One of Washington's few clubs devoted to indie pop, DC9 (1940 Ninth St., NW; 202-483-5000; dcnine.com) keeps the hip crowd moving to cutting-edge music. The main attraction is the Liberation Dance Party on Fridays. Bill Spieler spins artists such as the Kaiser Chiefs, Postal Service, White Stripes, and Gorillaz while a giant screen shows an offbeat variety of music videos, campy movies, skateboarding films, and the like. Spieler posts his set list online (liberationdanceparty.com) for those who can't get an unidentifiable song out of their heads. Cover $5 after 10 PM. Other dance parties include Thursday night's Laundry (new indie rock and classic postpunk; free) and Sunday night's Taint (indie pop, new wave, and electroclash for a mostly gay crowd; $3).
With Hotspot Fridays, Arlington's Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd.; 703-469-2244) offers a night of fun in a spacious hall that's as sophisticated as the DC megaclubs but minus the high prices and long lines. Dress is slightly relaxed–jeans are permitted–but it's a stylish crowd of largely postcollege professionals. Music ranges from Top 40 to hip-hop and R&B and occasionally dips into '80s new wave and '90s rock. Drinks are well mixed and well priced ($4.75). Cover $5. Most Tuesdays the ballroom hosts swing dances with bands ($10). In the summer and fall, Thursdays are set aside for rock and pop bands, and the roof deck is a popular Wednesday hangout. Many other nights, the ballroom is booked for private events.
Here's a Bethesda bar with a little of everything. At Union Jack's British Pub (4915 St. Elmo Ave.; 301-652-2561; unionjacksbethesda.com), twentysomethings pack the dance floor on weekends for a mix of sing-out-loud '80s hits and hip-hop. If you're not into dancing, there's a comfortable billiards-and-darts parlor, a dining room with stone fireplace and lounge, and 17 televisions–Redskins fans gather here on game days. In the restrooms are bottles of perfume and cologne as well as baskets of Tic Tacs, chewing gum, and lollipops.
Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.