News

Secrets of DC: Your How-To Guide to Living In Washington

Secrets of DC: Your How-To Guide to Living In Washington
Illustration by Jason Schneider.

Washington is full of very smart people with secrets to share. So we asked dozens of the area’s cognoscenti to dish. What are tricks for making great small talk at a party? What’s a sure-fire way to get out of jury duty? How can you get a meeting with someone powerful? In this guide, you’ll find advice on matters that confront just about every Washingtonian—whether you’ve always wondered how to get invited to a White House state dinner, how to tell if your neighbor is a spy, or how to ask someone that classic DC question “What do you do?” in a less obnoxious way.

1. How to Be Friends With Someone Whose Politics You Disagree With

Photographs by Cultura/Getty Images.
Photographs by Cultura/Getty Images.

Former senator Tom Coburn shares his expert advice. Read more…


2. How to Work a Room

Roxanne Roberts, a Washington Post reporter who regularly writes about the social doings of Washington’s elite, shares her pro tips. Read more…


3. How to Avoid Getting “Dock Blocked” On a Capital Bikeshare Bike

The Capital Bikeshare program manager shares her pro tips. Read more…


4. How to Get Access to Powerful People

A lobbying group chairman shares his tricks. Read more…


5. How to Talk Baseball With a Professional

Photograph by Flickr user Scott Ableman.
Photograph by Flickr user Scott Ableman.

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals first baseman, shares his pro tips. Read more…


Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

6. How to Get an RSVP to an Unanswered Invitation

Judith Martin, a.k.a. Miss Manners, the etiquette columnist shares with us her expert tips. Read more…


7. How to Get a Good Seat on a Crowded Amtrak Train

A redcap at Union Station lets us in on pro secrets. Read more…


8. How to Handle Snow Like a Pro

Snow advice from a Washingtonian raised in Buffalo. Read more…


9. How to Have a Good Conversation at a Party

Illustration by Jason Schneider.

NPR’s Ari Shapiro gives us four ways to make small talk less awkward. Read more…


10. How to Tell If Someone Is a Spy

A former CIA operative gives us a guide to spotting a spy. Read more…


RELATED: Four books to help you navigate Washington like a pro.


11. How to Get Into DC’s Hottest Clubs

Tip No. 1: network on social media. Read more…


12. How to Arrange a “Gift” of Marijuana

Photograph by The Image Bank/Getty Images.
Photograph by The Image Bank/Getty Images.

Since it’s against the law to buy cannabis from people in DC, the cofounder of Capitol Hemp shares how to properly “gift” weed. Read more…


13. How to Give a Killer Toast at a Wedding

A speechwriter for Vice President Joe Biden tells hows how we can nail it. Read more…


14. How to Take a Selfie With a Celebrity

The Chew’s Carla Hall dishes on how to do it the right way. Read more…


15. How to Make the Guest List for a State Dinner

A former White House social secretary shares her pro tips. Read more…


16. How to Avoid Getting Sick When You Meet and Greet All Day

Photograph via iStock.

Dr. Anthony Fauci shares his pro tips. Read more…


17. What to Say to Someone In the Middle of a Public Embarrassment

Anthony Weiner, a former congressman who resigned after explicit tweets of him surfaced, gives advice to those stuck in the middle of a public nightmare. Read more…


18. How to Get Out of Jury Duty

A renowned DC criminal and civil-defense lawyers tells us how to get of the hook. Read more…


19. How to Play a Game Against Your Boss That You’re Better At

Arne Duncan, who’s known to play pick-up with President Obama, says: “No mercy.” Read more…


20. How to Politely Say No to a Request

Photograph via iStock.

David Rubenstein demonstrates. Read more…


21. How to Ask Someone in a More Courteous Way “What Do You Do?”

An etiquette consultant shares how to ask without seeming rude. Read more...


22. How to See Stars in the Sky Close to DC

A NASA employee shares the best spots to stargaze around Washington. Read more…


23. How to Resolve a Dispute With Your Neighbor

We talked to a lead US negotiator in last year’s deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Because there’s no messing around when it comes to settling a disagreement between neighbors. Read more…


24. How to Tell If Someone Is Lying

A former FBI assistant director shares four ways you can spot a liar. Read more…


25. How to Score the Best Spot at Your First Indoor Cycling Class

Illustration by Jason Schneider.
Illustration by Jason Schneider.

Four tips from a Zengo instructor. Read more…


26. How to Eat Dinner On 14th Street With No Reservation

A 14th Street resident shares her insider tips. Read more…


27. How to Look Crisp and Professional When You Commute to Work By Bike

A cyclist who has been riding to work for 20 years lets us in on his secret to staying fresh. Read more…


28. How to Bring Your Dog to Work (And Not Be a Jerk)

A congressman shares how to bring your furry pal to work without annoying everyone in the office. Read more…

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Bikes and Hikes, Fairs and Festivals, Great Small Towns, and the Washington Bucket List. She lives in Arlington.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.

Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She recently wrote “A Murder on the Rappahannock,” a two-part investigation into the troubling, decades-old slaying of a young mother in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Jackson Knapp
Assistant Editor