Are Intern Bars Really Disappearing from DC?

You’ve probably read Lavanya Ramanathan’s fun article posted this morning (July 10th) on the Washington Post’s website. The article, entitled “As D.C. dive bars go extinct, summer interns find Washington less welcoming” is notable for both its thesis that there are fewer cheap intern bars for young adults to get their swill on for little money as well as fulfilling the newspaper’s destiny to make sure Democracy does not die in Darkness to unmask the name (though still sounds made up amirite) of Barred in DC (me and PFTCommenter-RIP Eric-have a lot in common). Excited to be in the Post after nearly a 5 year hiatus.

But is the concept true? My quotes are legit, though I also told Lavanya in same conversation that I don’t actually know if there are that fewer intern bars. Instead it just feels that way because 1) there are wayy more nice cocktail / beer bars that don’t cater to 21-24 year olds and 2) people who feel this way have gotten older and stopped going to those cheap bars so we don’t necessarily know where the interns are/or going. Younger folks still make it to the newly re-opened Sign of the Whale, Madhatter, and Front Page in Dupont, Dan’s Cafe in Adams Morgan; Hamilton’s Bar & Grill ($1 PBR & High Life all day Friday), Tortilla Coast, Bullfeathers, Capitol Lounge, and Union Pub on the Hill (and probably others, again, as the piece said, I don’t really goto those bars that much anymore). Dirty Water, the new ramshackle Boston sports bar in mid H St NE is run by the folks who used to run Rhino Bar in Georgetown and offers a $20 open bar from 7-10p on Fridays during the summer and specifically markets to interns. Sure, McFadden’s, My Brother’s Place, Brass Monkey/Roxanne’s/Spaghetti Garden, Millie & Al’s, Chief Ike’s, and Asylum have shut down, but there are still spots there.

Also, one quibble with headline and some of the language in the story: intern bars aren’t necessarily really all “dive” bars, instead more typically 24 years and younger meat markets with sticky floors and dancing areas with cheap drinks. All in all, it’s worth reading and discussing at the bar with your fancy $14 cocktail or $9 local craft beer, like my friends did over text/e-mail/Facebook.

P.S. Also, if you’re a fake journalist or not a journalist and are curious how the sausage is made: I got an e-mail out of the blue from the reporter 3 weeks ago asking if I had time to chat about the intern bar scene and how it’s dissipated. I replied saying I would be happy to chat but I bet her co-worker Fritz Hahn would know better or just as well as me. She still said she wanted to get my perspective and we had a nice phone chat for 10 minutes the next day. I’m guessing this is the norm (and I have no problem with it) for fun, trend pieces like this but I got the sense she already had an angle (intern bars are disappearing) and was trying to nudge me with her questions to agree (which I did, at least for some of the quotes you see).

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