Got Plans?: July 4th, Outdoor Movies, Bars for First Dates, Anniversary Plans

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The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, July 2, 2009; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff talked about the Fourth of July, anniversary plans, bars for first dates and outdoor movies on Thursday, July 2 at 1 p.m. ET.

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washingtonpost.com: Hey there chatters, got an hour to spend with us before you leave the office early and start your long weekend? Good. I'm sure Fourth of July and fireworks are on everyone's minds, so we'll cover as much as we can. Feel free to share any favorite spots for watching, best memories or other entertaining July 4th stories. Off we go...

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Anonymous: I'm bored. What should I do tomorrow?

Julia: I like this question for its brutal honestly. I'm going to the baseball game. You could do that? Swing by the newly revamped Eastern Market? Go to a pool party?

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Seven Corners: Any idea what's going to happen at The Bullpen Saturday. Will they be open pre-game, but not post-game due to the Party on the Potomac? The Nats play Atlanta at 1 pm. Thanks.

Fritz: The Bullpen will be open for drinks/dogs before the game, but it's going to close around the fourth inning for the open-bar extravaganza that is Party on the Potomac. (Patriotic critter pants encouraged!)

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SW: Hi GOGs, I was wondering if anyone knows if Cantina Marina is a good spot to watch the fireworks on the fourth. Can you see them from there? Thanks!!!!

Fritz: The honest answer is that it depends. The upstairs, which has the nice deck, has been rented for a private party. From the dock-level bar, there are some places where you can see the monument and fireworks, but there's another variable -- according to a manager, sightlines depend on the tide level. The higher the waterline, the more boats that will in the way.

Complicated explanation, I know.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you know if the Dupont Art Walk, which normally takes place the first Friday of the month, is happening given the holiday weekend? Thanks!

Stephanie: It looks like First Friday is happening. At least Hillyer is advertising tomorrow's new exhibition opening as a First Friday reception, and I believe Washington Printmakers Gallery is doing the same.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey Gurus!

I'm considering checking out Lima's Salsa Dancing on Monday night. Can you describe how the vibe is?

I am new to the Salsa scene and was wondering how it would be to fit in.

Thanks!

Fritz: Lima's salsa scene is very social, as long as you're not hiding in the corners or posted up at the bar with a drink in your hand. (That can be difficult, seeing how ladies drink free from 9 to 11.) My advice would be to go early for the free salsa lesson and talk to people in the class, which will give you a couple potential partners once the DJ starts up later.

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Laytonsville, Md.: My husband and I are celebrating 27 years of married life on July 3. We are looking for a romantic place for dinner with a view and a descent wine list.

Julia: Congrats, Laytonsville! Getting reservations for tomorrow isn't easy in this town. Check out our Best Bets List for Restaurants With Views to get started. No, these views aren't all of the monuments -- those views are hard to come by in this town, but some -- particularly the Old Hickory Steakhouse -- are stunning all the same. If you don't need a view, I'll recommend Proof for a good wine list. New Heights -- on our views list if you sit by the window -- could work too.

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Washington, D.C.: Will there be a jazz happy hour in the sculpture garden tomorrow even though it is a federal holiday?

David: Yup, will be happening as usual. And Bio Ritmo will be playing its spicy salsa, so it should be a good one.

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Ballpark: What the heck is Party on the Potomac?

Fritz: Party on the Potomac is an annual event with eight-and-a-half hours of open bar and live music. It's moving from Cantina Marina to the Bullpen this year.

You can find out about more July 4-related nightlife events ere.

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DCer: I just wanted to give a quick reply to person complaining about how DCers are not friendly. Perhaps that is true, but the stories that emerged from the Metro tragedy show a deeper side to the people who live here. A chaplain and others talked with a girl as she died so she wouldn't be alone, others risked breaking their hands to break glass so they could escape, a dying woman handed her cellphone to an injured teenager so she could call her mother, others who stripped off clothes to use as bandages, the businesses and law firms that held immediate blood drives, and so on and so forth.

So perhaps we aren't friendly to a group of kids who are often narcissistic in previous renditions. However, I honestly don't know of another city that is able -- in the form of its people -- to respond well to tragedy.

Julia: I don't want to open the floodgates on this topic again, but I thought this post was worth getting out there. An excellent point. (And if you haven't read our colleague Eli Saslow's fantastic story about the people in the first car of the striking train, you should.)

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Bethesda, Md.: Any advice about attending the July 3 rehearsal of the NSO concert on Capitol Hill? We're traveling with 2 young kids, and thought the smaller crowd might be more manageable.

Anne: I think that's a good plan -- I'll see you there. The security gates for Capitol Fourth open at 5, but if you have little ones you'll want to sit on the outer edge anyway so they can run around. I have a feeling that tomorrow's will attract a decent crowd since it's a Friday, though. (There's also a rehearsal tonight, complete with all your Sesame Street friends.) Between that and Bio Ritmo in the Sculpture Garden and Folklife, it will be a happening Friday night on the Mall.

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Reston, Va.: Will everything be open in Eastern Market this weekend? Even on the 4th?

Julia: Yep -- from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., says Eastern Market's Web site.

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It may be a bit early, but: Do you guys know when your next happy hour will be? And where?

Anne: Yep -- it's always the second Thursday, and in July, we're movin' on up to the rooftop of BLT Steak.

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BYT Pool Party: Hey Gurus. Happy Fourth! I've read great things from you and elsewhere on the Brightest Young Things Summer Camp pool parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Any word on the party there for the 4th? Do people need to buy tickets in advance, and how early do you recommend going to snag a lounge chair? One more- can you see the fireworks from there?

Fritz: You can't buy tickets in advance -- you have to make the effort to get up and go down to SWDC. I'd suggest arriving really early, maybe by 1, for a lounge chair; Hundreds of people showed up to the pool last week, and with the holiday in full swing, I guarantee it will be just as crowded. (I'm really looking forward to the soul-loving Fatback DJs and the Truffle Shuffle contest, in that order.)

Oh, and I don't think you can see the fireworks from the hotel, but you can always wander a few blocks west to the Southwest Waterfront, which has decent views.

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Fireworks from Old Town: Can you see fireworks if you walk down to teh waterfront in Old Town Alexandria?

Fritz: Honestly: No clue. (But Alexandria has its own fireworks next weekend.)

Chatters?

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Columbia, Md.: Hello Gurus - I was at the Chi Cha lounge a little over a year and a half ago and people were allowed to smoke cigarettes inside, I guess cause it is a hooka bar. Is that still the case?

Fritz: I was at Chi-Cha last night for the always-amusing Notoriety DJ night run by the guys from U.S. Royalty and there were plenty of people puffing away on hookahs. Didn't see anyone smoking cigarettes, but I'm pretty sure you're allowed to smoke 'em if you got 'em.

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Arlington, Va.: Will Aretha, Barry, et al., be at the Capitol Fourth rehearsals tonight and tomorrow?

Anne: You bet. I still get a kick out of the rehearsals, when you see actually see celebs practicing -- like at the Memorial Day concert this year, when Katharine McPhee took a couple tries to nail the rhythm in a very floaty arrangement of "America the Beautiful."

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Washington, D.C.: I've never been up to a concert at Fort Reno, but I'm think of going with some friends in a few weeks. Are we allowed to bring in food and drinks? If not, what are some good pre-show dinner options up there?

David: Yes, by all means bring a picnic. Just no glass bottles, that's what you want to remember. Save room for the ice cream man, too.

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Iwo Jima, Fireworks: I am planning on watching the Fireworks at Iwo Jima, but wasn't sure what time I should plan to show up. How early do I need to go to snag a good spot? Also, are food and drink allowed on the grounds?

Fritz: If you bring your own picnic, you'll want to arrive at least an hour/90 minutes ahead of the fireworks to stake out a space.

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Germantown, Md.: For the Laytonsville couple looking for a romantic restaurant:

Try Gabriel's Inn in Ijamsville. My husband & I have celebrated many special occasions there.

Julia: Thanks! MoCo love right here, folks.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

My brother is visiting next weekend, July 10-12. He is very much into foreign cultures and science/space, but he's already made the rounds on the relevant Smithsonian museums. Any suggestions of other places to check out? I was thinking it might be cool to go to some embassies, but I'm not sure which ones are open to the public or have special events going on. Thanks!

Stephanie: A lot of the embassies hold special exhibitions and events, so you could check on that first to see if something piques his interest. Fritz is a huge fan of the House of Sweden, which generally has an exhibition or two at any given time. The Goethe Institut will be hosting Fringe Festival plays and has a photo exhibition going on. And then there's also the Made in Hong Kong Film Festival at the Sackler. As for science-y things, I assume you've checked it out, but since it's off the beaten path I thought I'd throw in the Udvar-Hazy Center.

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Washington, D.C.: Where's a good first date spot for a drink?

Fritz: That completely depends on the vibe you want to establish with the other person. Some people would probably say cocktails at the Gibson would be too much, but others would love the experience. (Personally, I'd say the flickering candles and low light make it more of a third-date destination, but YMMV.) Would a neighborhood bar like the Red Derby or the Tune Inn set the right tone? Hmmm. Middle of the road places: The roof of the Reef, the back patio at the Big Hunt, the roofdeck of Nellie's, a round of mini-golf (with drinks on the course) at H Street Country Club?

Readers?

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Dupont: Hi GOGs-- where can I buy sparklers for 4th of July festivities? (They are legal, right?) Any idea how much they go for?

Julia: Fireworks stands are popping up all over the place. I saw one on Route 50 yesterday on the right hand side of the road as you approach Route 7 in Virginia coming from the District (in the shopping center with the Target). There's also, as Rhome mentioned last week, the perennial favorite on N.Y. Avenue, across from the Checker's, right before you get to Route 50 going toward Annapolis. Sparklers are permitted (as per the MPD's Web site), but be advised to familiarize yourself with the permitted and prohibited items on this list before you traipse off to the store. I have no way of telling whether the person asking this question is a guy or a gal, but if you're like any of the men in my life, you'll come back with a bag full of mildly scary things that go fizzle and pop in the dark.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey gurus,

Having dinner tonight with my cousin near Metro Center. Any suggestions for a good place that won't break the bank to get drinks afterward? Any place have Thursday night specials or a late night happy hour? That area, U Street, or AdMo would all work.

Thanks!

Julia: Metro Center doesn't have a ton of budget-friendly places. Ceiba has an early (3-6 p.m.) and late (9:30 to close) happy hour, so that might fit the bill. If you're down for some place divey, Solly's is always cheap!

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Washington, D.C. : Okay, I should know this, but I find the "I should know this" stuff is hard to find sometimes. Concert rehearsal tomorrow - 5:30 gates/8:30 start? But picnicking, etc. can commence as on the 4th? Also, and here's the der part, is this by the Washington Monument or the Capitol? Yeah, lived here 10 years.

Anne: No prob. All this is in the Fourth of July Guide, but here's the quick info. The Capitol Fourth concert, the one broadcast on TV with all the stars mentioned so far, is at the Capitol. (There are a bunch of other concerts on the Mall at different times, but that's the one people were talking about.) Gates there open at 5 today and Friday (for the rehearsals), 3 on Saturday. Concert starts at 8. Picnic to your heart's content anytime. The fireworks go off at 9:10 p.m. on Saturday on the other end of the Mall, between the Lincoln and the Monument. Gates for that side of the Mall open at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Whew.

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Metro Center: Hey all, kind of a strange etiquette question. I had a haircut this week where I had one person wash my hair, one person cut my hair, and one person dry my hair. This was not a spa or a super fancy salon - we're talking a $40 haircut here. What's the protocol on tipping? I tipped everyone, but that makes my haircut a lot more expensive! Thoughts?

Stephanie: I always throw a few bones to the person who washes my hair on top of the tip for my hairdresser, but I've never had someone else dry my hair. That does get complicated. Any chatters have thoughts on this?

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Washington, D.C.: Bastille Day happens to fall on the same night as the release of the newest Harry Potter installment, which is clearly a tragedy. Is there anything going on the days prior to/following Bastille Day?

Fritz: The Alliance Francaise is throwing its annual party on Friday the 10th, with live music, champagne, petanque, crepes, cheese, etc. It's $45 and usually a good time.

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re: helping in a tragedy vs. being friendly: I'm sorry - that's SO not the same thing. The metro crash was an extraordinary situation and people tend to do more in times like that. It has nothing to do with being friendly. But on a day-to-day basis? Yeah, D.C. folks aren't that friendly.

Julia: I'm D.C. folk! I'm really nice!

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NSO Concert: There's a dress rehearsal tonight as well, right?

Fritz: Yes. I think Anne mentioned earlier that the Sesame Street characters will be there.

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Arlington, Va.: Where's the best place to get a dark and stormy in (North) Arlington?

Fritz: I have yet to have a great Dark and Stormy in Arlington, or at least one that can match those at Bourbon, Ceiba or the Islander in D.C.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Gurus, Some friends have suggested walking around National Harbor on our day off tomorrow. We'd strongly prefer not to drive over the holiday weekend. Is there anyway to get there via metro? Also, we have a few non-drinkers in the crowd, will they have things to do?

Thanks!

Rhome: You can ride the bus. Your leisure options down there are restaurants, shopping, hanging out by the water (which is lovely on a beautiful day) and checking out some art. I think you can enjoy those sober.

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Arlington, Va.: You can show up to the Netherlands Carrillon spot five minutes before the fireworks start and have an unobstructed view. By far my favorite place to watch 'em.

Stephanie: As far as Virginia locales go, this is my fave too. But maybe we shouldn't be giving away our secret spot!

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Sterling, Va.: What can a young 40s gal do, by herself, that does not revolve around drinking this holiday weekend? A place where it's not awkward to be alone? I have no trouble meeting and hanging out with new people it's just awkward walking in somewhere alone.

Thank you and love your column!!!

Julia: Hmm. Sadly, I don't have an easy answer for you so I'm going to throw it out to the chatters. It's really easy to go to some place like Folklife or a gallery opening by yourself -- and a totally fun way to spend the day and feel like you're getting cultured. But it sounds like you want to meet people -- and that isn't so easy. (Like, walking up to someone in the middle of the Mall and being like "Hey" would probably be a little weird.) I can also think of a lot of bars that are friendly to singletons -- Galaxy Hut and Tonic among them -- but if you aren't drinking, that could be a challenge. The Caddyshack screening tonight also seems like a good bet for singles, but once again, you probably won't meet people. I'm stumped. What do you guys think?

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Hmm...: Somewhat random question, but where can I find transcript of older chats? I'm specifically looking for the one where you guys were discussing romantic proposal spots. I think it was a couple of weeks ago?

Julia: This one?

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We can be nice!: Just not when someone with out of D.C. plates parks in front of my house, which is clearly marked as "zone X parking ONLY!" Then I issue my homemade parking tickets.

Julia: Hahahaha. Really? Will you send us one? Cause I'd like to see that.

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U St. Bar Crawl: I heard this was happening last weekend I think (?), and I've missed it. How can some average joes recreate this on our own time? Do any U St. bars have late specials or happy hours?

Fritz: Yeah, I wrote about the Italian-flavored U Street crawl in last week's Going Out Guide newsletter. (Plug/reminder: If you haven't signed up for our weekly lowdown on events, new reviews, etc., you can do so on the Going Out Guide homepage.)

Gotta say, I'm having trouble coming up with specials that last longer than 8 p.m. (That's when the cheap beer specials at Nellie's, Policy and Stetson's end.) If you started around 4 tomorrow, though, you could try hitting at least a bar an hour without paying more than $3 for a beer.

How about...

4: Duffy's for discounted canned beers and drafts

5: Nellie's roof deck for $1 beers

6: Polly's for $2 beers until 7

7: Policy for $2 PBRs until 8.

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Washington, D.C.: I've never been on the Potomac and a couple of friends were thinking of renting a boat and spending some time relaxing on the water. Can you rent boats for just a couple of people?

Rhome: Here's a chance to plug something fun in my 'hood. Head just across the border to the Bladensburg Waterfront and get canoes and kayaks for $15 a day or $6 per hour.

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Arlington, Va.: Re: Getting to National Harbor - don't forget the ferry from Old Town. You can also bike across the Wilson Bridge now.

Rhome: Yes indeed. I need to get on that.

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Washington, D.C.: I love you GoGs, I really do, but I have my first complaint. The data on your iPhone app hasn't be updated in almost a year, and it's almost useless. Any updates planned soon? Please say yes...

Anne: Our iPhone app does update and pull in the new places as we change them on the site. It's been that way since our update last September. So if there's a chance you never got that update, that might be why you're not seeing the new stuff. That said, I just a quick test and found two bars that weren't showing up in the app (but other new places that opened this spring were), so we will do some investigating on it now.

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Rockville, Md.: First date bar: Founding Farmers. Convivial but not crazy. Tasty drinks. (Food, not so much.) I actually don't see the appeal of Gibson for anything. I don't understand that place. They know how many people will be there, given that no one is allowed to stand, yet it takes 45 minutes to get a drink. (15-20 for a fancy drink I'm fine with, but at some point it's just bad management or bad attitude. Not sure which.)

Fritz: You think? I've found it to be crazy crowded, even on Tuesday nights. Like, having-to-stalk-two-stools-for-20-minutes crowded.

As for Gibson, you're right. 15-20 minutes is fine. 45 is not. (Part of the reason I sit at the bar if possible; I've had servers go AWOL before.)

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YMMV........?: I havent seen this before. What does it mean?

Julia: Here you go

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more from re: helping in a tragedy vs. being friendly: I'm D.C. folk as well, born and bred.

Julia: Are you nice? I mean, you must be sort of nice, right? You hang out with us.

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Chi Cha Smoking: you're not allowed to smoke cigarettes there at Chi Cha actually. I talked with one of the servers about it and it has something to do with the permit they have only allowing hookah smoke. I don't get it either -- but that's what they told me.

Fritz: Makes sense. (The reason they can allow hookah smoking is because they sell a certain amount of hookah tobacco.)

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Arlington, Va.: Do you hear a lot of complaints about the Big Hunt? A few weeks ago, our entire party was thrown out because I was fiddling around with a torn up cardboard coaster at my table. I had had zero drinks and everyone else had 1 or 2 at the most, so there was no issue with people acting rowdy or anything. The waiter grabbed the pieces from my hand (I am a female) and told me he "didn't need to be cleaning up after me later" and brought the check and told us to get out. Is this typical or am I more offensive than I think?

Fritz: Well, someone was going to have to clean up all the shredded bits of paper, right? (And don't tell me that if you sat down in a bar booth and saw little bits of torn-up cardboard you wouldn't think "Gross, this place is a mess!")

Seems like a warning would have been better than being kicked out, though.

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4th rehearsal: Okay, so being gullible (or dumb?) I thought the rehearsal included practice fireworks. No "practice" fireworks tomorrow night? -sad face]

Anne: When we say rehearsal, we just mean the performers prepping for the concert at the Capitol. Not the fireworks. But seriously, look around this town at dark any time this week and there will be plenty of Friday night lights and also very unofficial fireworks to see.

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Washington, D.C.: Out-of-towner has one chance for a good meal in D.C. this weekend (dinner Friday night, nothing too fancy) - where would you take her?

Fritz: Etete. I'm willing to bet most out-of-towners can't get great Ethiopian where they're from.

Julia: You know, I'm really digging the food at Lola's these days. I also like 1905 for the atmosphere. And Granville Moore's for the mussels (but, admittedly, it's been a while). I think RedRocks in Columbia Heights is good for these sort of things too -- you can sit outside in nice weather, but inside feels cozy and romantic for a pizza place. Anyway, all of these are definitely on the casual side of the scale. Eatonville might suit your needs if you wanted something a little nicer (i.e. not a bar).

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What in the world are "patriotic critter pants?": My former U.K. dwelling self is thinking stars and striped ladies underwear, but that can't possibly be correct?

Fritz: Pants from Vineyard Vine or J. Crew or similar that are embroidered with whales, turtles, lizards, aardvarks -- very popular among the "I want to look like I summer in Nantucket" set.

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Bladensburg waterfront?: But the poster said "the Potomac" not the Anacostia?! Direct him/her to Jack's Boat House if they really want the Potomac.

Rhome: Okay, okay... for accuracy's sake. But I had to big up Bladensburg because the price is a steal, and despite the river's bad rep, you can see all kinds of cool wildlife.

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Alexandria, Va.: Perhaps not the greatest place to hang out, but the bar at the Legal Seafoods in Crystal City makes a good Dark 'n Stormy (with Goslings and Barritts).

Fritz: That's a pretty legit D&S. Never would have thought of Legal.

Thanks.

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Friendly place if you're alone and 40: Don't know if the person is much of a baseball fan, but I go to Nats games by myself all the time and have a lot of fun. I am female and 50. Lots to watch (game, people) and pretty friendly people all around you. I can always strike up a conversation with someone. And, although it's kind of a secret, people-watching at a game is a fun pastime.

Julia: A great idea! My friends left me for like 3 innings the other day and lucky for me, there were these dudes behind me who were a lot of fun and let me jump into their conversations. (They were also drinking Bud Light Lime without shame, which I find astonishing).

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Founding Farmers: Curious. I have never been in there while crowded (Maybe 5 times now, one of the reasons I kept going back.) Maybe I was just hitting some fluky down times? (I'm really never lucky this way so I'm feeling good now!)

Fritz: Yeah, I'm nowhere near as lucky as you with Founding Farmers. Drinks are great, waiting is not.

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Smoking at hookah bars: I was under the impression that if a place generated more than %25 of sales from tobacco, then it was fully exempt, meaning all tobacco products could be sold or not.

Either way I have never seen any of the hookah bars in DC stop someone from cigarette smoking.

Fritz: Let me make a few phone calls and I will have a legit answer on the blog. Promise.

However, if a hookah bar wants to say "no cigarettes," that's perfectly within their rights, the way that other places can say "no cigars."

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Chinatown: Hey GOGs -- What's going on in town tomorrow (Friday) that might be fun for a day off?

Anne: The goofiest thing I've heard of in a while is this: a life-size carving of Abraham Lincoln in a 1,000-pound block of cheese. And you can only see it for three hours tomorrow. And there will be cameras on site for you to take pictures and tell people to say....

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Why I'm not friendly on metro: That's because tourists and other non-savvy metro riders are impeding my path and therefore wasting my time by standing on the left on escalators, blocking the metro doors, trying to put in their farecards on gates that are clearly marked with the red circle/white dash. If tourists do their research, pay attention to signs and announcements, and have basic common sense, I could be friendlier on metro. Otherwise, get out of my way, I have to get to work!!!

Fritz: Seconded. I try. I really do.

Stephanie: Maybe it's because the stops by my apartment aren't very tourist-heavy so I'm less worked up about this issue, but I've found a little "excuse me, sorry I'm in a rush!" goes a long way. At least, it's easier than getting myself all worked up. I guess I also figure that we're all tourists sometimes, and I wouldn't want a Londoner/Parisian/Seattlite/whatever giving me the evil eye because I didn't know any better.

Rhome: I really need to get this off my chest. If y'all (you know who you are) don't stop crowding the doors when I'm trying to exit the train, I'll just have to start randomly Zidane-ing folks. I'm so sincere. And as a frequent traveler, I find that paying attention to my surroundings, knowing how to walk in a crowd, following social cues and actually READING signs goes a long way towards not being annoying when I'm away from home on public transportation.

Julia: I'm with Steph. Once again, I think we could all cut the tourists some slack. (Everyone who actually knows me is likely shocked with my mellow live-and-let-live-man vibe in recent chats).

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Meeting people: Folklife festival, especially the musical acts. People aren't shy about asking others to dance. If nothing else, you can comment on the musician/who's coming up next/whatever.

Julia: A vote for Folklife!

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Arlington: Help! We want to do something nice for our folks, who will be celebrating their 40th anniversary at the end of the month. About 10 people, some from in town, some from out. Thanks!

Julia: Would they like tickets to a play? My parents love that kind of thing. If you're looking for dinner, give me some specifics -- area of town? kind of food?

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Murlin: Which Gurus voted for Natty Boh as best beer? I want to thank you personally.

Fritz: Me, Julia and Stephanie had National Bohemian at the top of our Cheap Domestic Beer Taste Test. (Yes, if you were listening to NPR yesterday morning, they were talking about the Gurus researching cheap beer. Such an honor.)

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D.C. Folks: I'm from Baltimore and, at least when I was a kid, Baltimoreans were always nicer than most other folks I met. DC today isn't as nice as some in Baltimore were then, but they are far nicer than people in a number of other cities in which I've lived. I for one left the Midwest after 4 years of college and look forward to not going back. Perhaps the Midwestern city I lived in was some sort of exception, but I don't think so. The clear message that I got was we're friendly if you seem like us but if you're different at all we're going to be distant at best. I've had more gracious welcomes in legendarily reserved Maine. There are good people everywhere and their are not so good people everywhere. If you walk around with siege mentality thinking that most people are mean, then the likelihood is that you won't recognize when people are being nice. You'll dismiss them as the exceptions when in fact, they are the rule.

Julia: More excellent principles to live by from the chatters.

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Capitol Fourth Dress rehearsal: Hey GOGs! I'd like to go to the Capitol Fourth dress rehearsal tomorrow to avoid the madness on Saturday. When should I turn up on the Capitol Lawn to catch the act?

And thanks for the map of fireworks viewing areas -- it's a handy tool for those of us who'd rather poke ourselves in the eye than get trampled by crowds on the Mall. Has anyone seen the fireworks from the National Cathedral site? Is it any good? I'd like to avoid as much chaos and Metro insanity as possible.

Thanks!

Anne: I have to be honest -- I was disappointed when I went to watch there one year. The Cathedral's viewing area by the Peace Cross is pretty narrow sliver of sky. If you're really tall, or standing in exactly the right spot andno one's in front of you, then you will see some tiny sparkles. We're not talking stadium seating or a giant sloping lawn where everyone has equal viewing opportunities here. But it is a cute neighborhood scene.

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Rockville, Md.: Hey gurus, please help me choose: 5-year wedding anniversary next weekend and I'm contemplating pre-theater dining and a show. So my dilemma is: King Lear at the Shakespeare theater preceded by Cafe Atlantico or Spring Awakening at the Kennedy Center preceded by Marcel's? Thanks!

Julia: I can speak to dinner! If you want something exotic and exciting, hit Atlantico. (And get Jill Zimorski to make you a ridiculous cocktail!) If you want just classic, rich, good food, go to Marcel's.

Stephanie: First let me say that Atlantico is one of my favorite restaurants in D.C., so based solely on that, I'd do the Atlantico-Lear combo. As far as the plays go, I really don't think you can go wrong between Stacy Keach as Lear and the Tony-winner for best musical (in 2007). I do have some qualms about Awakening though, if only because Duncan Sheik did the music so every time I discuss the play, that cheesy song "Barely Breathing" gets stuck in my head.

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Mike W. (Dupont): I get out of work early today for the holiday and can actually take advantage of the happy hour specials in my 'hood. What's out there besides Front Page? Only need the specials to last until 7 p.m. Thanks.

Fritz: Around Dupont, I'm partial to the cheap beers at Lucky Bar and Sign of the Whale, the giant "King Kong" mugs at the otherwise drab Recessions, and tall glasses of gin-with-a-side-of-tonic while people-watching on the front patio of the Fox and Hounds.

Oh, and Science Club has discounted PBR and seats on the patio.

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Big Hunt: No, I definitely can understand that the little torn up pieces would be a mess, but I would never have left them sitting on the table or the floor (probably sounds like a lie, but it's true, my purse is full of little bits of trash that I don't leave places.) The point was just how incredibly rude the service was and how I was scolded like a 4 year old. Sorry if the guy was having a bad night, but I'll never go back and I just wondered if anyone else experienced such awful service there.

Fritz: Haven't ever gotten too many complaints about the Big Hunt. Sorry about your experience, though.

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McLean, Va.: Last week a reader asked the following question:

"Springfield, Va.: I've been to Iota a few times to see the Sunday afternoon show when Last Train Home is performing. Are there any other clubs in the area that feature earlier shows. I love watching live music, but as I get older those 10pm shows are getting harder to handle. I'm hoping that there is something out there besides Wolftrap that fits the bill."

I wanted to let you know that Last Train Home is in fact performing an afternoon show this Sunday, July 5 in McLean Central Park located at the corner of 123 and Old Dominion (minutes from 495 and the GW Parkway). Not only is it an afternoon show, but it's also free! The concert will start at 3 p.m. and is presented by the Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center. These free concerts continue every Sunday in July. Picnics and pets are welcome!

Fritz: Can't turn down a chance to recommend the always-excellent Last Train Home, can we? One of the finest Americana acts out there.

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Columbia Heights, D.C.: Can you give me more details on the NOMA summer screenings? What time I should get there, what time the movie and dj begins, can I bring alcohol to it?

Sounds like a fun time, just trying to get a sense of the scene since there's not much info on their website.

Thank you!

Fritz: DJ and barbecue start at 7, and the movie begins once it gets dark. I'd suggest arriving on the early side, getting some 'cue and listening to the DJs spin funk and soul music.

Hmmm. Sounds like a good first date to me...

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Cheap Beer question: Were there any other beers that underwent the test? In other words, which ones didn't even make it to the top list?

Fritz: Nah, we just stuck with six. Might have to do a second round, though, with Utica Club, Yuengling and Reading, among others.

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18th & S, NW: Two questions for y'all today. First, I just got back from an awesome trip to San Francisco. Went to this bar there called Amnesia that had AWESOME karaoke. Great songs, great emcees (who played air guitar/bass and cowbell with your song), and a stage to sing on and REALLY perform. It was AMAZING...anywhere here that does similar style of karaoke?

Also, it's my birthday today. Having drinks with friends to celebrate tomorrow at Nellies...but anything out of the ordinary going on tonight where I could go out with friends and celebrate being a year older?

Thanks!

Julia: I have to say. I'm generally disappointed in the karaoke offerings here. We should celebrate singing like that bar in San Francisco. The Kostume Karaoke folks do it up best, in my opinion. At least there's a sense of everyone being interested in the show . . . instead of just boozing and talking loudly until their names get called. It's on the schedule at Solly's for Wednesday, July 8th.

Happy Birthday! Check out Nightlie Agenda for some events tonight. I'm partial to the Michael Jackson tribute party. Yeah, MJ! Don't stop 'til you get enough, people!

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@ King Lear: Be forewarned - very graphic, very heavy version of King Lear. My boyfriend and I did something similar recently, and were very, very depressed walking home afterwards. It was stellar, just not uplifting.

Stephanie: Good point! Of course Awakening deals with some heavy topics as well. Either way, it could be a very dramatic anniversary!

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Maryland Suburbs: Any ideas about where to go for a low-key, family-friendly but fun 4th of July? I'm thinking good food, moonbounce and face-painting for the kids, fireworks... someplace in the country somewhere.

Anne: Moonbounce + face painting + fireworks + a long drive into the countryside -- check. Then Middleburg is the place for you. (What I think would make it fun: the pool and DJs.)

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washingtonpost.com: Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your long weekend if you have one. Have fun, be safe -- here's our Fourth of July package, it should have everything you need. See you back here next Thursday and remember -- GOG Happy Hour next Thursday at BLT Steak. Be there!

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The Going Out Gurus write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene. Check in with them throughout the week on the GOG Blog or join their live Q&A every Thursday at 1 p.m.

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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