Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where (and How) to Host an Event In D.C.

One of the amazing things about Washington above all other cities is its undercurrent of passionate activism. No matter what side of the political spectrum you fall, there is always a happy hour, a fundraiser, a networking function or some other event designed to make your heart pound to the rhythm of the party line.

Now, if you're with a politically and locationally entrenched organization, you probably have no shortage of bars and restaurants with ample event space flinging filet mignons at you for the chance to host a soiree on your behalf. But the beauty of D.C. and its average residency the span of an election cycle is that there are new organizations touting a new cause every single day. There will always be a political cause du jour, and you might just be the mastermind behind the next one.

Bearing that in mind, if you are the indentured servant passionate activist tasked with getting your fledging organization support, where do you go to host a function in D.C.? And just how do you negotiate the space?

Look no further than this blog post. We Gamma Girls here at Doing the District have figured out the process for you, and I'm going to let you in on our trade secrets.


STEP 1: Select venue

D.C. is awesome for party venues. Seems nearly every bar here has a space that can be reserved for parties of any size. Gamma Girl favorites include:

Sign of the Whale, 1825 M St. NW

Parties are kind of the name of the game for this bar known for packing in GW students like sardines and your uncanny ability to win a free happy hour there after spending even just one hour at the bar. The marketing team here is phenomenal -- they know that the best way to inspire loyalty is to give out gifts (like any good D.C. lobbyist should), and they will come through for your event with exclusive use of the back bar, appetizer platters and drink specials. The Gamma Girls hosted a Halloween party here in October 2011.

Science Club, 1136 19th St. NW

Perhaps you're less interested in parties for the sake of causes than parties for the sake of parties. Just around the corner from Sign of the Whale is Science Club, where I hosted my 27th birthday party in March 2010.

(I'll give you a minute to do the math.)


(Moving on.)

Science Club holds several floors of rentable space, which can hold a variety of party sizes. Additionally, if you ask nicely, the owner will coordinate with you and his bartenders to create a cocktail just for the occasion, based on your specifications for base liquor, size and price.

*Personal notes: When I held my birthday, I opted for the second floor, which maxes out at 75 people. The drink created for me was a $9 vodka-based drink with a cherry in a martini glass, which was AWESOME.

Policy, 1904 14th St. NW

I held my final happy hour as a dating blogger at Policy in February 2011 and can confirm that the second floor is a PERFECT place for a large event. The social media team here is very eager to work with you on events, and much like Science Club, the Policy folks will work with you to create specialty cocktails for the evening:

Pretty sweet!

And last but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: One Lounge, 1606 20th St. NW

If you're reading this blog, you know that the Gamma Girls threw our one-year anniversary party at One Lounge, so we can also say from experience that this is a phenomenal venue for a  private event. They worked with us to create a food menu for the evening and guaranteed us a space for our party. Additionally, they guaranteed us discounted drink prices and gave us our own waitresses. It couldn't have gone better!

To see more photos from the event, check out the album on our Facebook page: One at One Party

So, all of that covers WHERE to host an event. Let's now cover the HOW.

STEP 2:  Contact venue marketing team

This is so much easier than you'd think it'd be:
  1. Get the bar/restaurant's email address from its website and send them a note.
  2. Explain who you are and what your organization is.
  3. Give the proposed date of the event and what exactly you're looking for in terms of a commitment from the venue (i.e. tell them projected attendance numbers and whether you need anything special, like sound system access).
  4. Be willing to compromise. Not all requests can be accommodated.
Et voila! It really can be that easy in this city -- people are generally used to requests like these and are more than willing to work with you.

And as a final thought, when hosting a D.C. event, there is one more thing you should do:


The Gamma Girls would like to extend their sincere gratitude to One Lounge for their help in throwing our One at One bash, to Urban Style Lab, Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, Fornash, Duffy's Irish Pub and Uptown Tap House for contributing to our swag bags, and to Breiana Whittaker, who took photos of the night. We couldn't have done it without you all!


  1. Excellent post and I've followed your advice! (I held a party at Science Club that was a blast)

    1. Yes, and I attended! It WAS a blast!

  2. It was a wonderful party and elegantly hosted!

    Here is my little take-away.

  3. Hello there. I wanted to drop you a rapid note to be able to communicate my delicate thankfulness. I have been following your web site for a month or so plus have picked out up a lot of vastly first-class data as well as appreciated the way you have structured your own up web page.

  4. I was here recently for a charity event and was amazed how fantastic this function room was. Too often these events are held in drab ballrooms, so I was excited to see how lovely this place was.

  5. Quite useful information on hosting a party. I am planning to arrange a garden party with my family and friends and trying to find one of best Los Angeles event venues. Came to know about few venues and going to book perfect one quickly.