The Great Inaugural After-Party
Archie Battles, 24, was just getting started on the 18th Street strip at 2:30 a.m., well after Adams Morgan bars had dried up. "I get off late, and I like to go out at a fashionable time," says Battles. With last call called, he and two friends stand in position on the sidewalk, respectfully hollering at women who pass by.
Come inauguration week, those women-along with other drunken decisions concerning District sex lives-will be lubricated by two extra hours of bar time. To mark the occasion of Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency, the D.C. Council passed emergency legislation allowing bars to sell liquor until 4 a.m. from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21 (although some still have to adhere to their neighborhood voluntary agreements). You and an estimated 2 million to 4 million of your closest fellow Americans can now share in this historic event by becoming monumentally inebriated and attempting fumbling, ill-advised sex with each other. And if 4 a.m. rolls around and you have yet to zero-in on any promising prospects, never fear. Bars are free to stay open 24 hours for food sales during this magical time-meaning that you don't have to go home, and you can stay here.
So, how will D.C.'s single men spend their two extra hours with legal booze? That's an easy question for Battles, who aims to consume "more drinks," facilitating his pursuit of "partying like a rock star," a lifestyle that inevitably leads Battles and his buddies to "hit on women."
"Oh, I'll still be here," says Robert Thomason, a Washington Post news researcher who was nursing a pint and feeding the jukebox after Angles' last call on Saturday. Thomason predicts that with "crush level" crowds hitting Washington, area bars will be filled to capacity, and drunken hook-ups will follow. "We're talking the density of animals," says Thomason. "Any time you put that many animals together, they're going to get in each other's way." But the idea of being sidled up to several hundred drunken strangers won't deter him from hitting his favorite Adams Morgan bar-which is more than he can say for the U Street corridor. "It's better than being stabbed," he says.
Marc Engels, a 23-year-old UDC student who, at 2 a.m. on Saturday, was busy offering his girlfriend half-hearted Las Vegas wedding proposals, predicts that he'll spend the additional two hours "drinking more," he says. Engels, who hails from Germany, is more prepared for the inaugural bar hours than most. "Two a.m.? That's cute. In Germany, you can stay out until 7 a.m.," he says. Even a two-hour extension would be nothing more than a quaint attempt at a reasonable drinking policy by German standards. "In America, you say, 'Oh, we're drunk. Let's go to IHOP.'" In Germany, "it's not about getting really drunk," he says. "It's about looking to score."
One late-night Adams Morgan reveler, who identified himself as a secret service agent, was logging some off-duty sidewalk hours outside a Jumbo Slice (his friend was inside). Come inauguration, the 4 a.m. cutoff will allow him to "continue to drink, some more. Continue to get plowed." Although he says he will be busy on the job during inaugural daytime hours, he hopes the after-hours drinking will lead to extended hook-up opportunities. "I'm trying to hook one up tonight, shit," he says, before testing out a pickup line. "Feel my back pocket. Feel it," he says. "That's called a badge."
Though some bar-goers are hoping that extended drinking hours will aid them in inaugurating some new sex partners, the city's bartenders-those sober watchmen of the nightlife scene-aren't convinced more drinking will help their chances. Becca Schmidt, a bartender at Columbia Heights' Wonderland, says there are always those drinkers seeking late-night couplings who will exhaust their options. Some singles "hang out and hang out and hang out until our doorman kicks them out, finally, and they try somehow to get back in," she says. "When the bar clears out and it's just the people working there, it can be kind of intimidating [to try] to hit on the bartender. You're suddenly way outnumbered." But there's always the chance that late-night sex-seekers will find equally desperate hangers-on come last call. "There were a few nights when there were girls lined up along one side, boys on another...just like seventh grade," says Schmidt.
But though the booze will flow until 4 a.m., no emergency legislation will guarantee that the girls will follow. "I think it will actually be harder," says Roosh Valizadeh, local blogger and pickup expert. "With more time to drink, packs of guys are going to hit on girls with such bad drunk game that by 4 a.m., most girls are going to be completely unreceptive."
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.