Bars By Kaylee Dugan, Svetlana Legetic, John Marble, Alan Zilberman, Sabrina Kent Tips By Brandon Wetherbee
Traditionally, the holidays are about bringing people together, but they’re also the perfect time to pull them apart. Breaking up with someone right now may seem cruel, but it might also be one of the best gifts you could give them. Everyone is leaving the city, so none of your friends will catch the awkward encounter. They’ll be traveling to / already surrounded by their family and loved ones (for optimal comfort). Plus it gives everyone involved the excuse to eat their feelings. Don’t wait until NYE, get this shit over with.
Below are some places to end a relationship and some tips from people in the industry. This is not a comprehensive of ideal breakup bars. That’s impossible since there are too many variables. Before we begin, here are a few notes for what make a good break-up bar.
- The bar should be no one’s favorite. If it’s where you met, where you’re a regular or on your block, don’t choose it as your break-up location.
- Make sure there are multiple routes to each respective home. Places on busy corners are ideal. If a train is nearby, great.
- Public transportation may be better than driving since you may want to have a few drinks. Public transportation may be better than taking a cab/Uber since you may not want to talk to anyone.
- TVs help. Sometimes distractions help. If a game is on, any game, both parties can hide in a crowded room while the rest of the bar watches some sports competition.
- Unfamiliar is good. Don’t pick a place you or the dumpee sees everyday. Don’t choose somewhere that will remind them of you and vice versa.
- If the bar is outdoors, make sure you do this when it’s acceptable to wear sunglasses or dark enough to hide tears. Breaking up at dusk is mean and it’ll be more difficult to mask emotions.
Without further adieu, here’s where to pull the plug.
Capo Deli or Chicken + Whiskey – Head to the secret bar in the back. Down whatever shot the bartender will give you. When the nightmare is over, go to the front and eat your weight in cold cuts / Peruvian chicken. You’ll be okay.
Black Cat – Some may argue that a busy concert venue is not the right place to have a break-up conversation at, but some (and we fall under THIS “some” category) think that sometimes safety comes in numbers. And noise bleeds from the concert rooms. And those booths that are on the other side of the bar so no one really sees you. And jukebox and pool and pinball distractions. And at least three other separate spaces within the complex for you/them to hide at. And whiskey. Safety always comes in the form of whiskey.
TIP FROM A BARTENDER
Don’t do it at the bar. As a bartender, I’m stuck. I’m behind a bar tending it. That’s my job. I can not get away from your dissolving relationship. I don’t want to witness the end. There are tables available. In most every bar, there’s a table that you can sit at, away from the staff of this fine establishment. Please, sit at a table. Once your partner has left, you’re more than welcome to sit at the bar and tell me your story. That’s fine. That’s part of the job.
The Quill @ Jefferson – Because stateliness of the space (and general centralness of location to both places where you work and places where you live) allows for nothing but civilized conversations. And trust us, you want this to be a civilized conversation. No raised voices. Small to zero chance of running into mutual friends also helps.
TIP FROM A PERFORMER
Don’t do it at a show. Why are you doing this at a show? You’re not here for entertainment, you’re here to do one thing as gently as possible. Doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy show or music show or puppet show, don’t do it here. I worked hard for this. Why are you doing this at a show? I practiced my jokes/songs/puppetry for weeks, month, years, just be on this stage. Have you practiced this breakup for weeks, months, years, just to do it in this bar?
Room 11 – Room 11 is ideally suited for your break-up needs. It is intimate without being fussy. Bartenders mind their business. It is not the sort of place that has regulars, so you will not run into friends. But as with all things, the reason to break up with someone there is location, location, location. It is easy to leave Room 11 for another bar, or a restaurant. If you live in Columbia Heights or U Street, it will not take long to get home. And, hey, if for some reason the break-up doesn’t take and you still end up together with whoever, at least you can attempt a good meal next door at Bad Saint.
TIP FROM A DJ
Don’t request me to play your fuck you song. Fun song requests are fun! Birthday, engagement, job promotion, whatever, sure. Breakup songs are not fun. You are dragging everyone down and I am most likely not going to play it. And you will be upset with me and you will continue to have a bad day. If you really want to hear “Love Stinks” or “Prayer To God,” cue it up on Spotify, go outside and listen on your iPhone while you walk home. Go home. This isn’t a time for dancing. Dance tomorrow. Or just at a different place than where you got dumped.
Jack Rose – Because divvying up the proverbial coffee shop can start straight away as one of you lunges for the tiki bar and the other finds rescue in the warmth of the Dram & Grain whiskey den. Your separate-but-equal post-break-up existence is off to a great start.
TIP FROM THE PERSON SITTING NEXT TO YOU
Please have cash ready. The check may take 30 minutes to arrive. Do you really want to sit next to or across from someone that you just told you don’t want to sit next to or across from in a romantic setting? No. Pay with cash. Don’t make me sit next to this debacle.
Marx Cafe – The best part about Marx Cafe and breaking up at Marx Cafe is that NO ONE at Marx Cafe cares what you are doing. You are at a table, the place is never all that busy and everyone there is sitting and quietly minding their own business at the bar, you start a conversations, everyone is still just sitting there and quietly minding their own business at the bar, voices get raised, everyone is still just sitting there and quietly minding their own business at the bar, maybe one of you storms out (and then storms back in) and guess what? Everyone is still just sitting there and quietly minding their own business at the bar. Short of setting yourself on fire which may attract some attention your way, breaking up at Marx Cafe is the equivalent of breaking up in your living room, if your living room clientele was reminiscent of American Legion (which BTW, we feel would be an amazing place to break up with someone with) and you ran no risk of anything in your living room getting broken or ruined. Trust us on this one. We maybe speak from experience.
TIP FROM A REGULAR
Go somewhere else. Even if everyone here likes you, go somewhere where you’re not a regular. There are bars without regulars. Maybe an airport bar?
Rock and Roll Hotel – The main strength of the Rock and Roll Hotel is that there are three very different levels. Break up on the top floor at the bar and in no time you’re on the second floor dancing wildly with a good looking stranger. The booths across from the bar make it easy to hide your shame, but if it gets a little unruly and loud, that’s fine too! Most of the other patrons are probably too drunk to even notice. Not to mention, you can (and should) drown yourself in cheap beer when it’s all over. The hangover the next day will may even be worse than the heartache.
TIP FROM A BOUNCER
Don’t do it on a Friday or Saturday night. I’m busy on weekend nights. You may think Friday at 6 p.m. is early enough to sit in an empty bar. You might be right, but you also might be stuck in a crowded bar after a few hours and just want to be alone. You don’t want to have to scream over people, explaining the reasons why it just didn’t work out.
Bar Charley – What Bar Charley lacks in space, it makes up for in its decent amount of shadowy hide-y holes. Absolutely no one will be able to see you from the street (thank the good lord for basement bars), and if you grab the right table, not even the other patrons will notice you. Plus, they have an excellent cocktail list and you’re definitely going to need some booze in your system once all of this is over.
TIP FROM THE VALET
Why did you drive together? That was a horrible idea. Why did you drive to a bar to breakup with someone? That’s irresponsible. You should have thought this through. You don’t deserve your former partner. Let me know about this breakup so I can keep your car as close as possible.
Churchkey – It’s so crowded no one will hear you. It’s so crowded no one will even notice you. It’s so crowded none of your friends will probably be there. It’s so crowded that you probably won’t even cry because you’ll be too busy being annoyed by all the goddamned people. Afterwards (or during… or before), you can drown yourself in the finest beer money can buy. That is, if you can even make it to the bar. If you’re a badass who has no feelings, you can even wander downstairs to Birch and Barley and treat yourself to a romantic dinner. Better yet, bring a stranger. Then take the stranger home. That’s an A+ breakup.
Barmini – If you’re going to dissolve your clearly not perfect union, then you might as well go out in style. This is where you want to go if you’re having a civilized break up… or at least a break up so passive aggressive that you’re going to pretend to be civilized. Everything at Barmini is just so quality, I can’t imagine being sad there. If you start to feel down all you have to do is look at the weird furniture, order another cotton candy old fashioned, and then everything will be fine.
TIP FROM A DECENT HUMAN BEING
Do not do this at Destination Wedding. That’s just cruel.
Some suggestions from Brightest Young Gays Team
Dito’s at Floriana’s – There is a reason why Dito’s always makes our “best of” lists. It is simply one of the best bars in D.C. and one of our favorites in the entire country. Located underneath the Italian restaurant Floriana’s, this postage stamp-sized place seats, maybe, eight people tops. While we love it for its cocktails and intimate atmosphere, you’ll love it because there’s just not any room for your date to make a scene. The close confines of the bar itself ensures that you’ll never have to whisper “Sshh…keep it down” while breaking up with your significant other. Dito the bartender is wonderful. Tip him handsomely before your break-up date and he’ll grease the wheels with a “There, there now, honey. Let me pour you something strong,” or even a “Look, you don’t want this guy anyway, trust me.” Bonus: Half-price on bottles of wines each Wednesday and Sunday.
All Souls – Order a craft cocktail, close out, and don’t stick around for dinner. This is easy because — in the food department — All Souls only serves mixed olives and almonds. Once the hard part is over (grabbing an open table), be the bearer of bad news, then get out on U Street to begin your journey as a newly single person in DC. Don’t believe what they tell you — you can take as much (or as little) time as you want before getting back out there.
Dacha Beer Garden – This gay-owned establishment in Shaw has quickly become DC’s official unofficial gay bar. While there are plenty of straight patrons, throngs of gays can be found each sunny weekend afternoon packing this place. Need an easy breakup? Wait until you’re a few beer boots in. Chances are your “other” will be three sheets to the wind by that point (the girls here get messy on the weekends – and by “girls” we mean gay men). Pro: Being lit may help your date easily accept the breakup without pain. Con: Chances are you’ll keep getting sexts from them the next few days as they won’t remember a thing.
Nellie’s – For queer couples (or soon to be singles), take a chance on Nellie’s. I know it sounds cliche, but if an argument ensues — and let’s be honest, regardless of sexual orientation, they often do in these situations — it’ll be too loud for anyone to hear you. Second to that, once it’s done, you can easily slip away into the crowd and leave the not-so-distant memories of your former relationship behind.
This piece originally ran September 17, 2015. -ed