In my career of going to and even writing reviews of bars, I have been to some awful, awful places.
Bad music, cover charges, dress codes, ridiculously priced drinks, people with no teeth blowing cigarettes in my face, I really felt like I’d seen it all.
Until I went to Grand Central in Adams Morgan. The 18th Street bar presented, quite simply, the worst nightlife experience I have ever experienced. The people I was meeting up with knew it, the people walking by outside knew it, heck even the bouncer knew it when he embarrassedly required me to remove not just my hoodie, but also my hat, per bar policy. Oh, but there is an outdoor slop bucket for me to store it in. No problem!
I don’t mind crowded places — if there is something to make the crowding worthwhile. Alas, there is nothing that makes this bar worth undergoing the human chicken coop conditions that I experienced on a Saturday night. Consider:
-The playlist, consisting mainly of Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Neil Diamond. The mix is best described as “Ryan Seacrest.”
-The fact that a gentleman adjacent to me literally could not drink his beer without leaning into whoever was standing behind him. There was so little room he could not, sadly, even tip his beer to the sky.
-The girl’s dance moves that continually resulted in her back and shoulders smashing into me. Multiply that by the hundreds, and that’s what we were dealing with. A massive scale of bad dancing and fist pumping.
-The clothing choices of the majority of the crowd. The men looked like they were trying to make a nice impression on their first day of a temporary data entry job, the women like they were posing in a Sears “tween” catalog. Blech.
-The line of people out the door after midnight. Really? You know, Millle & Al’s is RIGHT across the street. I hear they play a mean mix of Ke$ha and Maroon 5 if you are into an edgier scene.
But nothing was more aggravating than the policy of no-hoodies and/or hats. The closest thing I have ever experienced was at a Towson bar that did not allow backwards hats. But at Grand Central, they take it a step further. Unfortunately the result is not exactly a well-coifed crowd, but instead a sweaty pale mass of Congressional pages and people from outside D.C. that think this is the cool thing to do in the city.
I can not help but think this rule is intended to keep certain demographics out of this bar and create as uniform a crowd as possible. Well, Grand Central, it worked. Everybody looks the same in your club. Not to mention that on a night of 35-degree temperatures, the requirement of removing your sweatshirt before entering a trashy bar seemed extraordinarily ridiculous.
Thankfully there was a bucket to store my “street” clothes in. Oh and the Budweisers were only $4. It’s those little details that set this place apart.
Disclaimer: In Grand Central’s defense, most of the people inside seemed to be having a genuinely good time. Which only makes this establishment that much more disturbing.