In the most recent Got Plans? chat, the Going Out Gurus took questions from readers about the inauguration and bars that will host charity events. Check out the highlights below, and search the boldface terms at for more information.

Inauguration big screens?

Hi! I’m sure all will be answered in time, but do you happen to know whether there will be big screens on the Mall like last time, to watch the ceremony from far back? Or if you don’t have tickets, is your best bet is to watch it on a television? Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: There will be Jumbotrons. . . . We do know the non-ticketed area will stretch on the Mall from Fourth Street to 12th Street. I would fully expect that there will be several of them in that area. Looking at 2009, there were about 20, which sounds like not nearly enough for that many people. Vision, according to reports and everyone I talked with, was limited. This time . . . with fewer people, it [should be] an all-around more pleasurable experience for everyone.

Happy-hour karaoke

It’s my work bestie’s birthday, and she wants to do karaoke for happy hour on Friday, but Muzette is all booked up. Anywhere else in the District (we don’t want to go out to Annandale) we can vocalize on Friday after work? Private rooms preferred. Audience tolerated.

Ramanathan: We were just discussing how private-room karaoke in the city is pretty much Muzette. So Cafe Japone (old standard, but still kicking) or Zabb (not sure of the days they do this, but I seem to always be walking by when they are) might be good options. I think they do it after happy hour. Find our list of best karaoke events in the city at

Bars for charity happy hours

Hi GOGs! My organization wants to host a charity event at a bar in D.C. that will donate a portion of the proceeds. In a previous chat you mentioned that Maddy’s and the Passenger do this. Do you know of any other bars or restaurants that will do this? Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: Plenty of bars will actually do this if you schedule far enough in advance and promise to bring a decent crowd. Blue Banana has done events with the Humane Society; BlackFinn, Sign of the Whale, Bottom Line, Fado and Science Club have hosted Leukemia and Lymphoma/Team in Training events. Laughing Man Tavern is another good one; they’ll usually give you the downstairs bar for fundraisers.

Party for 50-60

My college friends and I have a party every year for about 50 to 60 people at a bar in D.C. Last year, we rented out RFD, and this year are looking for a similar bar to rent. Any ideas? It would be during the day on a Saturday.

Hahn: Great call: During the day on Saturday is often an easier solution than at night. Iron Horse Tap Room, Bar 201, the Black Squirrel, the mezzanine level at Public Bar (especially now that college football season is over), Meridian Pint’s basement, or even the upstairs of Cause: The Philanthropub would work. (The latter is free.)

Official inaugural ball

I’m one of the lucky ones with tickets to the official inaugural ball at the Convention Center. I realize with it being one of two official balls this year, things could be different, but what’s your best advice on how to make the most of this experience? I’m relatively new to the area and this is our first time doing a “night out on the town.” (I realize the following: get there early b/c of security, expect lines for everything . . .)

Ramanathan: Start with the [Reliable Source] guide to the balls ( Frankly, I think the photo of people sitting on the stairs looking miserable should give you an idea of how it could all go. One way to ensure you have a good time: comfortable shoes. If you’re a woman, I’d suggest some jeweled flats that you wear all week to break them in. If you must wear a heel, look for a platform and possibly an open toe, so you’re not killing your feet (and your toes) all night. Don’t wear your shoes for the very first time on Inauguration Day; you will regret it, because they won’t be broken in and you won’t know if they’re slippery/whether they hurt till you’re an hour in.

I would definitely get there very early. Be aware that the Mount Vernon Square Metro station (the closest one to the balls at the Convention Center) will be closed, so your best bet will be to hike there from Chinatown Metro.

Hahn: Eat dinner first, or at least a big lunch. Lines for food will be long, and you won’t get as much to eat as you think you will. (Also, the hors d’oeuvres are always smaller than necessary.) You don’t want to get drunk. I saw it happen four years ago, with people who’d had too much after maybe an hour or so.

If it’s not too much of a splurge, take an Uber ( or a cab to the ball, and don’t walk from Chinatown. You’ll just be happier, and this is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime (once every four years) experience, and you should try to cut as few corners as possible. Also, if you can avoid checking a coat, do that. At one ball in 2009, it took longer to get a coat at the end of the night than it did to get drinks, food, get through the metal detector, etc.

Have questions of your own? The Going Out Gurus will be online at 1 p.m. Thursday. Submit questions in advance at