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Got Plans?

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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, March 1, 2007; 1:00 PM

Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, washingtonpost.com's City Guide experts share their best bets for local flavor, great dates and family fun. Got plans? Great. Need plans? Just ask. We have the skinny on the bars and clubs, concerts, kitchens, theaters and special events that keep life interesting. We're going out gurus, and we're at your service.

Of course, we're happy to answer questions about local entertainment, but we need to hear from you, too. Introduce us to the coolest DJ or the fastest bartender you've encountered. Sound off on the week's best concert or the city's best burger. Tell us about the best place to amuse little kids or a big art fan. Together we can plan fun ways to spend weekdays, weekends, dates and holidays. The pleasure is ours, and yours.

Each week a different guru will act as host or hostess, but the entire staff is at your service. If you're looking for more ideas, see the City Guide or read transcripts of past Got Plans? discussions.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: What's up, D.C.? It's time for your weekly installment of Got Plans? We're a skeleton crew today. Right now, we've got Erin, Janet, David, Anne and me (Julia) ready to take your questions. Fritz is feeling a bit under the weather, but he may join us as the hour goes on. Let the questions begin....

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Arlington, Va.: Where can I buy some nice but not too expensive silk flowers?

Janet: I have to say that, even though they are becoming more popular, I hate fake flowers. So, I don't have a clue where you can buy any.

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Washington, D.C.: Looking for a happy hour near the west end of the mall, where a small group of 10 or so can grab a reasonably priced bite and have some not-having-to-shout conversation. Any recommendations near 14th ST?

Erin: For something a bit on the upscale side, Butterfield 9 offers bar bites with wine pairings until 7:30. Yuca fries with Riesling, anyone? I also think Old Ebbitt's oysters are well worth the walk. You could also consider Les Halles.

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Alexandria, Va.: Big HELLO to the Gurus! I'm looking for something entertaining to do with my girl tonight. I tried Dave and Busters last night but traffic stopped us short. We'll save that for Saturday. I need something more local so the traffic doesn't completely take the wind out of our sails. We're not big on the heavy drinking and smoky bars but we do enjoy a few drinks. Billiards and Bowling has been played out. Any suggestions for an post-6:30 activity place, good comedy, lounge, etc...? Thanks!

Julia: Our girl Lavanya Ramanathan at the newspaper just wrote about a hot new comedy spot today. Maybe that could be what you're looking for. The PX is in your neck of the woods and it's really pricey, but as far as interesting lounges go, that's a good bet for a drink or two.
In my humble opinion, Dave and Busters can be fun for an occasional happy hour -- I'm a skee-ball addict -- but it's kind of over-priced for it to become a regular thing. Unless you're really into DDR. And if you are, more power to ya.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you guys know of any bar, etc. that might be showing the Cricket World Cup this month? I know there's a small audience in this area that might be interested.

Fritz: Solly's will be showing all the games and, better yet, they may even have some on tape delay for those of y'all who can't cut out of work early.

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Bethesda, Md.: I took my 3 step-dancing daughters to see Lord of the Dance at the Warner Theater last week. With service and "convenience" fees, each ticket cost over $80. For that amount of money I think you should be provided with, if not a playbill, a least a sheet of paper listing the numbers and the primary dancers in each.

Also, while the dancing was spectacular, it as also taped, loud and pulsing, with strobe lights, more like a rock concert. At one point my youngest daughter started to cry. This was my fault for not having investigated thoroughly -- a big fault when your total expenditures (including lunch and parking) came to over $350. I thought it would be more like Riverdance, which we saw at Wolf Trap last June. Be warned! And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Erin: Man, that sounds traumatic. I hope that your poor daughter can overcome her tears and go back to dancing. I saw Lord in Vegas a few years ago and was underwhelmed to the point of sleep during one of the mellow flute interludes. Sounds like they've really rocked it up since then.

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St. Patrick's Day: Love the chats! I know this is early, but what are some good Irish bars in the area to spend St. Patrick's Day at? Are there any special events/festivals going on? Thanks!!

Fritz: There are no good Irish bars to go to on St. Patrick's Day, because they're all overcrowded, expensive, noisy shadows of their 363-other-days-of-the-year selves.
The biggest "event" going on is the Mid-Atlantic Shamrock Fest, which is turning from a Ballston block party to something closer to the HFStival at RFK -- only with local cover bands, Flogging Molly and a carnival midway area.

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Washington, D.C.: I feel uncool having to ask, but what is the etiquette for a gallery opening (if any)? I received a card in the mail from a gallery in Logan Circle, where I live, announcing their upcoming show and the opening reception this Saturday. I am assuming that anyone can attend if the gallery is sending out the announcements, right? If so, what would a girl wear -- would jeans and a nice top/blazer be ok? I'd like to go, but I'm clueless (and a bit shy). Thanks!

Julia: Jeans and a nice top will be totally fine! I'd say the vibe is hip-casual, emphasis on the hip. You'll definitely see people who looked like they just rolled out of bed (i.e. me at the last Logan opening), but for the most part, people will be dressed in funky, casual clothes.
Anyone is welcome to attend the openings, so feel free to bring your friends. Don't know which of the several openings you're attending on Saturday, but definitely check out Tug of War at Hemphill. You're likely to see a bunch of people milling around the building at 1515 14th Street and the other galleries in the area (Irvine, Plan B, etc), so just wander and have fun!

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Arlington, Va.: HI GOGs -- great chat! I waste time at work every week reading it! Live in NOVA and I'm looking to make cooking a serious hobby but, I'd like take some cooking classes. Do you have any suggestions of places in the area that offer beginner cooking classes? I know about Sur la Table, but I'm looking for other suggestions, too. Thanks!

Erin: Do you feel that reading our chat is wasteful? We're deeply wounded. You should definitely read through the Post Food section's cooking class list. It's a comprehensive guide to cooking by cuisine and will definitely have things that appeal to you. If you're looking for a 1-time stint, I'd highly recommend Roberto Donna's classes taught out of Bebo. These classes taught by the local pros are easy enough for beginners, but teach dishes that are impressive enough to serve at parties ... I would assume. I'm not brave enough to host parties where I serve food made by me, at least not yet. Maybe I should look into more cooking classes, too.

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"Under the weather": A couple of aspirin and plenty of fluids - and maybe some greasy food - and he'll be right.

Fritz: No, seriously, I have a cold I can't shake, and it's putting a damper on going out. I mean, I had to stay on my couch and watch Maryland beat up on Duke last night. I couldn't go out and ignite anything. Such a shame.

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Birthday plans in A-ton dilemma: Submitting early lest I forget!

Planned a meet-up at Galaxy Hut Sat. night for about 10-15 people. I'm worried that it might be too much of a squeeze, but I love the hut and only want to move the party if you think it will be an absolute nightmare to keep it there! thoughts?

Thanks!

David: Honestly, could be a bit tight, especially since it's a Saturday night and there's live music, so there might be one or two fewer tables, which makes a big difference in there. Your best bet might be to show up on the earlier side and try to take over the corner with the video games and that pinball machine that really hates me. And since there is music, it'll cost everyone $5 starting around 9:30 and then it might get a bit loud. Pretty decent bands, though, the Safes are rather catchy.

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Arbre de Vie products: Not really sure if this fits with you GoGs, but has anyone tried one of the Arbre de Vie products that were featured in the Making It portion of Sunday Source a few weeks ago? I was thinking of trying one since they claim it helps clear up eczema, but they're a bit expensive with my newbie job budget. Or any other recommendations for skin care stuff that isn't too pricey?

Janet: Here's my suggestion when it comes to skin care products for conditions such as rosacea, ezcema, etc.: See a dermatologist and ask his/her opinion for what you should use. If you like, send a note to our Skin Sense columnist who's a dermatologist in Boston. Her e-mail is: skincare@washingtonpost.com.

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Glover Park: What's going on with the Deck in GP? Seems to be a lot of construction going on lately and I read on latenightshots that it's under new management? That place used to be great, but has had a few bad seasons lately. Any news on what's going on?

Fritz: I dunno, but the Deck hasn't been that good for a few years. I seem to remember liking it back in the early 2000s, when it was a reliable summertime happy hour.
I know the owner is on LNS, though, so maybe he'll post something about it.

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Mani/Pedi in Va.: Where can I find a good but inexpensive place for manicures and pedicures in Arlington? The big name salons in the area charge outrageous prices.

Janet: Word of mouth is the best way to find these kinds of places. Chatters, have any suggestions for inexpensive manicures/pedicures in Arlington?

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Washington, D.C.: I'm meeting an old college friend for dinner Saturday night. He's relatively new to the area and excited to explore a bit, looking for any cuisine that's non-American but not too pricey. He's in VA and limited by the Metro, though, so I was thinking somewhere in Metro Center/Chinatown to make it easier for him. Any suggestions for a restaurant where we'd have a chance to be seated and hear each other on a Saturday night? Or am I really reaching here? Thanks!

Erin: You're not reaching at all. In the Chinatown area, most people are intimidated by the actual Chinatown. You could try my favorite Chinatown Express or Burma Restaurant, which has a killer ginger salad. If you're willing to make reservations, you could try Oyamel, which is spanking new in its Chinatown location.

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Washington, D.C.: My sister is getting married soon and I want to treat her to a lingerie buying day - lovely gowns with robe to match, chemises, etc. Thing is, she is not a tiny girl. Where can we shop for sexy, 40DD size garments where the selection will be good and she will feel comfortable. Thanks.

Anne: Congrats to the bride-to-be! Trousseau in Vienna and Sylene's in Chevy Chase are two shops that will have options for pretty treats to fit your sis, and I've found the staff at Trousseau to be very sweet. Have fun shopping.

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Washington, D.C.: Not sure if this fits the theme of today's talk, but I was wondering if any of you can recommend a good local jewelry store to shop for wedding bands. We'd like to avoid the giant chains, and are looking for good service and value. Thanks!

Janet: A lot of people around here have had good luck with I. Gorman. Check it out.

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New to D.C.: Hey guys I very much enjoy all your recommendations and was wondering where can I find a great interior decorator for a new condo I just purchased? I'm a male with a budget of less than 15K for a 1500 square foot unit.

Julia: I just wrote a story about this for the Express. There are a bunch of designers in the area who specialize in small spaces. I'm afraid it's not online, or I'd just give you the article, but I remember thinking that the design services at Vastu seemed especially reasonable (the designers there only charge for the hours they spend outside of their store). Lisa Cannon at Condo Cool could also work to a small budget.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs! Thanks for your blog reminder about the Chocolate Decadence thing at the Ritz. Do we need to make reservations, or can we just walk in? How long are the lines/wait? Thanks!

Erin: Reservations aren't required, but making one would ensure you a spot and you could request to be in the same room as that delightful buffet.
Arriving earlier is better for Chocolate Decadence. People do linger because there's no reason to abandon the chocolate before you absolutely have to, right?

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Downtown/Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C.: Hey GoGs! I have a quick question for you... I really am stumped. Work is treating my coworkers and I to our monthly happy hour this Friday and I cannot think of anyplace new and exciting to go--and I seem to be the only ones with ideas. I've even scoured your web site for ideas! We typically try to go someplace kind of middle-ish (meaning we've slummed and gone to Harry's or done the Willard, but would prefer something in between--we get more that way). We've done Clyde's, Alamo Grill, Cafe Atlantico, Poste, Rasika, Gordon Biersch, Cap City, Legal Seafoods, etc. Central seems expensive. Any other thoughts? Maybe it's time for me to give up and do a repeat? Oh yeah, we're downtown, but on the Penn Quarter side (11th & F) and I think there's a game. No other requirements than bang for your buck (at least enough to make me satisfied), yet not someplace I'd be willing to pay for myself. SORRY for the long, convoluted question!

Fritz: I'm confused. If the place offers "bang for your buck," why wouldn't you be willing to pay for it yourself, especially if you're not looking for something too high end?
Anyway, Old Dominion Brewing Company has a good happy hour and a bunch of really good brews to try, and since happy hour ends early (6:30), maybe you can get your boss to pick up the full-price tab after -- or at least spring for a giraffe so you can enjoy 133 ounces of Aviator or Tupper's Hop Pocket?
Another thought: I still like the upstairs Brewers' Lounge at District Chophouse. Not really crowded before games, good house-brewed drafts, with the added bonuses of leather sofas and pool tables.
Just a warning: I've done Central for happy hour twice, and while I like the drinks, it's usually so packed that a group can't really stand/sit around and talk.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus, For the reader asking about cheap mani/pedi places, it would be helpful to know one's definition of cheap. A word of caution on "cheap" nail salons: They may not be as careful and sanitary and I don't think anyone wants to get an infection or worse. I went to Modern Day Spa at Pentagon City mall recently for a pedicure and it was really great. It cost $36, which is on the more expensive side but well worth it for the service and quality.

Janet: Word to the wise. A cheap manicure and/or pedicure can wind up being expensive in terms of your health.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus! I have exactly 5 friends and we are looking for some silly, wacky, even zany fun this Saturday, around 2pm or so. Ideally, this activity would include decorated shopping carts and raising money for charity. Do you have any suggestions, preferably in the Dupont Circle area? Thanks, you guys are the best!! PS: If you do have a suggestion, is there a registration deadline we should be aware of?

Fritz: You know what's funny? I just mentioned something like this in the Nightlife Agenda today. In fact, it's the FIRST THING IN THE COLUMN.
Ironic, isn't it?

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Shaw, Washington, D.C.: Where is there a coffee shop that has live music playing, around downtown or Arlington?

David: That would be Murky Coffee, formerly Common Grounds. They just started booking shows again, you can check the schedule on their you-know-what page, usually a couple shows per month. They are all $5 and all-ages, which is very awesome. I saw some shows back in the Common Grounds day but haven't seen any since they started back up.

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Please... in D.C.: Dear GOGs, I am in the lucky position of having dinner with 3 of the loveliest people (I'm not talking about in a lusty sort of way but instead the overall quality of each diner). Each knows food very well. I would like to take them to a place for a quality meal and a quality evening in Washington DC. I'm not looking for a loud or trendy or the hottest scene - but rather a quiet, low-key, unpretentious place where we can indulge in conversation, food is excellent, and good, unobtrusive service. I'm not looking for a place to wow and impress; I don't need to do that. That said, I'm considering Circle Bistro (from what I understand, a solid but not overrun performer), Morrison Clarke (am curious about the quaint place, but don't know much about the place), and Iron Gate (cute garden patio - but I understand it has communal tables, which I like -but don't feel would be appropriate for this context).

Please let me have your thoughts.

Thank you

Erin: It sounds like you've given this a good amount of thought. Very cool. My last experience at Circle offered decent food, but it did not thrill me. You should consider adding Tabard Inn to your list along with Vidalia. If price and geography are not important, bump the bistro at Restaurant Eve and 1789 to the top of your list.

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Wedding bands: My husband and I had our wedding bands made for us by Eric Margry (he has a studio in the Torpedo Factory). We love the rings and they were really less expensive than the stores. I think he basically just charged us the cost of the metal. Mine is platinum and he angled it slightly to fit close to my engagement ring. My husband's is white gold with some engraving work. He might not set stones though, I'm not sure. Worth checking out and it's cool to have a ring that is totally unique.

Janet: What a good suggestion. Brides- and grooms-to-be, take note.

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Clarendon, Va.: Re: Shamrock Fest (it's the weekend before St Pats)

I've lived in Clarendon for a few years now and part of the draw of Shamrock fest was that while there was always a huge crowd, the lines were somewhat manageable and you could always escape into a local bar ie Front Page for some cheaper beers and a bathroom. Call me pessimistic, but since it's the first time outside of Ballston and they are expecting twice as many people I bet it turns out to be a debacle. But hey, there are good bands at least....

As for St Pats day, I'm getting outta here and heading to Dewey Beach for the Starboard grand opening weekend. Starboard +St Pats= a VERY interesting combo of debauchery!

Fritz: I totally agree. I went a few years ago and was happy to avoid the loooong beer truck lines for a (better tasting and about the same price) pint at Rock Bottom. You won't have that option at RFK, so I hope the lines are shorter.

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St Patty's EARLY: there is a large parade in Alexandria this weekend for St Patty's Day, so you can go and then go to one of the several Irish bars in town afterwards for a St Patty's Day without the St Patty's Day obnoxious crowds.

Fritz: True, but it's a little early to be celebrating. I mean, two weeks early? That's like throwing a Mardi Gras party the first week in February to beat the rush.
If you do go to the parade on Saturday, I still think Murphy's is the best Guinness in Old Town.
(BTW: Paddy is short for Patrick. Patty is short for Patricia. Unless you celebrate her feast day.)

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Arlington, Va.: Re: Mani/Pedi in Va All my friends go to Royal Nails on Lee Hwy in Arlington a few blocks up from the Italian Store in a little strip mall. Go to Jenny or Tammy, very cheap and very good and they just got brand-new pedi chairs that have back massagers in them!

Janet: Sounds good to us. Thanks for the heads-up.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey GOGs. I'm tired of spending $15, $20, $30 to hear a little jazz. Aren't there any coffee shops in the area that have live music, like a trio or something, for FREE??

Fritz: For no-cover jazz, I'm always happy to head to U Street and hear the Young Lions at Cafe Nema (Thursday), Wayne Wilentz (Thurs/Sun) or Collector's Edition (Friday) at U-Topia or the rotating band at Jo-Jo. At any of those spots, you'll be happy to commandeer a table for the night and listen to some great music.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi GoGs,

Any suggestions on where to look for museum wedding venues in D.C.? We're looking for a ceremony and reception site that will hold around 200 people. Any ideas are appreciated - thanks in advance!

Julia: Wow, did you ask the right person! I've just been looking through all this myself. The short answer is that the museums/historic houses are great for groups of 150, but 200 is often a stretch. None of the Smithsonian Museums allow space rental for weddings, so that narrows the venue field considerably.
If you're willing to stay in Virginia, the Torpedo Factory is a good option. In D.C., the National Museum of Women in the Arts is pricey, but tax-deductible and can fit well over 200 people. Carnegie Library is another pricey, but big enough option.
On the historic house side of things, I've heard good things about Tudor Place and I can personally vouch for how wonderful Meridian House is (that's the place we picked!). Halcyon House in Georgetown is pretty as well. They don't have a Web site, but you can get in touch with Wendy Charles at 202-338-3295.
Any brides out there with more suggestions for this person?

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Bethesda, Md.: Submitting early because work is getting in the way! BTW, love the chats and am a devoted follower/first-time poster. Having a girls night out at the National Theatre to see "Doubt" in a couple of weeks (Sunday evening). Heard that "Central" is the hot place to dine these days ~ have you guys been? Have been to most of the trendy restaurants downtown (though it's been a while since I've experienced some of them). Any other advice/recommendations for pre-theatre restaurants? Thanks for your help...

Erin: I've been to Central a few times. It's actually a good time. The crowd tends to be older and well-heeled, so you won't be fighting with too many Posh spice-a-likes to get your mai tai at the bar. If you're carnivores, go for the charcuterie platter. The chicken dishes (fried and rotisserie) are also worth a trip. It gets loud and busy, but I have enjoyed my visits. For an alternative, Ceiba just unveiled a pre-theater menu, but I'd still go for Central.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello-

Is C-Mart metro accessible? I see it's near Fed-Ex field, but I have never been over there and have no idea the distance from the metro station. Would it be worth the extra time and energy and go there?

Fritz: Totally worth the time and effort, but I'm not sure I'd walk, since it involves crossing over the beltway, and as much as I love P.G. County, we're not too big on sidewalks.
Metro says you can get the A12 bus from Largo Town Center on weekends; I just got a Zipcar.

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Washington, D.C.: RE: Old Dominion Brewhouse. A group of about 15 of us, 20something men and women, went and were having a wonderful time, buying the enormous beer spouts and lots of food. Until, the table next to us (six men in their 40s and 50s) started ogling the women at our table, making crude comments, and harassing us. After complaining to the manager, we were told that we could either move tables or leave, even though we weren't the cause of the problem. This is unacceptable. We all left, at only 10:30, when we would have spent the whole evening there. We won't be back. The management and staff were unresponsive and snotty when we asked for their assistance, and didn't properly deal with the problem.

Fritz: Wow. That's completely unacceptable. I hope they at least gave you a break.

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Washington, D.C.: My question is when it is a good time to go to Fogo de Toro? My friends never seem to be hungry enough, but I do want to eat food cooked on swords.

Erin: Though Toro sounds better to my ear, I believe you're asking about Fogo de Chao. You're right in guessing that no appetite is ample enough to conquer the sword meats. Last time I went was for lunch during restaurant week. It was $20 all-you-can-eat. Prices aren't significantly higher for lunch the rest of the time, but it's always nice to save a bit. I do feel that it's priced high for dinner.
Recommendation: Don't starve yourself before going. The meat sweats will kick in much quicker if you do.

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Glam Girl, Washington, D.C.: I've heard mixed reviews about Blue Gin on Thursday's now that they have a new promoter. I like the no cover, $7 Red Bull & Vodkas and that their dj is supposed to be fun...but I'm 24 and wondering if the crowd is much older than me?

I want to do something one step up from Third Edition & Smith Point but not go hang out with my parents! Any thoughts?

Fritz: BG is for pre-gaming on Thursday, really. It's a younger crowd early, or has been, but seems to get older later as people make their way over to Smith Point. I say you just get on the list and check it out -- no harm no foul -- and then you can always go to the Point for the open bar if it doesn't work for you.

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Alexandria, Va.: I know this may sound strange but I want to take a floral arrangement class. Every time I get flowers, I have no idea how to arrange them and make them look nice. So they end up looking terrible! So can you help me find a class in D.C. or Northern Virginia that I can possibly take? Any suggestions? Thanks!

Anne: I feel the same way, Alexandria. You should ask Janet about the times I've begged her assistance in fixing a store-bought bouquet. But we don't all have her stylish eye, so I think this is a cool idea. I don't know of any coming up at the usual suspects, like Northern Virginia Community College's continuing ed or Alexandria or Fairfax county's rec department, but I'd start by contacting some other local organizations that love flowers -- people at Green Spring Gardens near you or the National Arboretum might lead to some good suggestions. Or, the organizers of Virginia Garden Week. Good luck, and let us know what you find.

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Foggy Bottom, D.C.: My mom and aunt are visiting this weekend. Our plans for Saturday include the National Gallery of Art & the National Cathedral. Any suggestions for a cute, DC-ish place to grab brunch before our day begins--preferably Metro accessible and somewhat in-route to one of these tourist stops. Thanks!

Erin: I am probably a broken record by now, but I love the casual breakfasty fare at Penn Quarter's Teaism. The cilantro scrambled eggs are my favorite. Poste, which is around the corner, dishes up Saturday brunch as well. Up near the Cathedral, Cafe Deluxe is the place to dine with a Saturday lunch menu.

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Art in Va.: Any ideas for art courses in Virginia? I'm in my 20s and looking for a great after-work activity. Thanks!

Julia: You should check out tomorrow's Weekend section. The Post's Michael O'Sullivan has reviewed several drop-in art classes for tomorrow's paper. McLean Project for the Arts and the Art League School (two of the places he writes about) are great places to start. You might also consider looking into classes in your county's Rec Centers.

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Washington, D.C.: Just checked Nightlife Agenda and am wondering where exactly St. Stephen's church is? The show sounds great but want to make sure I end up at the right place! Thanks GOGs!

David: It's pretty much right off 16th St., around Columbia/Harvard, that general area, about a mile (I think?) from U Street. Just Google Map it, it's pretty easy to find.

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Mt. Pleasant, Washington, D.C.: Since I moved here a few months ago, I've been looking to fill my dancehall/reggae fix! Anywhere in the district that does this proper on the weekends? Everywhere I turn it is hip hop and house. suggestions?

David: I did a blog post on this a couple of months ago, so I'll direct you there. Also, this weekend is the annual D.C. Reggae Awards, so if you want to head out to Beltsville tomorrow night you'll be all set. Plus you can probably find info/flyers there for every dancehall/reggae night in town.

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Washington, D.C.: For the wedding venue person, visit the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum on the Hill (2nd & Constitution). The Women's National Democratic Club on Dupont is also very nice.

Julia: Two more for the wedding person. Anne can second the vote for the Democratic Club; she said she went to a really nice wedding there.

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Connecticut Avenue, NW: GoG- Where can I go for GOOD salsa dancing tonight??

Fritz: Cecilia's or Cococabana both have large dance floors and actual crowds on Thursdays.

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more on the early St Patrick's: re: Alexandria early St Patrick's: O'Connell's is having its one-year anniversary. I am not sure if it is on Saturday (just saw a sign in the window, didn't read too carefully). They are giving away a gift certificate for Irish travel, and some other stuff. Now that I think about it, I bet it is open Saturday to coordinate with the parade. Worth checking out because the beer is good and so is the food. Plus, the layout of the bars is cool.

Fritz: I don't always enjoy the vibe there, but if you're going to Old Town, it's certainly an option, and hopefully you won't have to hear the bloody Unicorn Song.

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Washington, D.C.: RE: Old Dominion, again. No Fritz, they gave us no break on the bill, which was about $500, with at least $300 of that in beer. As I said, never again. They really lost out, because we are all huge sports fans and we would have come their for March Madness.

Fritz: That's really lame for something that's not your fault. Then again, this is also the first (major) complaint I've received about the place, other than "the decor is lame" and "the TVs are too loud."

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Bethesda: Hi guys! Suggestions please for a getting-to-know-you after-work meet-up around K St./Dupont/Adams Morgan. Need hip and somewhat quiet (i.e. not rowdy so we can have a convo) for a group of late 30-somethings. What's new in town? Thanks!

Fritz: Science Club, would fit the bill, as long as you're not going on, say, Friday. Firefly's lounge would work, too, or maybe even the bar at Corduroy, though it's not quite "hip."

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Alexandria, Va.: Hey guys! Does anyone know of any trivia type bar events in Alexandria on Thursdays? I have a friend in town and would like to take her.

Thanks so much for all of your help. Also, a shout out to Erin for suggesting Yamazato sushi in Alexandria- I tried it on your suggestion and love it! Thanks for helping me fill my sushi void in Alexandria!!

Erin: I'm so glad that you like Yamazato. I am quite a fan. I'm reaching out to the peanuts for this one. I know that Tuesday's trivia night at Murphy's, but I'm hard-pressed to recall a Thursday spot in Alexandria. Anybody got one for us?

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Bowie, Maryland: Is the DC "Iditarod" worth watching as a spectator sport this weekend?

Fritz: The problem with the Idiotarod as a spectator sport is that they're not announcing the whole itinerary in advance (figuring out where to go is part of the race), so it's hard to say where you should stand to watch the carts drunkenly trundle by. But it starts at the Front Page at 2:30 and ends at Chief Ike's ... later.

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Bethesda, Md.: Can you guys suggest a place that has really good but cheap fries? A lot of places just suck at that.

Erin: I get my fries cravings satiated on the cheap at Amsterdam Falafel. Seriously.

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New York, N.Y.: What are the quirky, somewhat offbeat goings-on for this weekend in the city? And if you want an out-of-towner to experience D.C., what are the top three things they should do/see?

Anne: Julia just wrote about a bunch of funky gallery exhibits opening this Friday, and also on Friday, the Dance Bethesda festival starts with lessons that turn into free-for-all dancing -- should be quite a scene. The D.C. Independent Film Festival also begins this weekend. Saturday is a screening of "Gangsta Mimes," and the title is exactly what the plot sounds like. Another plot that caught my attention: Sunday's "Barney the Terrier" is one filmmaker's look into the mind of the first dog. And for visitors, check our ideas on that very topic -- how to see D.C. in under three days.

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Glam Girl, Washington, DC: How do you get on the list? I was told they are flexible at the door during the week and anyone can get in if dressed okay?

Fritz: Yeah. No list on Thursday nights, but that could always change, from the rumbles I'm hearing. But it's an open bar for charity tonight, so at least it's for a good cause.

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Ballston: For person looking for a work Happy hour spot near K/Dupont/Adams-Morgan where they can converse...Panache might do the trick as well

Fritz: Oh, good call. I gotta get back over there one of these weekends. Always loved the house-infused vodka.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi gurus-

I've gotten more interested in art over the last year or so, and would like to start checking out some local galleries. However, I'm not sure if there's anything in the area that matches my interests: I'm most interested in what I guess would be classified as "alternative" art: the type of stuff you see in Juxtapoz, Swindle, etc., plus other things like designer toys, designer plush, etc. that you'd see in a Kid Robot store. Is there anything like that in the D.C. area?

Julia: A bunch of the local galleries are embracing what I guess I'd call the graffiti-inspired aesthetic. I think your best bet is to check out the galleries in Logan Circle -- starting with this Saturday's reception for "Tug of War" at Hemphill (I linked to it above). Andy Moon Wilson also has an exhibit opening at Curator's Office that night. The works on display are "business card drawings" but his stuff is really funky, so I'd check that out too.
Also, look out for exhibitions with Kelly Towles.

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Oh Please Grant Me My Grammar Rant: "Work is treating my coworkers and I to our monthly happy hour this Friday"

It's "me," not "I"!!!!!

(You use I or me, based on how you'd say it if you were referring to yourself only.

Work is treating me. Working is treating coworkers and me. or: I'm going out. Coworkers and I are going out.)

Fritz: I'm a stickler for this myself in spoken language, not just the written word. Also, don't get me started on the constant misuse of who/whom.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: I have a date tomorrow and want to pick a nice, but not overly priced restaurant on the Hill or nearby (Chinatown-Gallery Place). Suggestions? The only restriction is that my date does not like Indian food. I want to make a good impression but not break the bank.

Erin: How about Sonoma or Montmartre? Both are cozy, conducive to conversation and reasonable for what you get.

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Arlington, Va.: I know you don't always love plugs - but how about one for charity? A friend and I started a charity event for the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, and we'll be hosting a special viewing of Cannonball Run this Sunday (4 p.m. Doors Open/Silent Auction; 4:30 p.m. Movie starts) at the Arlington Cinema N' Drafthouse to benefit our campaign the One Lap to Fight Prostate Cancer. We've raised more than $35,000 since January, and this is our final event. Its $20 to get in, and all the money will be donated to NPCC. More information can be found at the Arlington Cinema N' Drafthouse web site or at www.fightprostatecancer.org. Gurus - When was the last time you saw this 70's cult classic??? This Sunday is your chance!

Fritz: It's worth it just to see Sammy and Dean driving the Ferrari while dressed as priests. Such classic stuff. And Terry Bradshaw in a NASCAR stock car? Priceless.

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Idiotarod: Last year, my roommate and I happened on the start of the race at the Front Page. We hung out and watch them start off the race. We ended up walking to Adams Morgan later on that afternoon to walk around, and kept running into participants. It seemed like people were chilling on the outdoor patios last year, just watching the commotion.

Fritz: So if you're looking to spend Saturday outdoors...

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Washington, D.C.: Not a bride but I once saw a wedding being set up at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 NY Ave.). No idea how much that would cost but it looked beautiful!

Janet: I just happen to have that figure -- $10,000 smackers!

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Going to the Chapel...: For the love of God!

I'm trying to find a quaint little chapel around the Annapolis-ish area (am flexible) that is small for a wedding this fall (a la JFK JR. wedding). Why is this so difficult?

Please, any suggestions? I don't want my ceremony is some big, cavernous place...

Thanks

Julia: Hey -- I saw you last week, but couldn't get to you in time. I can't say I know of a place off the top of my head -- aside from the William Paca House, but that's not a chapel. My fiance used to live in Annapolis and I *think* I remember a smallish church on West Street (coming up from downtown toward the Mall). It wasn't the most picturesque place -- as I recall it was right next to the Goodwill -- but it was small and made of pretty stone.
I can't trust my memory completely on this one -- he moved down to D.C. back in 2005 -- so if you haven't already done so, I'd drive around the area for a day. That's way better than my half-remembered snippet of West Street.

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Georgetown, D.C.: So happy it's time for this chat...means the weekend is almost here.

I just moved to Georgetown, my new roommates and I and a few friends want to take advantage of the fact we're in walking distance of all the bars Friday. We're going to start with wine at the house, then where can a group of 25-28 yr old ladies go to continue the wine...later we'd like to go someplace a little fun with lots of men in our age range (maybe I'm dreaming with the last request).

thanks!

Fritz: Continuing the wine: Mendocino has a really nice by-the-glass selection in that part of Georgetown, though I'm a huge fan of Bistrot Lepic (in the no-man's land between G-town and Glover Park).
Going Out Later: Blue Gin for cocktails and dancing, most likely, or Mie N Yu if you just want to chill and lounge while a DJ spins.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm going baby shopping this weekend. (Not shopping for a baby, but for baby stuff, you know.) Where can I find cute maternity clothes that aren't outrageously expensive? And, are there are second-hand furniture stores in the District where I can hope to find baby furniture?

Janet: Here's what our resident expert had to say:
I've found that Target and Old Navy have been half-decent. The selections are hit-or-miss at both stores, but on a good day, I can find a few outfits at each. eBay is another good source -- I found a pair of black Gap maternity pants for DIRT CHEAP and I practically live in them, unlike the $80 pair of Mimi Maternity pants that are tres uncomfortable and barely stay up!
For furniture, I'd recommend joining a local parents' listserve, such as DC Urban Mom. Parents frequently post about furniture, toys, gear, (and maternity clothes) that they're trying to offload.
Hope that helps!

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Washington, D.C.: First date tomorrow, I'd love to hear some jazz and be able to talk. Do you guys know any options that fits the bill?

Fritz: For something classy, the Satin Doll Trio performs wonderful vocal jazz at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City. It'll be funkier over at Bohemian Caverns, where the Young Lions are performing, but I love the atmosphere and the group's tight, classic arrangements.

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Cleveland Park, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

Any idea what will be going into the now-closed Whatsa Bagel and Blockbuster on CT Avenue? A new restaurant? Another coffee place?

Thanks!

Fritz: Sadly, I heard a Cosi.

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Silver Spring, Md.: hi gogs, thanks for the great chats every week.

any word on when the Birchmere will open in Silver Spring?

David: Oh, not for a very long time. At least two years, 2009-ish, and that's probably a best case scenario.

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Washington, D.C.: Re: Silk Flowers - I know they're not silk, but I love the fake flower arrangements at Target. I have six or seven both at office and at home. They are reasonably priced and cute.

Janet: For the chatter in search of fake flowers. Not silk, but you can't have everything.

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Silver Spring, MD: Hi Gurus! Long time reader, first time chatter. I am currently plagued by a stash of old bridesmaid dresses in the back of my closet. I have been looking for places to donate them in the D.C. area, but my research is not turning up any options. Ideally, I'd love to find one of those groups that cleans them and provides them to underprivileged girls for the prom. Mostly I just want them out of my closet so I have my space back and they stop silently mocking me. Any ideas for charities, thrift stores, etc. that would love to have them? Thanks!

Julia: Kind of far from Silver Spring, but the Reston Community Center is collecting dresses until March 30 for its annual prom-dress giveaway. If you'd like to avoid the hassle of the drive, Georgia Avenue Thrift Store would also be happy to have them.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey,

St. Stephen's church is on the corner of 16th Street and Newton St. It's about a 4 block walk up from the CH Metro and the 16th Street bus stops right in front....

David: Google maps? We don't need no freakin' Google maps.

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Dressed to the nines: Hey GoGs-

Where in this mighty town may a lady go - dressed to the nines - for a beautiful, leisurely drink?

My thanks

Fritz: Depends on the atmosphere you're looking for, but I think perching at the bar at Rasika (ask for Gina) or sipping a cocktail at Indebleu or Degrees at the Ritz-Carlton sounds like a lovely idea.

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Hookah or Cigar Bar?: My Friend's birthday is Saturday night and all he wants is a laid back bar where he can drink a good beer, and smoke a hookah or cigar. Do you have any suggestions??

Fritz: In D.C., the only place that really fits the bill right now is Soussi, because they have good Belgians on tap and hookahs on the patio. Well, maybe the bar at Shelly's, since they allow smoking inside. I think they had a few decent drafts, but nothing too-far out of the ordinary.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey Gurus! Just wanted to know if the Dupont First Fridays are still going on, I'm interested in checking out some galleries this week.

Thanks!

Julia: It is, but the Friday-night gallery romp has been rather slow as of late. Conner Contemporary is opening two really cool shows this Friday night, so I'd make that your first stop. I'd also check out Studio Gallery and Alex Gallery for guaranteed openings. If you're up for art on Saturday, check out the Logan Circle openings I mentioned above.

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Annapolis little chapel!: Check out St. Margaret's! It's a short drive from the center of Annapolis (it's on St. Margaret's Road), one of the oldest in the area and full of charm.

Julia: Thanks so much! I'm glad we found that gal an answer!

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Annapolis little chapel, part two: Here's some detail about St. Margaret's, which I mentioned a second ago. The building is 100+ years old.

www.st-margarets.org/

Julia: You are just full of wonderful information today!

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Idea for instrument lessons (and rentals)?: Hello, Gurus! This isn't as much of a "going out" question as you're probably used to, but I know there's no one (and no chat) better to ask! I played the saxophone in middle school and junior high, but haven't touched it since (nearly 20 years). I've been thinking it'd be fun to pick it up again, just to see what it's like, and would love to find a place for private lessons and to rent (not buy!) a sax. Any ideas where I should start? Info doesn't have to be sax-specific, really any source for music lessons would be fantastic! Thanks as always for your fantastic know-how!

Anne: Hey, we like all kinds of questions, and music always fits in with going out in our book. Power to you for getting back to your sax roots, there. David and I put our heads together on this and I was thinking HR-57 would be a good place to start, since the founders are focused on educating people about jazz, and I bet people there could start you off with some tips on local sax musicians who also teach. Chuck Levin's is the biggie in local music/rental stores. I'm not sure what neighborhood is closest to you, but I often turn to Catholic U for music advice.

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Washington, D.C.: Love your chats and need your help! Please---I need options for happy hour tonight! I have a friend in from out of town for one night. We'll be in the Dupont Circle area, but we're flexible.

The two Thursday Happy Hours that I have heard are Front Page ($2 Coronas and tacos, I think) and MCCXXIII ($15 open bar?)...any thoughts on either or alternatives??

Thank you!!!

Fritz: Both will be crowded, but they're good deals. I think Front Page skews a little more towards interns than 1223's, where the vodka drinks are sometimes a little weak -- but you can always have more of them. Also, 1223's is dressier, not really a khakis kind of place.
And don't forget Lucky Bar's $2 Bud night. Always packed late, when the DJ starts and you find yourself dancing next to the pool table...

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Hookah!: Doesn't Chi Cha Lounge on U Street still have hookahs?

Fritz: Yeah, but they're not where I'd go for good beer.

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Shaw, Washington, D.C.: How is RocketBar before or after Caps games?

Fritz: Haven't been there pre-game, but they do have a smaller "service bar" on one side of the room to lessen crowding before sporting events, so I'm curious to check it out.
On non-sports nights, though, I'm really digging the place. Great jukebox, good beers, good service and table-top shuffleboard.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus - a slight nuance on an often asked question...

I'm getting back together with an Ex-BF this weekend for happy hour on Friday. We haven't spoken too much since we ended things 3 months ago - hoping this meeting is drama free...

Where would you suggest we meet for casual drinks? Nothing too loud where we can't hear each other, but with enough people so we don't feel awkward. HELP

Fritz: You'll want something like Biddy Mulligan's in Dupont Circle, actually. It's a bland-ish hotel bar that will have some crowds but nothing to make it too awkward, and you can always grab a seat by the windows for people-watching when the conversation slows down.

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Washington, D.C.: This might not be your area of expertise, but I thought I could give it a shot. My friend's bachelorette party is this Saturday. We are going to a nice dinner at Marrakesh, but then we want to take her to a male strip club. I cannot find anything online about places to go, not even a working phone number to call. Do you have any suggestions? Two caveats - one of our bachelorette party members is only 19, and we would prefer they had valet of some sort (my friend has a nicer car and are wary about parking it in SE). THANKS!

Julia: Many of the ones in D.C. closed last spring in preparation for the stadium. I can vouch for the Hangar Club in Temple Hills. I went there once when I was high school so the 19-year-old shouldn't have a problem. (Jeez, I hope my mom/future-mother-in-law isn't reading today.) Legend Nightclub (also out Route 5, but a little closer to the city) also hosts a naughty girls' night on Wednesday. We got an e-mail about it a couple months ago and I had to call the club and ask for "Scorpion" -- obviously the highlight of my professional career.

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Chapel question: They might consider Solomons, MD - on the water with a really cute little chapel - St. Peter's Parish

http://www.middlehamandstpeters.org/

Much quieter than Annapolis, but not very far, either.

Julia: Another good idea!

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washingtonpost.com: My, my, look at the time. It's been real, D.C. We'll catch you next week.

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