And while dead-center-two-rows-back is the ideal standing spot in just about every Washington-area venue, landing it requires extreme punctuality. You're much too busy for that. That's why I've drafted this guide to the best places to stand in our area's general admission music rooms.
My regular spots have a lot do with the body I was born into. I'm a man, so I don't often deal with creeps trying to grope me, which is more common in big crowds than anyone would care to admit. I'm also 5-foot-9 -- average for American men -- which means I can post up toward the front without ruining anyone's night. (Tall people: Your excellent genetics require you to suffer on airplanes and in nightclubs. Please be cool and move toward the back).
As for the venues not included in this guide, our area's cozier clubs are pretty great no matter where you set up -- Blues Alley, Bohemian Caverns, Twins Jazz, Jammin' Java, Comet Ping Pong, Flash and others all fit the bill. And because certain other venues don't always offer general admission - the Lincoln Theatre, the Hamilton, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club -- we left them off the list, too.
So with that, here are my tips on where to stand.
(Please save me some room.)
Drawings (done by me) are not to scale. All except 9:30 Club illustrate the ground floor; balconies are not depicted. A star indicates the best spot to stand.
Unfortunately, the sight lines at the 9:30 Club are overrated and the club is often jammed with human bodies, some of which played basketball in high school. If it's a tall crowd, try the balcony directly above the soundboard.
815 V St. NW. www.930.com.
This is a general admission supper club, which isn't my favorite arrangement because you have to arrive early for the best seats. So I find that the closest I can get to the stage and a little to the right is best. Most Birchmere acts are veteran artists taking victory lap tours, so it's fun to see them in stately three-quarters view, as if they're sitting for a portrait.
Capacity: 500 seated
3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. www.birchmere.com.
1811 14th St. NW. www.blackcatdc.com.
This is a fine-sounding club no matter where you're standing, so it's looks that matter most. Standing in this spot, you'll be able to watch the band perform against a wall whose red paint appears to glow with a vaguely psychedelic and totally fantastic warmth. (I also find that singers tend to play a little more to this side of the room.)
1940 Ninth St. NW. www.dcnine.com.
2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE. www.echostage.com.
This is another wide-staged venue where the artists can feel far away, even when you've scored a place up front. But there are symmetrical sweet spots near the end of each bar where foot traffic is light and the action feels close.
8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. www.fillmoresilverspring.com.
Capacity: 1,200 standing
620 T St. NW. www.thehowardtheatre.com.
ROCK & ROLL HOTEL
1353 H. St. NE. www.rockandrollhoteldc.com.
220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. www.thestatetheatre.com.
U STREET MUSIC HALL
1115 U St. NW. www.ustreetmusichall.com.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the capacity of the State Theatre is 800. This version has been updated.