The location of the Democratic Central Committee's election night party, which was given in the Oct. 29 Weekend section, has been changed. The gathering will take place at Reggie's Sportz Kafe at 4881 Glenn Dale Rd., just off Route 450 in Bowie. For more information, call the DCC's Prince George's County coordinating committee at 301-322-2750. (Published 11/2/04)
HE WILD night is coming. No, not Halloween: election night.
Washington is a party town, and ready or not, we have a date with democracy. It's a two-party town, in fact, or three or even more, if you're really inclusive; and as Election Day looms, the buzz gets louder: Where will you be when the votes are counted? Alone at home with your Boston Chicken or Texas Bar-B-Que Factory carryout? That was baseball; this is the big ball of wax. Presidential ballot-counting is a social as well as a political institution, and you should be celebrating with your peers. Why do you think they call them popular elections? Besides, if the voting does go against you, you'll have a support group ready at hand.
It could be a long night, however, so before we send you out a-counting, we'd like to beg a little common courtesy, not to mention common sense. A lot of bars are extending happy-hour prices or drink specials throughout the night, so choose a designated driver or use public transportation. The majority of these events are Metro-handy (although the system will not be running on an extended schedule, so you'll have to watch the clock). Most are nonpartisan gatherings, so try to practice the civility Beltway insiders are so famous for. Finally, remember that just because the TVs in the bar are on at those Power Alley restaurants -- Zola, 701, Oval Room, McCormick & Schmick's, District ChopHouse, Bistro d'Oc, Capital Grille, Oceanaire, Ceiba, etc. -- that doesn't mean that patrons in the dining rooms need their conversations punctuated by screaming. They'll have their cell phones for that.
According to the old saying, people vote with their feet, and that can mean moving to a dance beat. At the Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW; 202-667-7960), videographer-mixmaster Robin Bell and DJ Spooky will be reframing the political debate right before your eyes, instantaneously deconstructing and remixing election returns from the various TV networks (plus a little canned footage "for context") while providing a move-and-groove soundtrack to encourage a civil exchange of ideas ($12).
The 9:30 club (815 V St. NW; 202-393-0930) and WHFS (99.1 FM) are hosting a big Rock the Vote fundraiser with hip-hop hosts the Poem-Cees fronting as election results roll on the big screen and a very special DJ set from Bob Mould. VIP tickets ($25) get you real chairs, but the rest of it, including drink specials and major celeb sightings, is only $12. MCCXXIII (1223 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-822-1800) is hosting another Rock the Vote benefit but this one goes really swanky; admission is $50 under 21 and $75 over, which includes an open bar and food, dancing, a five-computer "blog cafe" for instant tracking, a dozen DJs, and glimpses of even more celebs (hint: check local concert listings). Expect both security and posse details. The red carpet is only for the VIPs and those who ponied up in advance to get their pictures made there, so mind your p's and queues.
Speaking of VIPs, and Veeps, the Republican National Committee will be hosting its party, including its own musical guests, in the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Because of the expected crush of cameras, etc., only a limited number of free tickets will be distributed just before Election Day; visit www.gop.com for details.
The Dems' biggest guns will be in Boston, but the party loyal can join the Democratic Central Committee and the Prince George's County campaign coordinating office at a watch-the-results party in the Student Union of Prince George's Community College in Largo starting at 8 with refreshments (donations requested to offset costs; call 301-322-2750 for information).
Felix and its Spy Lounge (2406 18th St. NW; 202-483-3549) are hosting an election night soiree with an open bar from 6 to 7; free nibbles from 6 to 8; drink specials, including red, white or blue martinis; a three-course dinner for $25; and live jazz by Johnny Combs to soothe the savage breast.
Need more humorous soothing? The Self-Righteous Brothers, featuring longtime local faves Peter Bonta, Rico Petrocelli and Robbie Magruder plus Kenny Wilson, who says he's going to announce his 2006 congressional candidacy at the show, will be playing at the Alexandria Old Town Theater (815 King St.; 703-683-8888) while election results roll on the movie screen behind the band ($15 includes snacks and cash bar). Velvet Lounge (915 U St. NW; 202-462-3213) is bringing in punkster-satirists the Political Blockheads to rock while the numbers roll; admission is $6, but bring your own (preferably expendable) television between 8 and 9 and get in free. No prize for screen size.
And when it comes to swimming with the sharks, political comedy troupe Gross National Product dares to bare its teeth: Its election night performances of "Son of a Bush, or Kerry the Vote" will have sharks, piranhas, gators and blowfish as a backdrop -- as well as subject matter -- thanks to the tanks at the National Aquarium in the basement of the Department of Commerce building at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. The Reef Room off to the side will be a "press conference center," with cast members on hand and the election returns rolling till 1. Shows at 8 and 10 ($35 includes appetizers; 202-783-7212).
In this town, "the bar" is far more than a legal institution, and not surprisingly, bars with big screens will be going loud and strong. None is bigger -- it has one 120-inch HDTV and a number of regular ones -- or better located than the fed-head favorite Exchange (1719 G St. NW; 202-393-4690), which is just down the street from the Old Executive Office Building and the White House and surrounded by various government agencies. Last election it was a heavily Democratic crowd, and a highly emotional one, at that; but owner Jim Nicopoulos points out that the territory has changed hands.
Georgetown's Blue Gin (1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-965-5555) won't have its prestigious upstairs room open -- it's been booked by a federal department much in the news and low on the visibility screen -- but the bar and dance floor downstairs will be open.
The D.C. Society of Young Professionals is hosting a nonpartisan returns party at Tequila Grill (1990 K St. NW; 202-833-3640) from 7:30 to 11:30; the cost of advance tickets ($10 from www.dcyoungpro.com) comes back in the form of food and drink discounts.
Stetson's (1610 U St. NW; 202-667-6295) plans to keep its six screens going as long as it takes and will pickup the tax tab on all food and drink, the equivalent of a 10 percent discount. And speaking of multi-screen exposure, Willie & Reed's in Bethesda (4901 Fairmont Ave.; 301-951-1100) has 22 TVs, including a mini-screen in the men's room -- but not in the women's room, which raises a timely gender issue, especially as more women, uh, vote.
Bars have also been operating as informal polls, though highly unscientific. The Hay-Adams Hotel's Off the Record bar (1 Lafayette Square; 202-942-7599), which has a political-junkie decor of caricatures and cartoons, is one of many Washington in-crowd establishments with a choice of partisan cocktails. Andale, Helix Lounge, Bar Rouge, the Sea Catch and the Henley Park Hotel's Blue Bar are all offering blue and red or elephant and donkey theme drinks. (Not too many bartenders invented green drinks, but you can always order a grasshopper.) Andale is celebrating Mexico's Day of the Dead simultaneously; insert your own punch line here.
The nonpartisan FairVote/Center for Voting and Democracy, which promotes election reform, is hosting a "couch pundit extravaganza" at the Big Hunt (1345 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-785-2333) with large-screen viewing, predict-the-swing-state vote contests and happy-hour prices all night ($10 donation requested).
Down in Arlington, Dr. Dremo's Taphouse (2001 Clarendon Blvd.; 703-528-4660) has been setting up a multi-ticket sampler of Old Halliburton Scottish Ale, Purple Heart Pale Ale and Ralph Nader Old Spoiler double IPA (plus the Marionberry lambic). Election results will be racing across the 10-foot screen downstairs and the several regular screens upstairs.
Capitol Hill has a vested interest in the election, of course, and the neighborhood is bound to be hopping. In fact, although we asked for consideration for diners, not all the pols and lobbyists really want to be cut off. The Caucus Room (401 Ninth St. NW; 202-393-1300) is not only rewiring the speakers in the bar, because debate night crowds couldn't hear well enough, it's setting up screens around the dining room as well and stocking up on champagne for civilly discounted toasting.
No bar has a better claim to bipartisan activities than Capitol Hill's venerable Hawk and Dove (329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-543-3300), which has been doing its own beer-balloting with Boston's Samuel Adams and Texas's Shiner Bock. Tuesday night it will put all five rooms to good use by featuring a different network's coverage in each room. "There's a lot of Chris Matthews fans, CNN fans, PBS fans," says manager Paul Meagher. "Not too many Fox fans."
Last time around, Capital Lounge (231 Pennsylvania Ave. SE: 202-547-2098) was a hotbed of young Hillies of both (buffalo) wings. If you can't find your group there either, the Pour House (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-546-1001) just up the street will be a sort of political sandwich, with the upper and lower levels booked for private parties and the middle level open for walk-ups. The regular Tuesday night trivia contest will have a special election-night slant, of course -- the sort of slant that recognizes Harry S. Truman not as the "buck stops here" prez but as the sheriff of "Twin Peaks." You've been warned.
DC for Democracy will be hosting a results-watching party at Marty's (527 Eighth St. SE; 202-546-4952) beginning at 8, which also functions as a thank-you to 40 Kerry volunteers flying back from Ohio. Ellington's on Eighth (424A Eighth St. SE; 202-546-8308) is laying out a Texas chili and New England clam chowder buffet, with entertainment by Mary Flannery and the Rio Garage Band. On the Senate side of the Hill, the three- or four-martini crowd will be gathering at the leather-booth Lounge 201 (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE; 202-544-5201), which is putting its entire martini menu on for $5, starting at 4, and cutting pizza prices in half; while its more casual co-tenant Red River Grill (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE; 202-546-7200) and Tortilla Coast (400 First St. SE; 202-546-6768) are both girded for TV action.
Dare to put your money where your mouth is? Several high-end restaurants are offering ballot-box menus on election night. At the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel (1330 Maryland Ave. SW; 202-554-8588), CityZen chef Eric Ziebold will offer one-night-only tasting menus for $90 (without wine) featuring some of the candidates' home-state dishes, such as barbecued Gulf shrimp salad and wine-braised short ribs for Bush and Nantucket Bay scallops and Chatham Bay cod for Kerry. On a more casual note, the Mandarin's Empress Lounge will show election returns on a giant screen while serving microbrews from Massachusetts and Texas and mini-pizzas to match. (And starting Nov. 9, when the results are -- we hope -- obvious, the hotel gallery will feature a partial mock-up of the Oval Office where you can take your picture.)
Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW; 202-547-8100) has been offering $20.04 three-course luncheon menus that "salute" each candidate -- grilled hanger steak with polenta and tomatillo salsa plus key lime pie for Florida-conscious Bush babies; phyllo-wrapped cod and Boston cream pie for Kerry kids. It's expanding that concept for election night to include $12 sampling plates that you can scarf while watching TV at the bar. The Kerry plate has a lobster corn dog and oyster po' boy sandwich, the Bush platter a petite burger on sesame seed brioche and Florida rock shrimp ceviche tacos, and there will be Massachusetts and Texas wines available by the glass.
Signatures (801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-628-5900) has four-drawer "ballot boxes," $35 bento box meals, including Kobe beef and cider-cured venison in the Grand Old Party box, or, for the Democratic Party, a sushi-style bagel roll, seared tuna and escolar. The Lafayette restaurant in the Hay-Adams (16th and H streets NW; 202-638-6600) is offering a couple of timely appetizers (Southwestern tortilla soup or Boston clam chowder, $8 each) and entrees (Celtics Cornish hen with Boston baked bean gratin for $25 and Texas-style bison strip steak with Crawford corn bread for $27).
There are more casual noshes available for vote counters, too. Brasserie Les Halles (1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-347-6848) is extending happy hour until closing, meaning half-price drinks and complimentary hors d'oeuvres, and bringing in an extra TV. J. Paul's in Georgetown (3218 M St. NW; 202-333-3450), which will turn over its big-screen TV to election coverage till 2, will also offer happy-hour-style cocktail specials and half-price appetizers all night. When a state goes Republican red, the nachos will come out on red tortilla chips; when a state goes Democratic blue, the chips will be blue, too.
For a couple of months now, Teatro Goldoni (1909 K St. NW; 202-955-9494) has been polling via partisan pizzas for political paisanos (did anyone ever order the Grover Cleveland?). The winning recipe will be announced when the polls close and the plasma screen warms up. And Martin's Tavern (Wisconsin Avenue at N Street NW; 202-333-7370), Georgetown's longtime hangout, has a $29.95 red-green-and-blue-plate special (salad, red snapper and blueberry cobbler) to while away the watching hours.
All seven Austin Grill branches will offer a choice of Bush burritos (orange-marinated pork with chipotle barbecue) or Kerry combos (cod taco and grilled shrimp taco) with nonpartisan red, white and blue margaritas; and that "I Voted" sticker is good for a 10 percent discount.
Voting gets you rewards elsewhere, too: The La Tasca restaurants downtown (722 Seventh St. NW; 202-347-9190) and in Arlington (2900 N. Wilson Blvd.; 703-812-9120) will be giving away a "tortilla Americana," a Spanish potato and red pepper omelet, to all patrons bearing proof of having voted; and serving red, white and blue sangria for only $2.50. The nine area California Tortilla restaurants, which have been conducting a "corn poll" by selling Bush hickory chicken burritos and Kerry savory chicken burritos (Jenna and Barb ordered Bush-lite low-carb hickory chicken bowls in Arlington), will give a free taco -- flavor of your choice -- to anyone wearing the "I Voted" sticker or carrying a ballot receipt.
If you're looking for a more, um, literate crowd, or expect to be up late and want a caffeine jolt, head to Politics & Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-364-1919), which will have the TV and the espresso machines going until 10, which means you'll be the only clear-eyed person in your office Wednesday. Kramerbooks' Afterwords Cafe (1517 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-387-1462) will stick it out until 2, so you can wait on the coffee till last call.
If you are worried about how to pass the time without passing out, here are some ideas. Play a few poker hands with Bush Cards, the 52-card deck profiling members of the administration in a parody of the Most-Wanted Saddam cards (available at Wake Up Little Suzie at 3409 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-244-0700 or www.bushcards.com). The Bush Cards Web site is also offering free mask-size photos of President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney that can be downloaded, printed out and punched for elastic -- equally good for campaign cheering or trick-or-treating. You can flash your sparkly elephant or donkey T-shirt under your suit jacket at the same time (from Celadon salon and spa at 12th and F streets NW; 202-347-3333).
Rather play a little pool? Buffalo Billiards (1330 19th St. NW; 202-331-7665) already has one Bush and two Kerry parties booked, but there will be plenty of neutral territory, thanks to the plasma and projection-screen TVs that let you take your shots without losing sight of the state map. The kitschier Continental (1911 N. Fort Myer Dr., Arlington; 703-465-7675) is stocking up on the bureaucratically correct Pabst Blue Ribbon with an eye toward incoming players.
Got a bet on the outcome? Forget the low-carb/low-cal/low-alcohol debate altogether and get physical: The Four Seasons Spa (2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-944-2055) has a massage menu that caters to Democratic Blues, Republican Reds, independents and even mud-slingers (they get adobe scrubs) and spinsters (a spinning class and a turnaround massage). You lose, you buy. The Mandarin Oriental's "Body Politic" spa services are similarly slanted, the "Liberal Experience," described as "free-flowing" and "exotic," the conservative version as a deep-tissue treatment to increase "inner strength."
And then there's the protest vote. Baltimore's CenterStage (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-986-4050) will be hosting a "Defense of Marriage Bridal Line," a gay and lesbian bridal fashion show that will feature performance art, stand-up comedy from local fave Susan Mele and Sirius satellite radio's Kathleen Fontaine, cash bar but free food and, naturally, real-time election coverage on a variety of large screens ($10 donation benefits Equality Maryland, which advocates civil marriage for same-sex couples).
And if you're already wondering about The Morning After: The Irish Channel (500 H St. NW; 202-216-0046) will not only keep the TV on till 1:30 but will be back in business by 7 for breakfast.
Eve Zibart is a Weekend staff writer. Fritz Hahn, bars and clubs editor of washingtonpost.com, contributed to this story.