Atlas Redux

The weekend is almost upon us, rearing its happy head. Already friends are congregating online, busy whipping up plans – “Where to go, what to do?” Well, let me inspire you with the tale of last weekend’s return to the Atlas District.

Fast becoming my favorite nightlife destination, I first wrote about the burgeoning H Street NE cluster last summer. It continues to evolve, but one of the main things I’m noticing is the crowd – multigenerational, lowkey – I’m purposefully not calling it a “scene,” because so far it’s managed to maintain a blissfully unpretentious edge. I’m doubtful that will change anytime soon. My theory is that it exists because you have to really plan a night out in the Atlas District. It isn’t particularly close to anything else, so transportation has to be worked out in advance, preferably with a DD as end-of-night cabs can be a real bother to get. Because of this, the people who are going really want to go there and have a commitment to having fun and hanging out, as opposed to a “see-and-be-seen” attitude. Not to mention the grit, which thankfully frightens away any frat/bachelorette element.

Take last Saturday, for example. Friends of mine dj’d an all-Bowie night at the Rock & Roll Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect, frankly. Would people really get into dancing to the Thin White Duke all night long? Or would it be a night of crazily costumed glamsters posing along the walls?

It turned out to be a night packed with – people dancing. No pretension, no wallflowers, several fun costumes, but mainly it was euphoric non-stop dancing to an oeuvre that stretches across a generation. I was thrilled to make it in time to belt out “Moonage Daydream” (thanks, wRONg!). Not to mention the great bartenders and a lively space where you can dance or head upstairs to curl up in a sofa with a Strongbow watching people play pool. It was the sort of magical night where the atmosphere is so friendly you end up flitting from person to person, having intriguing conversations, people-watching devoid of cattiness.

So yes, I continue to love the Atlas District. And though I bemoan the sparse cab situation at last call, that can be remedied by forethought. Perhaps it really is responsible for the laidback vibe…

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