can drink for free.

Want to keep partying on the cheap? Pay $25 in advance at openredbar.event for Open Bar Fridays, which allows unlimited drinks from 10 p.m. to3 a.m. The extended open bar is valid only at the VIP bar on the third floor, so if your friends want to dance to the DJs downstairs, you'll be climbing a flight of stairs every time your glass is empty.


McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon

Washington, DC

One of D.C.'s biggest college bars seven nights a week, McFadden's gets especially college-friendly on Tuesdays. Show a college ID and you can get $1 cans of beer, $2 drafts and $5 bomb specials all night.



Washington, DC

Run by a former owner of College Park's defunct Thirsty Turtle, this party spot has more cut-rate specials than any Adams Morgan bar. Thirsty Thursday offers all-you-can-drink beer and rail drinks from 10 p.m. until last call. For that, men pay $12, women pay $10 and couples can drink for $20. Friday's Triple Power Hour has an open bar from 9 to 11 p.m. for $10 per person and then $1 beers and rail drinks until midnight.


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