Got Plans?: Labor Day, Buzz Reunion, Shakespeare Free For All, Birthday Dinners and Bottle Service

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The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, September 3, 2009; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff discussed Labor Day plans, the Buzz reunion, the Shakespeare Free For All, bottle service and birthday dinners on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. ET. We also asked you to tell us the strangest thing you've done for money.

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washingtonpost.com: We begin the chat with the seven words we know you all love to hear: we have free stuff to give away!To be more specific -- because we know you also adore specifics -- we're offering up two pairs of tickets to the Old Ebbitt Grill Block Party on Saturday. Each ticket is worth $75 and includes five food and five beverage tickets.Of course, you have to do something for us in order to win. In honor of the upcoming Labor Day weekend please tell us about the craziest thing you've ever done for money. (Rules: said crazy thing should not be illegal and/or too obscene for us to post in the chat.) The two chatters who tell us the most outlandish-but-true stories will be our winners. BTW, so those of you non-winners (losers ... such an ugly word) won't feel left out, we're also offering Going Out Guide readers a discount on Block Party tickets. If you buy tickets to the party and use the promo code GOGBLOCK09, you'll get a $10 discount, which makes those $75 tickets a mere $65. All that said, let's get started; bring on your weird-things-for-money stories, your weekend-planning questions and whatever else you've got.

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Labor Day -- Yay: Is Liv still happening at Bohemian Caverns? If not, what is a good substitute?

Fritz: Liv is the name of the upstairs venue at Bohemian Caverns, not a specific event. Are you thinking about Daylight, the Sunday afternoon/evening event with rare gooves, old funk, disco and great R&B? If so, that's happening from 7 p.m. on -- with two-for-one drinks and a free soul food buffet. (Seriously, the food is almost as good as the music.)

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Washington, D.C.: I'm going to the Shakespeare Free for All tomorrow night. I've never been before. What time do people start lining up for tickets? Do I need to get there super early?

Stephanie: I'm headed to the Free for All this weekend, too, and very excited about it. The good people over at Harman Hall actually recommend lining up three hours ahead of play time, even though they don't start handing out tickets until two hours before the curtain goes up. However, there is hope for latecomers as well -- 30 minutes before the show, the theater will release unclaimed reserved tickets.

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Adams Morgan: Hey there... so, I am pretty sure I am not alone in the "I used to live at Nation but couldn't tell you a thing about Ibiza" crowd. I still love to dance but am not privvy to the current -big- dance club scene. I lounge in my old age. What to expect at the buzz reunion this saturday?... i fear long lines and no entry... but I yearn for Scott Henry, Feelgood, John Tab, DUBTRIBE! Whoa! Thanks in advance.

Fritz: Ibiza is a huge three-room polished-up warehouse-style club, and most seats are usually reserved for bottle service. I'm hoping that those restrictions, like the dress code, will be relaxed this weekend. (After all, I don't see the OMG DUBTRIBE IS BACK TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!! crowd wanting to drop a few hundred bucks on bottles of Grey Goose, you know?

I've never had much problem getting into Ibiza for DJ events, but I always show up before midnight to avoid hassles. I expect that Buzzlife learned its lessons from the long lines during its stay at Fur, and Glow, which is the weekly trance party at Ibiza, does a pretty good job moving people inside.

But yeah, that lineup -- it's like Buzz circa 2000. So sweet.

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Washington, D.C.: Afternoon Gurus,

After some time away from D.C. I have finally returned and feel like I've missed out on a lot of cool new restaurant openings and need your supreme guidance. I am meeting a friend for dinner tonight who I haven't seen in a while so we want to be able to talk and catch up. We like all kinds of food but want to keep the price reasonable. Only other caveat is somewhere around a Red Line Metro in D.C. not Md. I was thinking Matchbox or Circa? Any suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated! I'm so happy to be back in D.C. for fall!!

Julia: Welcome back! How long have you been gone? I'd opt for Matchbox over Circa. If you're looking for other options, you could check out the pub-grub at the Cantina at Darlington House or the chicken at either Nando's (I'm not wild about the stuff, but plenty people around here are HUGE fans). It's a bit of a hike from the Metro, but I adore Regent Thai Cuisine for this sort of thing. Just had a catch-up dinner with a friend there this week! Posto and Cork are also a bit of a hike from the Red Line -- but good newcomers to have on your radar. Hope this helps!

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Virginia: Is there a cover for the LNS flip cup tourney Sunday night at Gin and Tonic?

Fritz: Nope. And there will be a couple of spots available at the door if anyone wants to sign up late.

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Boston, Mass.: Hey Gurus, I'm heading down to the D.C. area for a visit -- well, not just a visit. I'm meeting up with a guy who lives on the West Coast, to have sort of a romantic rendezvous while he is in town for business. I used to live in the area (for about 10 years), and I feel like I should be showing him a good time, but I moved a year ago and have fallen out of the loop. Most importantly, he has offered to get a nice hotel for us, and I think the last time I stayed in a hotel down there was an 8th grade field trip. Any suggestions? I don't want it to be super expensive or fussy, as we are in our 30s, but maybe with some character, in good area. Thanks!

Fritz: The Tabard Inn is chock full of character, though the rooms can be kind of small, and a lot of them have shared bathrooms.

For something more modern, the W would be a standard answer -- you'd have immediate access to that killer rooftop bar -- or the Donovan House on Thomas Circle, which has a great rooftop pool and bar, with DJs and hip parties most nights of the week.

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Washington, D.C.: Just clicked the link provided, think it's worth noting there is a cheaper ticket option if $65 is too rich for some of our blood.

Julia: It's true. Let me clarify something. The tickets we're giving away (and the tickets you can use the GOG code for) are the ones that include 10 vouchers, five of which can be used for food and five for drinks. On Tuesday, the Clyde's Group decided to offer a $25 ticket, which only includes the entry fee. If you get the $25 ticket, you can buy food and drink tickets for $5 apiece. So, I guess it's up to you to decide how much you want to drink and/or eat to determine which ticket you want to buy!

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Washington, D.C.: OK. Who is "Buzz?" A bunch of my friends are going to Ibiza Nightclub this weekend for a "Buzz Reunion." I moved to the metro area two years ago, so I missed this whole Buzz era I am told. Have any insight?

David: Buzz is not a band or a person ... BUT A WAY OF LIFE. Well, not really. But maybe. At least for some people. It was the best electronic music dance night in the city, arguably the country, during its '90s run at Nation. Every top flight DJ in the world stopped through, but it was the local talent/resident DJs that served as the foundation, and a bunch of those acts -- Scott Henry, Feelgood, John Tab -- will be spinning at Ibiza on Saturday. Dubtribe Soundsystem and Fort Knox Five will also be there. Should be a good time.

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Dupont Circle: Hello GOGs. Which bars are GUARANTEED to be showing the Brazil/Argentina World Cup qualifier on Saturday night? I don't want to get there and have them be showing college football or a Nats game. Thanks.

Fritz: The only place I've checked with that will 100 percent guarantee they'll have it is Summers. Apparently the satellite provider wants a bunch of money, so they're charging $20 at the door for all the South American qualifiers (Peru vs. Uruguay, Colombia vs. Ecuador, Argentina vs. Brazil and Chile vs. Venezuela). I can't see Lucky Bar charging that much to get in at 8:30 on a Saturday night, you know?

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Actually recommend lining up three hours ahead of play time, even though they don't start handing out tickets until two hours before the curtain goes up: I missed last year's "Shrew" and would have gladly paid for it so I was going to try to do the Free for All. Any chance on them in the future putting these online on the off chance that I can't take off work to go wait on line for 3 hours for tickets? They could put each days show online 2 hours before the show instead of at the box office. It's this thing called the Internet and it's really quite amazing.

Stephanie: Well the popularity is really going to depend on the night. A Saturday will probably be crazier than a Tuesday performance, when (I assume) tickets will be easier to come by. You can also try going 30 minutes before, as I mentioned. But this is the first year they're doing the Free for All indoors, so it will probably take a while for them to work out the kinks in the ticketing system.

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What I'd do for money: Don't know if this is interesting enough for the GOG chat, but camping out a night on the wild D.C. streets to save a place in line for my former bosses' triplets to get into elementary school. Was worth it for $100 about 10 years ago. Not sure I would do it now...

Rhome: Not so extreme, but opens an interesting look into worker/management relations.

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Washington, D.C.: Dear GOGs:

Where can one play darts in the district?

Yours truly,

Missing Darts

Fritz: If you want a good game, try the Black Rooster or Buffalo Billiards. Bedrock has some good players, too. There are weekly tournaments all over the area -- check out the Washington Area Darts Association at www.wadadarts.org for a schedule.

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Re: Tabard Inn: Their penthouse room is great, and has a private bathroom. It's super romantic in a rustic sort of way. I stayed there on my wedding night. Nuff said.

Fritz: One vote for the Tabard, if our friend from Boston is looking for a honeymoon-quality weekend.

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Birthday dinner: Where would you recommend for a birthday dinner with the following requirements: Metro accessible, three women who don't want to spend a lot of money but want a great wine list and/or inventive cocktails, and one vegetarian? We're pretty open to cuisine. Would prefer to be able to make reservations. Weeknight.

Thanks for any help!

Julia: Okay, well, first let me take this opportunity to point you toward our list of restaurants that are extending Restaurant Week-type specials. This may help you save money, but may also be rough for the vegetarian....

Cork jumped to mind, but of course, there is the reservation issue. How about Urbana, Sei (can get pricey), Oyamel, Eventide or Talulla?

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Baltimore, Md.: I'm headed to a bachelorette party in D.C. and was looking for some planning advice. There are about 8 of us, late 20s staying at the Topaz hotel. We're looking to bar-hop and hopefully find ourselves some stupid men to buy us drinks. Someone suggested the Adams Morgan strip for this sort of revelry. Any suggestions in particular? Thanks!

Fritz: Yeah, Adams Morgan is pretty much bachelorette central if you're looking for guys who want to buy drinks for wild-and-crazy girls. Town Tavern should be on your list. And the DJ spinning upstairs at Draft Pix. Tom Tom, too. And Peyote Cafe for karaoke.

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Washington, D.C.: Any suggestions for Labor Day activities? I am sure there are a lot, but do the GOGs have a top activities to check out list for Labor Day?

Anne: For the weekend overall? Yep, we do. For more ideas, you can search Labor Day.

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Free For All: Am I the only one who is sad that the Free For All isn't at the Carter Barron anymore? I saw both Pericles and Hamlet there and both times it was such wonderful experience. There's just something really cool about Shakespeare under the stars. That won't stop me from going this year, though. I'm a huge Willie fan and Shrew is one of my favorites. It's just a little bit of a letdown.

Stephanie: That's understandable. On the plus side, the shows are no longer weather-dependent and you won't get any mosquito bites, but I hear you and your nostalgia. You should check out Olney Theatre (though you'll have to wait until next year) and Greenbelt Arts Center; they are both carrying on the outdoor Shakespeare tradition.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus, I was checking out the info for the Old Ebbitt Block Party this weekend and had a couple of questions. First, your thoughts on whether it's worthwhile? And two, WP review says food/drink tickets will be $5 (if you purchase the $25 admission ticket), but the Old Ebbitt site doesn't have a price for food tickets. Is that correct?

Julia: It is indeed correct. I spoke with David Moran, managing director at the Ebbitt, and he's the one who gave me that $5 price.

Do I think it's worthwhile? I mean, this is the first block party the Old Ebbitt has thrown so it's hard to gauge. The Oyster Riot (their long-running November party) is a reliable good time, so precedent indicates this should be fun. My take is that if you like the bands playing, the block party would be a sweet way to spend an afternoon/evening.

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Need a Tan, D.C.: Gurus! Are any of the hotel swimming pool parties still going? I heard that the Capitol Skyline's last one was this past weekend? Please advise!!!

Fritz: Last Brightest Young Things party of the year at the Skyline, which I will be very sorry to miss, is THIS Saturday. And the Liaison Hotel's rooftop Adult Swim, which I recently wrote about, is also going strong this Sunday.

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Embarrassed: I'm a regular reader of the GOGs, which makes this question even more embarrassing -- what actually is "bottle service"? Is it just paying too much for a bottle of liquor so that you have the privilege of sitting at a nice table?

Fritz: Yeah, that's the gist of it. You usually get priority admission and free entry for you and a certain number of guests, depending on the size of the table.

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Toronto, Ontario: Hey. First off -- crazy thing for money -- I was paid by a Realtor to camp out, in the dead of winter in Toronto (no small feat), 24/7 for 22 days (and 4 hours if anyone's counting) to make the Realtor first in line to buy a condo in a spanking new building. Just had relief for three 30-minute breaks per day. The cash wasn't even close to worth it.

Now, I'm coming into to town this weekend, and want a neat, unique place for a reasonably priced meal. Ideas?

Julia: Hahaha. To answer your question, I'd scope out Eatonville for Southern-inspired food or and of the birthday dinner suggestions I listed above.

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Washington, D.C.: What's the story with Birch and Barley....will they ever open?

Fritz: Ever since the spring, when yet another deadline passed, I have sworn that I'm not talking about the place until they actually pass their inspections and are set to open their doors. I mean, how many times did the "no really, this is it" deadline for H St. Country Club/Pizzeria Paradiso/etc. come and go with no progress?

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Semi-scandalous: Smoked a Cheeto...like crushed it up and put it in a -tabacco- pipe. I've never looked a Chester Cheetah the same...

Stephanie: There are no words...

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Re: For Money: I have epilepsy and I lost my driver's license in Connecticut due to seizures one January. I lost my job and was denied unemployment because "I couldn't work in the entire job market area". So I wrote to the governor of Connecticut, then hitchhiked to Hartford to see the governor. Of course, I didn't get to see her, but I saw one of the governor's assistants and she changed the unemployment decision.

Julia: Wow. This only tangentially applies to our contest, I think, but I admire your persistence!

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Silver Sprung, Md.: Seriously, the craziest thing we have done for money and it can't be illegal or risque??? All of my wildest for money stories are either illegal or too saucy for WaPo.

Rhome: Sorry, miscreant. This might not be the right chat for you. We're respectable folk 'round here.

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Need a Tan, Too: Is the Spike'd Sundays over? I've never figured out how to find up-to-date info on the Skyline Pool. Thanks.

Fritz: Spike'd Sundays is actually going on until the end of September, weather permitting. (If it gets really cold, I don't think they'll be running, you know?)

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Crystal City, Va.: While finishing my undergraduate degree I was living with few grad students (Ex-Phys Majors). One had asked me if I wanted to help him with his thesis work and earn 50 bucks a session while at it. All I had to do was ride a stationary bike, and run on a treadmill for an hour or so while viewing various images and short film (piece of cake). Being poor and easily swayed, I agreed without further inquiry. What I came to find out, and what he conveniently failed to mention, was that the study was centered around internal core temperature of the body while exercising. Meaning that while I rode this bike, and ran on the treadmill, they had me "use" a rectal thermometer to accurately record my core temp. So for the next week everyday after class I walked, rode and ran around with a wire hanging out my bum. It was an uncomfortable week to say the least. However it did manage to allow the purchase of enough booze to wash away the memory and shame. Barely. Your welcome Kevin.

Julia: This one may very well have my vote.

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Alexandria, Va.: My wife and I would like to listen and dance to some Big Band Era -- any suggestions?

Fritz: Next weekend at Glen Echo: SingCo Rhythm Orchestra at the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom. Should be an amazing night. And Jean Veloz, the star of some of my favorite 1940s dance clips, will be in the house.

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Silver Spring, Md.: On the outdoor Shakespeare, Olney announced their bringing back Much Ado outside later this month.

ENCORE PRESENTATION OF NATIONAL PLAYERS' FREE SUMMER SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTION OF MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 AT 8 PM

Stephanie: You rule. Thanks for the intel!

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Montgomery County, Md.: What are your thoughts on who should pay for a date in the early part of a relationship? If a guy asks a girl out, is it just understood that he intends on paying? Do guys expect girls to offer to pay half? These things are always tricky in the beginning. So, I'm looking to you, Wise Gurus, for advice!

Rhome: Whomever does the asking does the paying.

David: I'd say the guy should pay the first time, always, no matter who did the asking. Maybe if you get drinks after dinner or something the girl can get a round there. Maybe.

Stephanie: I always offer to split the bill on the first date, but I don't think I've ever actually paid. After the first date though, I say splitting is the way to go.

Fritz: I agree with David. We're old fashioned.

But if we go somewhere after dinner and the girl asks if she can buy my first cocktail or glass of wine, I wouldn't say no.

Julia: You should say no, Fritz Hahn! It's a classy move. But yeah, I'm with Steph. I always offer to split the bill. And I have actually paid, but only once.

Rhome: Being that women almost never ask, I always do the paying anyway. But if you're bold (and smart) enough to be assertive, you can come up off some dough too!

Anne: I third the splitting. Why should the guy have to pay -- because we assume he earns more?

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Ashburn, Va.: It's suppose to be an amazing weekend....weather wise and wanted to know where the best place to dine outdoors would be?

Julia: Here are our favorite places. The roof at Eventide is lovely too.

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Craziest thing....: I entered a "Hot Body" contest at an under-21 dance club (I was 16 I think....I was so edgy back then.) Needless to say, I came away empty-handed.

David: Technically, this is the craziest thing you did for no money. Sorry, but we're a stickler for rules here at GOG.

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Falls Church: Hey Gurus -- This is the only online live chat I read. You all are great! So what would you recommend for a fifty-something girls get-together with a N.C friend in town? We all grew up in Clarendon, so we'd like to go there. Can't be too loud or smoky and we all drink! Outdoor seating would be nice and maybe open late would be helpful, too. Any takers?

Julia: OMG, not to be all about Eventide today, but I really think that one would be a nice spot for you. Or Eatbar. I had a great night eating cheese by myself there the other day -- not as pathetic as it sounds -- and I was reminded how much I dig the place.

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Thank heavens this is anonymous: OK, at age 15, lied to parents, said I was at friend's house. Instead, boyfriend and I camped out (well, we had a blanket) in a parking lot in a very scetchy neighborhood (in Chester, PA) for Stones tickets. On one side of us in line was a woman smoking crack. On the other, a dude smoking meth (they told me, I would not have known). The parking lot was filled with very inebriated people. Yes, I perhaps indulged in some very mild illegal substances (really, was very scared to even be near the hard stuff), but only so that the very aggressive people in line ("What do you mean no, you won't share a joint? What is the matter with you??") wouldn't mug me for my money (I thought). Yes, this was 20+ years ago, I was dangerously naive, and had a wad of cash for the tickets. Anyway, all these people were actually not out to mug me, the night went fine, but after all that, we got crappy tickets because brokers skimmed off the top and bought all the good ones. Still a good show, though (at the Vet!).

David: Wait, this is something crazy you did to spend money. Good story, but DISQUALIFIED.

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Bethesda, Md.: Any chance that BUZZ's return will become an on going event/parties to be continously held at Ibiza, or any other pad for that matter? I've never been to Ibiza, but LOVED and was a weekly reg while held at Nation. Is there any venue, as large and as opened spaced as Nation that might bring BUZZ back?

Fritz: I mean, they tried Buzz at Fur for a while. Didn't work out. I don't know if they'll move into Ibiza. It might make sense, since Glow, the big trance night that had been at Ibiza on Saturdays, moved back to Fur when Buzz ended. (It's like nightclub roulette.) I actually think Ibiza is more similar to the old Nation venue than Fur was -- fewer rooms, bigger/better outdoor area for DJs -- but there's no announcement.

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Washington, D.C. : How do you decide at what venues to host the Going Out Guru parties? Are there any upcoming? The last one I heard about I couldn't attend I think it was at Current a few months back. Thanks!

Anne: We like to pick places we like, but also places that work with the season. And these days, we pick places that can hold a crowd. Have some ideas about where we should go next? Definitely, let us know! Our happy hours are always the second Thursday of the month, so if you have joined us since April, come see us at Public Bar next Thursday.

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Dog lover in Silver Spring, Md.: Do you have a list of restaurants or bars that welcome dogs?

Also, this may not really be a GOG question but is there a general policy on bringing dogs into stores? I heard that unless they serve food or have a specific "no pets" sign on the front door, that it should be allowed -- but never wanted to run the risk of being shunned or publicly embarrassed by trying this out. Thanks!

Julia: We have a great list of doggie happy hours, but alas, not a great list of pet-friendly restaurants. Art & Soul welcomes four-legged friends, as does Jackson 20. I think your pretty safe on most places with patios. I have to say, I'd be too afraid to bring a dog into a store, but I'm not a dog owner. Chatters -- any guidance?

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Metro Center, D.C.: Hi Gurus!

Trying to plan a solo Saturday -- interested in taking advatage of the hopefully nice weather a bit, and maybe some museums -- any suggestions?

Thanks!

Stephanie: If you want to get some sun, I'd say go for a bike ride or pack a picnic and head to a park. I had a picnic/tea party at Montrose Park (next to Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown) last weekend and it's my new favorite spot. As for museums, the Craft Invitational at the Renwick is pretty sweet, and you might want to check out Introductions 5 and Paint Made Flesh, which won't be around much longer.

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Bottle Service: I used to think Bottle Service was just for the very snobby or very rich but lately I've changed my tune. From a pure economic standpoint my friends and I now think it's the best way to go. A bottle of Grey Goose costs on average $300 (with Bottle Service) and you get about 18 drinks out of it plus you get up to 8 friends in free, priority entrance, and spot to chill at the whole night plus most clubs will throw in a free bottle of champagne which is another 6 or so drinks. The cost of cover for 8 people is anywhere from $10 to $20. So 8 people could be anywhere from $80 - $160 for cover + about $240 for the same amount of drinks at the bar. It usually comes out to be about the same. It's very worth it and most promoters/clubs are throwing good deals around with lots more free alcohol included.

Fritz: My friends and I have been doing the math for a while, and there are some clubs where it really makes sense to get bottles -- especially if there's only a $300 or so minimum instead of the huge $500-$600 table guarantees that promoters wanted a couple of years ago.

Rhome: This thrifty bit of arithmetic is a smart approach and I can definitely dig it from a financial standpoint. My issues with bottle service are more about how it's made nightclubbing corny. More bottle service real estate takes away from dance floor and mingling space. Lots of bottle service customers don't really contribute to the energy of the party. They often sit there and look bored and only stick with their group. It's the same thing as people paying a premium to be in VIP not having fun. Not saying this is you, but this is the perspective of a DJ and dancer who has watched bottle service culture grow over the last 10 years.

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Crazy for money: I worked as a bartender at a TGIFriday's in suburban Cincinnati...for THREE YEARS. Wait, is that crazy or just sad?

Thank goodness for grad school.

David: This one got some lulz in the office. Do bartenders have to wear all those buttons or is it just the servers? Roughly how many little league teams did you see come through doing those three years?

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: I cleaned my boyfriend's house from top-to-bottom for some good cash. He was going to pay someone else to do it but I could use the money so he agreed to let me for the same amount. He spent most of the time working on his computer while I dusted under his feet and didn't hold back on the criticism of the things he didn't like. This isn't crazy so much as a mildly disturbing dynamic between my boyfriend and me. And probably a little bit disturbing to all the feminists out there as well. If he's going to pay someone to do it it might as well be me (we don't live together in case you're wondering. THAT would be weird.)

Julia: No judgments here. I was actually a maid for this friend of mine senior year in college. He was going to pay some [witchy] sophomore to do it, so I offered. Best cash I ever made. Except he used to play "In Da Club" on repeat when I was over.

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Dog question: I feel like it depends on the size of the dog. If you can easily carry your dog around, I don't think most store owners mind, especially in boutiques. That said, I would never take my dog into a fancy furniture or antique store.

Julia: Thanks for this. Like most things, I feel like if you do it with confidence, no one will say anything. For me though, I'd probably get all sheepish and peek my head in and ask the owner/manager/whoever if it was okay.

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Reston, Va.: Hi,

Fiance just told me we're on a spending hiatus till wedding. I don't want to spend the long weekend sitting on my couch though. Any suggestions?

Fritz: Dozens of local theater companies are previewing upcoming plays and musicals all weekend at the Kennedy Center's Page to Stage festival. The National Symphony Orchestra is playing on the Capitol's West Lawn on Sunday. Glen Echo is home to a festival of Irish music and dancing, plus a art show with hundreds of works all weekend.

As a reminder, I write a column called "Free and Easy Events" every week that you can find in the Sunday paper (in the Arts section) and on the blog on Saturday mornings. Always filled with free parties, cultural events and such.

(But honestly, I don't understand people who have to go on spending freezes until their weddings -- and yes, I've had friends do this. Isn't that the first sign that maybe your wedding costs too much and you should scale back?)

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D.C. hotels: My husband and I stayed at the Helix hotel recently when we scored an overnight sitter for the little ones (yay for grandma!) It was a fabulous room and the location was very close to Logan Circle/U Street area hot spots.

Fritz: More hotel advice.

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CPDC: Next weekend I'm sending my husband and some friends to brew beer for his birthday. (I got the idea from a Guru chat a few weeks ago - thanks!!) He wants to get lunch at Ray's Hell Burger beforehand. I've heard there can be long wait times - does anyone know what the wait is generally like at noon or 1pm on a Saturday? Thanks!

Julia: I think it can vary. The owner has been reporting long wait times since Mr. Obama's visit, but still, I've never had to wait more than a half hour there. If you budget that in on a weekend, I think you should be fine.

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Arlington, Va.: This isn't so much a 'going-out' question, per say, but maybe more of a 'going-in' question. How does one ride a bike with that type of thermometer? Just sayin'....

Julia: Standing?

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Washington, D.C.: A very good friend of mine has been busting his butt at work and I'd like to treat him to a nice steak dinner next weekend in Arlington where he lives.

I'm in Silver Spring and mainly hang out in D.C. so I'm clueless when it comes to Arlington. I'm looking for a casual place where we can sit back and talk about anything other than work. Thanks!

Stephanie: Ray's the Steaks should work for both the vibe and the food.

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Feminist here: No problem with you taking his money. Now if you were wearing a French Maid costume and his buddies got to watch.....

Julia: Yeah, that was my main argument for why I should get the job over the sophomore. She was probably going to look all cute in her cleaning outfit; my work would be better. (Even at 21, such pride....)

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Dupont: Does the new Paradiso in Dupont have the same happy hour as the Georgetown location (Half price drafts Tue/Wed 5-7pm)? Thanks!

Fritz: Yes. Apparently they thought about doing alternate nights in Dupont, but decided that we all have to choose one bar or the other. For me, that's going to be a game-time decision based on the beer lists posted on eatyourpizza.com.

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Eastern Market: I'm coming down to D.C. in a few weeks for my -- gasp! -- 40th birthday and would like to explore Eastern Market. Any recommendations on restaurants for lunch afterwards? Reasonably priced, anything but Indian or Cajun. Thanks!

Julia: Cava, Lola's or the Matchbox on Barrack's Row are all worth exploring.

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Alexandria, Va.: I counted people using a convenience path in Central Park.

Julia: For whom?

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Dogs in Va.: I can't speak for Silver Spring, but NOVA is rather dog friendly. I've found that most stores in Clarendon are pretty friendly, but Old Town is by far the friendliest. Just about every store will allow dogs in and they have bowls and treats available for them. Most restaurants will also allow dogs on the patio - and some of doggie menus as well.

However, as much as I love my dog, I understand that not everyone does and I do my best to ensure she doesn't bug people. If gets too demanding or messy, we leave. It's like having a toddler in that respect -- the other people there don't want my dog slobbering on them.

Julia: Totally.

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Beer brewing?: Can you refresh my memory? This would be great for my husband. Thanks!!

Julia: Here you go!

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Rufus the Dog: Hotel Monaco is a great place to take your dog if you are in Chinatown. Also Rosa Mexicano is dog friendly and most of the cafes in Georgetown are very dog friendly -- Dupont Circle is hit or miss on how they like four paws. In regard to stores I have a medium sized dog and as long as he is not acting up I take him everywhere (Coach, Urban Outfitters, Barnes & Noble) and I've never had a single shop owner complain.

Julia: Excellent -- thanks for the tips. Lots of dog-owners out there!

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What I Did For Money.: In college, because it was my roommate's birthday and I had no more textbooks left to sell back, I sold plasma. Which is a more time-consuming and painful experience than the ads in the student newspaper led me to believe. And I think I got $20 for it. But hey, it bought a couple pitchers of beer!

Julia: Those ads always looked so tempting.

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Washington, D.C.: I had a housesitting gig that turned into me taking care of 30 pet chickens for two nights at a palatial house on the East Coast. Worth the money at the time? No. Worth the money for the stories I can now tell about my chicken-sitting experience? Yes.

Julia: Wow. Seriously? Where was the house?

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Former Chicagoan: This is kind-of a confessional, but I was paid a dollar by my second grade classmate (who shall remain anonymous) to steal a handful Mrs. Weber's gummy bears from her desk during lunch. It was super risky, but I never got caught! Whew, feel better getting that off my chest.

Julia: Glad we could help.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: Thinking ahead for a birthday gift for a sweet tooth -- are there any chocolate classes/tastings/buffets or similar events coming up in September or October? Thanks in advance for helping me win extra girlfriend points!

Stephanie: The Botanic Garden does periodic classes about chocolate (including tastings). They're free, but you have to register in advance and spots go fast. Otherwise, you could head to Co Co Sala for a multi-course dessert (and dessert-inspired cocktails).

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PLEASE NO DOGS: There are LOTS of kids (and some adults) that are afraid and/or allergic to dogs. Please, please do not bring your dogs with you everywhere! We seriously have a long list of places where we cannot go with our son because people feel the need to bring their dogs with them! Not everyone loves your dog as much as you do...sorry to say.

Julia: The other point of view.

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Crystal City, Va.: Arlington, Va., and Julia: The sensor is small and the wire runs to a monitor recording temp (attached to a belt). Riding a bike is uncomfortable to say the least, you kind of favor one cheek or the other. Basically, it's all about finding your happy place, and staying there.

Julia: Illuminating, thanks.

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Pre-wedding spending freeze: We're TOTALLY scaled back, but he's a small business owner, and times are tight! Not financing a THING for the wedding, so we're about to come out of pocket a few hundred on the rings. Makes sense to not run off to the beach this weekend, I suppose. (Btw, wedding's only a few weekends away!!)

Not that it matters, but had to justify myself. :-)

Julia: No worries, girl. I respect where you're coming from!

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All about the Jeffersons: I was a little kid growing up in the D.C. suburbs when the infamous 17-year cicadas came and basically covered everything outdoors. My mom paid me 5 cents for every shoebox full of cicadas and spent cicada shells that I scooped off the carport and patio, and tossed over the neighbor's fence.

Julia: Love it!

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RE chicken sitting: On Long Island. I kid you not, the house had an indoor, in-ground pool but they also kept 30 chickens as pets in their basement. During the day they roamed free around the property, but at night they all came home out of fear of getting eaten by a fox. I had to corral them into their respective coops at night. Nuts doesn't even begin to describe it.

Julia: Amazing!

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washingtonpost.com: All right, the chat has come to an end. And the winners in our doing-crazy-stuff-for-money contest are ... the Chicken Sitter and the Cicada Collector. (By the way, "The Cicada Collector," from Dimension Entertainment, is coming soon to a theater near you.)To claim your fabulous prizes, please e-mail your full name, e-mail and phone numbers to events@washingtonpost.com and we'll set you up.See you here next week at 1 p.m. In the meantime, enjoy a safe, relaxing Labor Day weekend.

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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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