Nightclub Promotions: Now and Then
Panorama Productions owner Antonis Karagounis examines changing trends in DC nightlife promotions

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We used to dance to Ace of Base, do the Macarena, and spice up our lives with everyone’s favorite girl group. Now it’s all about Avicii, “Call Me Maybe,” and LMFAO. In fashion, we’ve traded parachute pants and Jordans for skinny jeans and a resurgence of low-cut shoes.

More importantly, Washington, DC’s population has become younger and more educated. An influx of expendable income has caused significant growth in our city’s hospitality industry. New money has brought gentrification, cleaned up DC’s neighborhoods, and opened new bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels. DC is no longer just a “functional” city, but a “fun” city as well. Case and point, the weekly Glow parties (started in DC in 1999) were listed amongst the top 8 “Best U.S. Clubs” at Winter Music Conference in 2011 and 2012.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is how we acquire information.


DC nightlife has always been a promoter-driven market.

The “scene” was once dominated by a select handful of event companies, including Panorama Productions, Masoud A Productions, Marc Barnes, Lindy Promo, Event Concepts, Buzzlife and Mad Power Unit. Of these, only Marc, Masoud, and Panorama are still relevant. The list of new clubs and bars, however, continues to grow.

This nightlife boom has ushered in a new mindset amongst workers and watered down what it once meant to be a “promoter.” How and why? Two reasons:

  1. Social media has destroyed the entry barrier to running a successful party or promotions company.
  2. Venues are opening without long-term business models or accurate assessments of consumer demand.

Social Media
The great equalizer? Not exactly.

too many social media eventsEveryone and their grandmother has a Facebook page. If you have 1,000 friends and 200 Twitter followers then it’s easy to become a promoter, right?

This philosophy has saturated the market (and your news feed) with an overflow of pointless messages. Unless you’re a “real life” friend of this “promoter,” or actually like the DJ who’s performing, this information provides zero value to you. Simply put, Facebook has become a promoter’s playground.

Social media has basically eliminated the $5-10k start-up money promotions companies once needed for flyers, graphic designers, email lists and a website. Since there’s no longer an entry barrier, most of today’s promoters are “boom and bust.” They might bring a ton of people one night but fail to produce the next. This creates a high turnover rate and thus unpredictable and unreliable events.

10 years ago, a good promoter could bring 400 people to a single party. Today, most club owners are happy if a promoter can bring over 30. Now it usually takes 5-6 promotion groups to get a 400 capacity venue busy.

Ownership/Operations
Differentiate. And please, maintain control.

Far too many club owners have a skewed perception of how effective social media promotion really is. They’re placing the success and future of their venue(s) in the hands of amateurs looking for a quick buck. Kids with a lot of Facebook friends can walk into a venue and get any deal they want if an owner is desperate to pay next month’s rent. But these kids may leave the venue after a couple months. Then what? Without sustainable business models, these places often close down after just a few years.

armin van buuren glow washington dc

Armin van Buuren at DC Armory (Nov. 2011)

New venues open and compete for the same crowd. DC is growing younger and deserves great entertainment, but the supply is outpacing the demand.

The list of nightclubs and bars keeps growing. There are outdoor parties, boat parties, pool parties, festivals, stadium concerts and more. Nightlife fans are overwhelmed!

While there will always be a new venue trying to capture a piece of the pie, most are failing to offer a different experience. Too many aspiring owners see another venue’s popularity and try to duplicate it. They’re borrowing (and stealing) the concept, design and even audience.

The best venues are the ones with resolute concepts that provide for a unique customer experience, not the ones who recycle. As the phrase goes, “often imitated but never duplicated!”

My Advice to Owners

As a nightclub, bar, or entertainment property owner, how can you resist letting Facebook all-stars run the show while still maximizing your bottom line? They key lies in your promoters.

KNOW YOUR PROMOTERS

diverse crowd

Who do you want at your party? Tell your promoters!

A promoter’s crowd alters the concept of your space. Age, gender, sex, race, orientation, nationality, education, income – Understanding the demographic a promoter brings is critical to running a successful venue.

Telling promoters to “just bring people” without understanding who they bring generally doesn’t work unless your event is already well established.

SET EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR PROMOTERS

Explain to them what type of clientele you’re looking for.

An all-Latin event can work great on the weekend at Cuba Libre. It’s a Latin restaurant/lounge. Weekend events at Barcode, an American restaurant/bar/lounge, require a top 40 mix. Barcode is, however, capable of hosting Latin events on an off-night. The DJ must work in some top 40 with their Latin mix to accommodate everyone.

Bottom line: Don’t let promoters alter the concept of your place. Cut them slack on off-nights but maintain control.

DO NOT TAKE THE EASY WAY OUTforked path

While giving a night to promoters is an easy way to boost revenue, it’s temporary and dangerous.

You’re allowing someone with no vested interest in your business to control the brand. Next thing you know, your promoters are leaving for a newer, trendier place; or one that pays better. And what do you have left?

NEVER LET PROMOTERS RUN YOUR OPERATIONS

DO NOT let promoters check IDs, hire security, run your table lists, book your DJs, etc.  This is your business. You will inevitably lose your liquor license with operations in the hands of promoters.

At many ABC hearings, not surprisingly, I’ve heard owners justify their liquor law violations by blaming the promoters who ran the night.

Conclusion

Is promoting as we once knew it really dead? Not exactly. While remnants of old school tactics still exist, the times have certainly changed. There’s more clutter and a lot more amateurs out there. But the fundamental idea still exists: people want to have fun. They need a resource directing them to the best parties in town. As one of my dear friends, and in many ways a mentor likes to put it:

“The value of a promoter is not what he brings to your business, but what he takes away when he decides to leave.”

—  Masoud A

I’ll leave you with this:

Social media is powerful when utilized correctly. Watch out for confident amateurs with lots of friends and zero track record. Before opening a new venue, make sure there’s actual consumer need in both your neighborhood and city. Evaluate whether your property will be a boom-bust craze or a sustainable business.

With so many choices and information thrown at today’s nightlife crowd, only organized parties with strong promotions will remain standing at the end of the day.

Best Frozen Summer Drinks in DC

By Peach in DC Nightlife, Whats hot in DC Nightlife
Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 6:26pm. (Updated: 10/24/13 at 6:00pm) Add comments

Where to find the best frozen drinks in DC

It’s heating up and there is nothing more refreshing than a frozen drink on a hot, sticky day. Summers in DC don’t have to be full of sweaty suffering.  You know the days: when your cu-lots are sticking to your inner thigh and your hair is frizzy and pressed to your dripping scalp. Your sunglasses keep slipping off your nose, your shirt has turned a darker shade of it’s former self, and swamp ass is setting in.

Never fear, Slurpees and alcohol will be your new bff and aid in your recovery from the summer heat!

Barcode

Barcode Patio Parties DCLocation:

1101 17th St NW DC 20036

Atmosphere:

The ultimate lounge area with dining area/dance floor and sliding glass-door-panels in the spring/summer to create an indoor/outdoor ambiance. A no cover/no dress code policy promotes a relaxing vibe in a modern setting.

Specialty Drinks:

In addition to the extensive drink menu created by super Mixologist Ari Wilder, Barcode stepped it up this summer by adding frozen drinks and drunken snow cones which are sure to cool you off and get you tipsy during the summer swelter.

  • $8 Frozen Margaritas
  • $7 Drunken Snow Cones

Cantina Marina

Cantina MarinaLocation:

600 Water St SW DC 20024

Atmosphere:

DC’s only waterfront restaurant and bar, situated on a dock over the Washington Channel with great views, frozen drinks, and a casual dining menu.

Specialty Drinks:

Daily specials like the $7 Milagro margaritas with a Patron Citronage floater or Tito’s Frozen Texas Hurricane.

Bandolero

BandoleroLocation:

3241 M ST NW DC 20007

Atmosphere:

What was once Hook, the now two-story, 5,000 square foot, high-energy modern Mexican space Bandolero, reflects a Day of the Dead motif in the heart of Georgetown. The restaurant is run by celebrity chef  Mike Isabella, known as a tough-talking Top Chef competitor and the chef behind hot new DC restaurants Graffiato and Bandolero.

Specialty Drinks:

The cocktail list is heavy on tequila and mezcal. Margaritas of all flavors, frozen and on the rocks, but the bright prickly pear frozen margarita is not to be missed.

Mixtec

MixtecLocation:

1792 Columbia Rd NW DC 20009

Atmosphere:

A total hole in the wall located at the top of the hill in Adam’s Morgan, right by District Nightclub. Go for the tacos or a cheap brunch, then stumble out an hour later after drowning yourself in their super strong margaritas.

Specialty Drinks:

Super strong frozen margaritas!

Surfside

SurfsideLocation: 

2444 Wisconsin Avenue DC 20007

Atmosphere:

Surfside is a casual spot where you can get great grilled tacos and sip on margaritas inspired by the beach cuisines of the world.
Surfside is all about a laid-back atmosphere and perfect for a quick bite or frozen drink complete with a rooftop deck.

Specialty Drinks:

Enjoy a frozen margarita or tropical blended drink.

Frozen margaritas $7.95 /pitchers $26.95 and half pitchers $13.50

Foxy’s Ocean Water – Vodka, Chambord, Blue Curacao, and 7-Up- Frozen

Art and Soul’s

Art and SoulLocation: 

415 New Jersey Ave., NW DC 20001

Atmosphere:

Run by Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, Art Smith, this Capitol Hill Restaurant is  a destination restaurant in The Liaison, Smith presents his renowned fresh and modern regional cuisine with a Southern accent.

Art and Soul offers indoor and outdoor patio seating in a relaxed elegant setting and true southern hospitality and was Winner of Wine Enthusiast magazine’s “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2011″.

Specialty Drinks:

Sno-cone cocktails: they have the laurel park: strawberries, cucumber, Pimm’s with St-Germain and sparkling rosé.

Estadio

EstadioLocation: 

1520 14th Street NW DC 20005

Atmosphere:

Estadio, which means “stadium” in Spanish, is a contemporary Spanish restaurant located in DC’s fashionable Logan Circle neighborhood. The menu offers a creative take on traditional Spanish cuisine and inventive beverage program. 

Specialty Drinks:

Move over 7-eleven! Estadio is serving up Slushitos (slushees)!

  • Grapefruit, Bourbon, Chamomile ~ 9
  • Coconut, Rum, Lemongrass, Lime ~ 9

Alero

AleroLocation:

1301 U St NW DC (U Street Corridor), 3500 Connecticut Avenue NW DC, 3345 14th Street NW, 1724 Connecticut Ave NW DC (Dupont Circle)

Atmosphere:

Mexican themed restaurant and bar in 4 different locations in DC. All locations provide a laid back atmosphere and great happy hour specials!

Specialty Drinks:

Lime, Strawberry or the matrimonio frozen margarita (strawberry + lime). $5.50 for happy hour or $27 pitchers until 7PM. Add $2 shot of Chambord, Midori, or Blue Curacao. Or the “The Super Margarita”, which is a frozen margarita doused with a Corona.

Ted’s Bulletin

Ted's Bulletin DCLocation:

505 8th Street Southeast DC 20003

Atmosphere:

Located in Barrack’s Row,  a classic diner / soda fountain set up in the middle of the Eastern Market area, with a great bar, breakfast all day, and great dinner and lunch specials that just happens to serve boozy milkshakes.

Specialty Drinks:

Alcoholic Milkshakes:

Grasshopper (Kahlua and creme de menthe); White Russian (vodka and Kahlua); Twisted Coconut (coconut rum, Key Lime Pie, coconut rum Bananas Foster, and banana rum); Buzzed Berries (raspberry schnapps/ rum); Dirty Girl Scout (peppermint schnapps) for the low price all for the low price of $8.99!

Lauriol Plaza

Lauriol PlazaLocation:

1835 18th Street NW DC 20009

Atmosphere:

Widely popular, affordable, Tex-Mex and Latin American dishes in a sophisticated atmosphere. A place where you might have to wait for a table but it’s worth it while you drink pitcher after pitcher of margaritas on the rooftop.

Specialty Drinks:

Pitchers and swirls – Margaritas frozen or on the rocks, lime or strawberry, anyway you choose is a win win!

Little Miss Whiskey

Little Miss WhiskeyLocation:

1104 H Street NE DC 20002

Atmosphere:

Atlas District hideaway with no sign on the door, cheap beer and a glitzy purple and gold decor, technicolor rock posters and loud tunes. It’s a fun place to be when you find yourself on H street after the sun goes down, particularly if you’re already a little hammered.

Specialty Drinks:

Little Miss Whiskey’s famous Frozen Peach Slushee drinks

To cool off in the pool this summer, get wet with DC Clubbing’s DC Summer Pool and Pool Party Guide

A Girl's Summer Fashion Guide to Lace & Crochet

By Ravi in DC Nightlife, Get in Style, Lifestyle
Saturday, June 9, 2012, 1:22am. (Updated: 11/09/13 at 5:08pm) Add comments

Let’s Get Lacy Racy
Contributing Writer Amanda Hanowitz

women's summer 2012 fashion trendsWhen I think of summer only two things come to mind: lace and crochet… and lots of it. They’re really one in the same.

So let’s play the lacy racy game! Kidding, there’s no game. But you should go buy some.

Not all lace is racy, by the way. It just rhymes and sounds cool and should make you want to wear it more.

And there’s lots of ways to wear it!

  1. Crochet can be glued onto jean shorts.
    I’m not telling you to buy a glue gun and ruin your favorite shorts, though it may be a fun project.
    I’m pleading for you to go guy the cutest jean shorts you ever did see.
    (Crochet Bonita Cutoff Shorts on Nasty Gal, Lacey Denim Cutoff Shorts from Free People)
  2. Going to the beach and think you can’t look fly? Think again! Rock a crochet bikini! It’ll have you saying, “I’m confident and cool, I can even rock crochet in a pool.”
    (Belle Crochet Beandeau top from Victoria’s Secret)
  3. Another thing that comes to fashion mind when the topic of summer arises is the sundress, duh. Sundresses are the perfect warm weather staple. They’re oh so easy to wear and instantly make you pretty and put together. Update the classic sundress with an edgier lace alternative.
    (Sleeveless Miles of Lace Dress from Free People).

    Why not wear a lace dress and frolic around the club like a carefree soul who didn’t take long to get ready but still kills it.

women's lace tops club fashionLast and maybe most important: How you can rock this lace or crochet look at the clubs?

We’ve previously talked about how the bralette is taking over. You can rock the lace bralette and kill two looks with one piece!
(Zinke Lace Crop Bralette on Free People)

Maybe wear a top with lace accents, for those of you who like to keep it simple.

This way, you can show other club-goers how cool you are for getting down with the trends while still remaining true to your laid back style.
(Wave Crochet Lace Top from Wasteland)

It’s time to get racy, ladies, and we insist, go buy some lacy.

DC is #1 for Drunkest Singles in America

By Peach in DC Nightlife, Whats hot in DC Nightlife
Friday, May 25, 2012, 10:00pm. (Updated: 10/24/13 at 6:01pm) Add comments

DC Clubbers – Officially the Drunkest Singles in America!

Washington, DC: The nation’s capital. Where the prez lives. Where laws are passed and history is made… and apparently it’s all being done by a bunch of drunk singles!

According to a survey from HowAboutWe.com, the crown for the drunkest singles was based on the highest concentration of single adults plus the highest concentration of users who enjoy hitting the sauce. The article on ‘HowAboutWe’, features an infographic which shows “the cities with the highest and lowest percentages of self-identified drinking levels, based on how people answer the ‘How much do you drink?’ profile question.”

Drinking Chart

Drunk = Happy?

DC singles aren’t cluttering up the local rehab clinic: local women have earned DC an award for being the city with the “Happiest Single Women.” Recent poll results in Glamour Magazine formulated by Match.com found that 86.7% of District women were happy with their dating lives.

Time to Party!

DC’s #1 rating comes at an ironic time, thanks to the recent debate for extending DC drinking hours until 4AM on weekends (in spite of its denial). Since other cities like Miami and Vegas are 24/7, DC drinkers are surprisingly efficient with their drinking habits!

A toast to you single DC drinkers! Let’s keep up our hard partying ways and keep the party going with all our DC Clubbing events!

Drink too much? Check out our Guide to Hangover Helpers.

Get Wet this Summer in DC

By Peach in DC Nightlife, DJ Events, Get in Style
Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 4:33pm. (Updated: 10/24/13 at 6:00pm) Add comments

DC Summer Pool and Pool Party Guide

One may imagine a DC pool party to be a sea of pale coeds mixed in with politicians in American flag draped Speedos donning their white socks, dress shoes and bow ties. Ladies would be showing off their giant hats and cowering under the poolside umbrellas.

Contrary to DC’s conservative reputation, DC boasts several summer pool parties that look more like the left overs still hanging on for dear life from last’s night revelry in the DC nightclubs and bars. This guide will offer the best in poolsides in DC, even if it’s just a hole with water in it so you can cool off!

The Capitol Skyline Hotel

Where:  10 I St SW, Washington DC
What:Pool Party Photo Voted DC’s #1 Pool three years running by The Washingtonian.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it’s not hard for guests to feel as if they have left the city for a more exotic destination. Visit the poolside bar.  Enjoy some food from the grill.  Mingle or just relax.

Renowned for lively parties Saturdays and Sundays

Mother Trucker, seven Saturdays this summer starting May 19, 11am-7pm, $15 to enter pool area

  • 10 bars will be slinging mixed drinks and beer
  • 20 food trucks decamped in the parking lot
  • Four local DJs spinning all day
  • Fire-breathers, aerial artists, multiple moon bounces and a giant Slip ’N Slide on the parking deck

Adult Swim, hosted by, Liquid Lifestyle Sundays this summer starting May 27, noon-6pm (private soft-launch May 20, 2-5pm), $20. Tables are $500, including 2 bottles.

  • Six bars
  • Bottle service (champagne and liquor)
  • A giant grill turning out burgers and dogs all day
  • Local DJs, along with live musicians like bongo drummers and saxophonists
  • Blow-up pool toys and costumed dancers throughout the day

Two summers ago, the Capitol Skyline’s 17,000 square feet pool party event was featured on MTV’s the Real World when the cast made a cameo appearance.  The pool also received coverage from the Washington Post, and DC Magazine.

Adult Swimmers can stay the night at the Capitol Skyline Hotel for the special room rate of $99 by visiting http://www.CapitolSkyl… and entering promo code “ADULT”.

To RSVP, patrons must text their full names to 202-RESERVE. After 1 p.m. or without a text RSVP, cover charge is $20 at the door. For additional information, visit www.DCPOOLPARTY.com.

Fees:  Single: $325 (Summer all access pass)

Donovan Hotel

Where:  1155 14th St. NW
Donovan House PoolWhat:

Situated on the rooftop of Donovan House, this Thompson hotel is home to a smaller pool, which is more of a trendy place to see and be seen rather than swim.  The pool’s bar menu features fare from the hotel’s signature restaurant ZENTAN, specialty cocktails, and an extensive wine list, making it ideal for an early cocktail or a late-night rendezvous in a beautiful setting.

The swimming pool is reserved for hotel guests only during the day.

When:

Pool Hours:

  • Monday-Friday 7 am – 6 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 7 am – 7 pm

Bar Hours:

  • Monday-Friday 5 pm – 1 am
  • Saturday & Sunday 7 pm – 1 am
  • Last call 12:45 am

Liaison Capitol Hill

Where:  415 New Jersey Avenue NW DC
Liasion Hotel PoolWhat:

Sit by the pool after a long day bumping elbows with the politicians on the Hill then come relax at the rooftop pool. The Hill’s one-and-only rooftop pool and bar offers drinks and food and yoga to the public and hotel guests.

No room booked? No problem! The open-air rooftop bar offers free admission daily after 5PM. If you want to soak up the rays and work on that skin cancer, buy a day pass for $20.

When:

The pool is open May 14- Labor Day:

  • Swimming: 10am-10pm
  • Bar Open: 11am-11pm
  • Relax and unwind until midnight

Hilton Embassy Row

Where:  2015 Massachussetts between 20th and 21st
Hilton Embassy Row Swimming Pool

 

What:

Get a bird eye view of the embassies that line embassies that line Massachusetts Avenue while sitting by the heated outdoor pool and sprawling deck from May until October! Just walk up to the front desk, ask for a day pass to the pool, and pay $15 for a day in the sun and enjoy some nice views of Dupont Circle from its rooftop.

When:
  • The pool is open May 1-Oct 31
  • Monday – Sunday: 6am – 10pm

Washington Plaza Hotel

Where:  10 Thomas Circle NW DC
Washington Plaza Hotel

 

What:

Located on Thomas Circle, this hotel is more like a DC resort steps from iconic nation’s capital attractions and nightlife.  Probably DC’s most beautifully landscaped swimming pool, it’s ideal for relaxing, with al fresco dining.

 

 

When:
  • The pool is open May 19- Sept 9
  • A day pass $50
  • A season pass $800/single or $1400/couple.

Or check out the DC Department of Parks and Recreation local pools with free access for DC residents.

Francis Outdoor Pool: Francis Pool is listed as an “aquatic gem” with three pool areas of varying depths. Francis is a great place to cool off and is free to DC residents.

  • Where: 2435 N Street, NW
  • When: Mon-Fri 1:00pm – 8:00pm; Sat & Sun 12:00pm – 6:00pm (Closed Tues)

Wilson Aquatic Center: Wilson Aquatic Center is a great place to swim, especially if you prefer the shade to the sun. The facility offers a large 50-meter lap pool, a leisure pool, and a whirlpool.

  • Where: 4551 Fort Drive, NW
  • When:  Mon-Fri 6:00am – 9:00pm; Sat, Sun 9:00am – 5:00pm

Volta Park Outdoor Pool: This popular pool spot is located in the heart of Georgetown. The Volta Park Pool is surrounded by a “green oasis” and includes other facilities for summer fun such as tennis & basketball courts and a playground for children.

  • Where: 1555 34th Street, NW
  • When: Mon-Fri 1:00pm – 8:00pm, Lap Swim 8:00am – 9:30am; Sat & Sun 12:00pm – 6:00pm (Closed Mon)

Not a DC resident? No problem DPR charges $7 for daily passes.

Want to get out of the City? Check out this guide to DC Summer Beach Escapes and Beyond

Ladies, Go Buy Now: High Fashion Sneakers

By Ravi in DC Nightlife, Get in Style, Lifestyle
Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 9:54pm. (Updated: 5/22/12 at 11:27pm) Add comments
high fashion womens sneakers

Looking to replace your high heels with something more comfortable but still club-appropriate? We’ve got your covered. F*** heels, we came to dance!

The Top 50 DJs in Washington DC

By Ravi in DC Clubs, DC Lounges, DC Nightlife, Whats hot in DC Nightlife
Friday, April 20, 2012, 1:45pm. (Updated: 10/24/13 at 9:39pm) Add comments
dc clubbing top 50 DJs in washington dc nightlife

The best DJs in Washington DC: DC clubbing’s top 50 DJs as voted by the fans of DC nightlife. Featuring the best of dance music, Latin, hip-hop, mash up, pop, international and more!

Alesso Dayglow Washington dc

DC nightlife went hard in the paint with Alesso at Dayglow! Here he drops his infamous hit “Nillionaire” edited with a bit of Porter Robinson.

Vincent Grey Liquor sales extention

DC Mayor Vincent Gray wants to let DC bars serve ’til 4AM on weekends as a way to increase revenue for the District!

Presenting: DC Clubbing's Top 50 DJs

By Garrett Blakeman in DC Nightlife, DJ Events, Whats hot in DC Nightlife
Sunday, March 25, 2012, 7:42pm. (Updated: 10/24/13 at 6:00pm) Add comments
DC Clubbing Top 50 DJ Poll

Presenting Washington, DC’s top 50 DJs! Brought to you by Panorama Productions and Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center.

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