Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
K Street NW, the apocryphal dark heart of Washington’s lobbying industry, is an unlikely runway. At five o’clock on a Friday evening, the street’s sidewalk culture is decidedly Jos. A. Bank. Five hours later, it’s BCBG—with a delightfully trashy streak of Great Glam. Yes, tourists, Lobbyist Lane turns downright lascivious after dark, and the sex workers around Union Station don’t deserve all the credit. It’s the nightclubs, and their eye-grabbing patrons, that make a Friday night traffic jam on K Street bearable. And you will hit a traffic jam. It’s part of K Street’s natural (dis)order: Late-late night on a weekend, a special combination of cabbies, drunk jaywalkers, left-turners, box-blockers, and buzzed bridge-and-tunnelers collude to form an exceptionally teeth-gritting species of gridlock. How to deal? Enjoy it. Pretend you’re at a drive-in movie. The lines outside The Park are Shakespearean; someone’s always getting dumped, or duped, or foiled, or seduced. But unlike Shakespeare’s maids, the women aren’t wearing much clothing. Heels top five inches; skirts barely exceed six. Bouncers are turning people away; drunk men are angling for phone numbers. At the 2 a.m. peak, there’s typically a Ciroc-fueled screaming match between a couple of gals and their artfully sideburned boyfriends. Just find a comfortable parking spot between cabs and gawk, gawk, gawk.