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DJ Bars

By Fritz Hahn

washingtonpost.com Staff Writer

Friday, November 08, 2002

Serving as a middle ground between a jukebox and live music, DJ-driven bar events are less about dancing than socializing with friends and -– gasp -– actually paying attention to the tracks the DJ is playing. "I don't mind being called 'background music,'" says William Alberque, who spins experimental beats at the Blue Room's Filler night as well as traditional indie rock and electronic dance music at the Black Cat's monthly Confusion. "In fact, I like helping to set a mood. And I like that people are listening." At these nights –- most of which have little or no dance floor -- the music provides a soundtrack for the evening. The DJ can spin music that might be a little too "out there" for traditional DJ sets, exposing listeners to new music that they probably won't hear on the radio. Of course, in some instances, it’s just an excuse for the DJ to play his or her favorite music while the crowd enjoys cocktails and sings along with the Madness record.

Where to Find the DJs


One of the best places to grab a cocktail in Washington, Aroma is home to a variety of DJs from Thursday through Saturday. Our favorite is DJ Dredd's Friday night mix of rare grooves and funk, but there's almost always something worth listening to while you chat in the lounge.

3417 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Fri-Sat 6:00pm- 3:00am, Sun-Thu 6:00pm- 2:00am,

Driving Directions

Blue Room Lounge and Restaurant

A chic lounge with excellent down tempo, acid jazz and experimental electronic music, the Blue Room lacks a dance floor but fills with well-dressed scenesters sipping expensive cocktails. There’s a cover charge and dress code on Friday and Saturday, but none for the experimental Filler (Sunday), the you-be-the-DJ event Hi-Fi (Wednesday) or the inventive house music at Knee Deep (Thursday).

2321 18th St. NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Wed-Thu 9:30 pm-2 am, Fri-Sat 9:30 pm-3 am, Sun 9:30 pm-2 am,

Driving Directions

Chi-Cha Lounge

Known for its exquisite lineup of live world music Sunday through Wednesday, Chi-Cha Lounge has DJs spinning Latin, world music, house and other styles on weekends. Rarely too loud, the music sets a nice tone in the couch-laden, candlelit room.

1624 U St. NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Fri-Sat 5:30 pm-2:30 am, Sun-Thu 5:30 pm-1:30 am,

Driving Directions

Chief Ike's Mambo Room

The no-cover, no-hassle weekend spot above Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, Cosmo Lounge has unpredictable DJs spinning punk rock, heavy metal, ska, classic rock, funk and whatever else comes into their heads. There’s a pool table in a neighboring room if it all gets to be too much.

1725 Columbia Rd. NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Daily 9:00pm- 2:00am,

Driving Directions

Eighteenth Street Lounge

The granddaddy of Washington’s lounge scene, ESL has an outstanding DJ roster (Desmond Williams, DJ Farid, Mike B and a host of guests) and a couch-filled main room that guarantee a night of excellent music with plenty of surprises.

1212 18th St. NW, Washington, DC


Price: Ranges from $10-20

Hours: Tue-Wed 9:30pm- 2:00am, Thu 5:30pm- 2:00am, Fri 5:30pm- 3:00am, Sat 9:30pm- 3:00am,

Driving Directions

Galaxy Hut

The DJs spinning records at Galaxy Hut every Wednesday are regulars mining their own collections; so you might hear anything from trance to Talking Heads -- and sometimes both. Grab something from the excellent draft beer lineup and enjoy.

2711 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA


Hours: Fri-Sat 7 pm- 2 am, Sun-Thu 4 pm-2 am,

Related Links: http://www.galaxyhut.com/

Driving Directions


The patio is Dupont’s see-and-be-seen spot, but DJs spin house, dub and lounge music inside every night of the week. There’s live percussion on the weekends, and soft leather banquettes line the walls.

1629 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Fri-Sat 5:00pm- 3:00am, Sun-Thu 5:00pm- 2:00am,

Driving Directions


An eclectic mix of DJs and styles -- ‘60s movie soundtracks, vintage reggae and rocksteady, punk and ‘70s funk -- makes the couches of this upstairs bar the place to be every weekend.

917 U St. NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Daily 9:00pm- 2:00am,

Driving Directions

Marx Cafe

This crowded Mount Pleasant diner features Friday and Saturday DJ nights showcasing indie rock, reggae, pop, lounge music and soul. There are two monthly events worth noting: the Jamaican Soundclash (one Friday per month) features ‘60s and ‘70s reggae, ska and rocksteady; and the Champagne Socialism brunch (one Saturday from 11 to 4) provides breakfast and Bloody Marys to a soundtrack of atmospheric Britpop and indie rock.

3203 Mount Pleasant St. NW, Washington, DC


Driving Directions

Penang Malaysian Cuisine $$$

Thursday through Saturday, DJs Taek-One (Thursday) and Adrian Loving (Friday and Saturday) spin house, disco and other funky beats for a mixed, social crowd. There’s hardly any room to dance, but people groove in place.

1837 M St NW, Washington, DC


Hours: Daily 11:30 am-3 pm, Mon-Thu 3-11 pm, Fri-Sat 3 pm-midnight, Sun 3-10 pm,

Driving Directions


Wednesday through Saturday, the couches and coffee tables at this intimate two-floor spot vibrate to the rhythm of house, hip-hop, soul, vintage funk and other chill beats. We especially recommend DJ Stylus (our own Rhome Anderson) on Wednesday nights and Earl Griffiths on Saturdays; but whenever you go, the party atmosphere is more social than crazy.

2226 18th St. NW, Washington, DC


Driving Directions

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