Back in the day, when I had just from graduated college — we’re talking mid 2000’s — I used to go to this thing called Liberation Dance Party at DC9 (1940 9th Street NW, accessible from Shaw and U-Street Metro stations) in the U-Street neighborhood. If I remember correctly, it basically consisted of weird videos playing on a large screen, very loud, strange music blaring from speakers and drunk, indie-type people dancing and making out on the dance floor. It was never really my scene (I kind of felt the way I feel about Lady Gaga: Am I missing the point? Is there something deeper going on here that my feeble mind doesn’t understand?) but I had a friend who lived a few blocks away from the club and it seemed like a cool enough thing to do on a Friday night back when I was 21. It was — still is, actually — a divey, no-frills kind of place where you can enjoy $3 cocktails on their rooftop bar. Yes, you heard that right…$3 cocktails. Don’t expect anything too fancy, but for $20, you get a lot drunk for your buck.
In my old age, I don’t see myself joining in on any more DC9 dance parties, but it’s a pretty nice spot for a long, cheap happy hour, as long as you’re OK going without fancy cocktails, artisan beers or wine of any kind. Which I am.
DC9’s lower level. There’s also a small bar with stools on the lower level. I guess this is the best place to sit if you like air-conditioning and are here more for the food than the alcohol (which seems unlikely), or if you want a slightly quieter place to hang out. Food-wise, DC9 isn’t exactly avant-garde, fresh or green, but the garlic fries are pretty delicious and their sandwich and burger options are pretty decent. Typical greasy, unhealthy bar food. Which actually comes in pretty handy because when you’re paying $3 drink you can afford to drink a lot. And nothing is better than fried food after an evening of drinking.
A lot of stairs. The first floor has booths and a small bar, the second floor is used for small concerts and dance parties and the third floor is a nice rooftop bar. I think this gives you a clear indication that DC9 doesn’t pretend to be upscale or fancy.
I don’t know that I would define DC9 as a hipster bar, but I would say you will see more polka dots,plaid shorts, bangs, tattoos, berets and yes, red lipstick, than you might at other D.C bars. I’d also say that the crowd here is on the younger side. While I didn’t feel out-of-place, I definitely felt I was at the older end of the age spectrum. I’d say the bar probably attracts young people recently out of college who aren’t making too much money yet, non-profit workers, not-so-well paid government workers and artsy/creative types.
The best thing about DC9 is the fact that their happy hour goess until 8pm. Most happy hours end by 7.
The view from the rooftop. Though not right on U-Street, DC9 is part of the U-Street nightlife scene, a scene I’d describe as relatively young (22-28ish) and edgier than you’d find in Arlington or yuppier D.C neighborhoods. It definitely has a more artsy-fartsy hipster feel than other nightlife spots. Kind of gives off one of those pretentious in its non-pretentiousness vibes.
After a few drinks.
Categories: D.C, D.C Culture, D.C Nightlife, D.C Sites and Places, Reviews