The Interns' Guide: Nightclubs

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By Fritz Hahn Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 12, 2007; 12:28 PM

At most Washington clubs, the cover charge starts around $5 if the evening's entertainment includes a DJ, while $10 can be the minimum at your better lounges. Admission can go as high as $40 if you're a high roller who needs to skip the line at Love on a Friday night. But you don't have to be famous or well connected to waltz into nightclubs without paying, occasionally enjoying an open bar and complimentary food. The key is having an e-mail account.

Every week, promoters send out thousands of invitations to their events at clubs like Love, Fur, H2O, Platinum and Juste Lounge. If you're on their list, gaining free admission and other benefits is as easy as printing an invitation or filling out a form on a Web site.

Here are a few of our favorites that have proved reliable over time. Just watch the clock, and when in doubt, arrive early. If a promoter's site says "Guest list ends at 11," it really does end at 11, even if you're next in line at the door.

Absolute Addiction: offers free admission and drink specials at MCCXXIII on Fridays and Ultrabar on Saturdays, as long as the site's "members" arrive by midnight. Thursday's Ladies' Night at Play Lounge offers women free drinks until midnight. Wednesday nights at Lotus Lounge are good for admission only.

H2O: Fill out a form on for guest-list spots at the club on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as shots at a free buffet and open bar for early arrivals.

Jetset Mafia: Promoting events at Fly, Play, Lotus, Indebleu and other upscale lounges, Jetset Mafia's passes usually don't include free drinks or special benefits, but they're good for skipping lines and getting your foot in the door. See to sign up.

Juste Lounge/Cafe Peju: Juste Lounge has relocated and is now sharing space with a restaurant called Cafe Peju, but the entertainment is as strong as ever: The Bethesda nightspot has live reggae and soca on Wednesdays, salsa dancing on Thursday, soul and R&B groups on Fridays and a mix of African, Caribbean and hip-hop DJs on Saturday. A pass from is good for two free drinks at happy hour on Friday (5-8) and Saturday (9-10) and free admission before 11.

Love: Love owner Marc Barnes handles his club's promotions on Friday nights, and the hip-hop-flavored events feature performances by celebrities like Pharrell, Beyonce, the Roots or Ice Cube. You can buy tickets from Ticketmaster for $10 to $20, or you can print out a pass from and arrive early (before 9) to take advantage of free admission. The club's Web site also has passes for Thursday's 18-and-over college night and Saturday's international night. (Be aware that some concerts and special events don't offer free passes, so you'll have to pay the cover or stay home.) These promoters run events for a predominantly African American clientele. Recent e-mail coupons have been good for an open bar and free buffet at kstreet Lounge on Wednesdays and Avenue on Fridays. Both events also feature a DJ and dancing late into the night. Mad Power Unit also hosts a party at the new Lotus Lounge on Tuesdays, though there are no real benefits.

Panorama Productions: Another veteran promotions team, Panorama handles events at Fur, Lima, MCCXXIII and Ultrabar, and parties at the latter two include open-bar happy hours as well as DJs. Tuesday and Thursday parties are open to everyone 18 and over. Get passes and information at

Platinum: Notable for allowing clubbers between the ages of 18 and 21 with few hassles, Platinum's Web site,, allows you to sign up for a guest list that guarantees free admission before 11 on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. (All women enter free before midnight on Fridays.)

Sound like too much trouble? There are dance nights with no cover. One of the most popular is the long-running salsa night at Lucky Bar on Mondays, which offers a free hour-long lesson at 8, followed by a night of dancing.

Eleventh Street Lounge's speakeasy-like basement has benches, room to dance and DJs on weekends. Just go past the bathrooms and look for the unmarked stairs.

Metropolitain, the popular champagne lounge under the French bistro Napoleon, pumps to house and disco beats Thursday through Saturday, and leather couches make for classy lounging.

Even when bands have taken over the stage at the Rock and Roll Hotel, its upstairs bar -- complete with the "hotel rooms" that give the place its name -- has no cover. DJs get crowds dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. Unlike the concert hall, though, the second floor is 21-and-over at all times.

Tiny Selam is hidden in plain sight on U Street, but you'll be glad you stumbled onto it when you hear the DJs spinning house, '80s hip-hop, retro grooves and party jams Thursday through Saturday. The drinks are inexpensive, too.

DJs spinning retro hits and danceable rock are the draw at Tom Tom, a crowded two-level club on Adams Morgan's main strip. (When you need a break, head upstairs and try to grab a couch.)

The Wonderland Ballroom attracts crowds Tuesday to Saturday for electro, rare grooves, hip-hop, funk and more; there are seats as well as a roomy dance floor upstairs and an outdoor beer garden for smokers.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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