Dear PoPville – Where Should I have my Birthday Celebration?

Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

Dear PoPville,

I am trying to celebrate my birthday. I am planing to invite about 12 friends and I don’t want to spent a lot of money.

I have heard about places renting room for Karaoke or game or some kind of entertainment, could you or you reader recommend something?

Some background, I am early 30, female, laid back, most of my friends are the same age range, although I love dancing, going with my friends to the club is not an option.

I want something fun, BYOB, but I could pay for the entertainment, maybe a cake and champagne.
A friend of mine had a birthday dinner at Cafe romeo in Georgetown, there you can bring your own wine, there are very nice and your guest pay for their own food, but I didn’t love the food (just my opinion), a similar place would work for me.

Hmm what about Muzette for karaoke in Adams Morgan? I also think the new Riot Act Comedy club could be fun in Penn Quarter. Or perhaps the new Hamilton 24 hour spot at 14th and F St, NW? Where would you guys recommend?

49 Comment

  • MY BIRTHDAY IS THIS SUNDAY!!! And I have no plans. This is a perfect post for me! I considered going to the Hamilton, seems pretty hip and 24 hours is awesome! She needs to have a joint birthday party with me! CAPRICORNS UNITE! I don’t have a lot of friends so I never do a big celebration. But it’d be great to meet other birthday people who are willing to collaborate!

    • I wouldn’t suggest spending your birthday at the Hamilton this year… maybe Jan. 2013. I work nearby, have been several times, and let’s just say, their service still needs to work out a few kinks. Not your place to “have your cake and eat it too,” because chances are, they forgot you ordered it in the first place. I’d suggest letting the Hamilton have their 1st birthday before you spend yours there.

      • Agreed with MK . . . went to the Hamilton with a group of friends last week to see a musical performance and was underwhelmed, to say the least. Food was mediocre and the service sucked. It took, literally, 10-15 minutes to get a drink . . . though the place was nearly empty . . . while the bussing staff hovered and had to be stopped repeatedly from whisking away plates with food still on them. They need fewer bussers and more servers and more hustle. I hope they get their act together, because the physical space is pretty nice.

    • Mine is the 8th too!!! Super Twins activate! I hope you’re old enough to know what I’m talking about or I just dated myself. LOL. Either way, happy birthday. Enjoy

    • I am up for a join party!! if you are serious about this get my email from POP, other Capricorns welcome πŸ™‚

  • I suspect the OP is going to have a difficult time getting a private room for free/cheap AND getting permission for BYOB.

    Usually the deal with getting a private room is that the establishment figures it’ll be making good money from the drinks/food ordered. (I believe some have minimums.)

  • Perhaps helpful: OpenTable has a listing of free corkage/BYOB places in DC

  • The “Big Al Room” at Millie & Al’s can usually be opened for private/semi-private parties. They do karaoke on Thursdays and have DJs on Friday and Saturday. The space is smaller and doesn’t feel as “college-y” as the main bar.

  • I kind of like going to Marrakesh on New York Ave for group outings. We simply divide the bill by the amount of people. I believe it was around $60 per person in the past? Now that included a several course meal, a lot of wine and the belly dancing show.

    Also, Perry’s drag show Sunday brunch in Adams Morgan is awesome!

  • You could go to Vapiano – my friend had a space reserved there for a group about that size and it was very spacious. It’s a decent place but the biggest plus for a big group IMO is that everyone can easily pay for themselves. Or you could have a long, drawn out meal at Marrakesh and watch bellydance.

    Regardless of what you choose to do then you might be better off bringing your own cake (there will likely be a cake-cutting fee) and/or wine (but will likely have a cork fee). You’d still be saving money though. I’m not sure if you actually want a private space or not (that’ll definitely add up since there is almost always a minimum charge like textdoc said).

    Have a great birthday!!

  • So let me get this straight. Your Cafe Romeo friend had people bring their own drinks AND pay for their own food? That’s not a party, that’s highway robbery. I hope you’re not planning on subjecting your friends to that.

    I expect your requirements of BYOB + private room will leave you empty handed, but you never know. What exactly is in it for the restaurant in that arrangement anyway? Have the party at home (heck, you could do a potluck) or pony up and actually HOST your guests. Please just don’t force your friends to shell out their hard-earned dollars to celebrate you.

    • I have to disagree. In my circles, when it’s somebody’s bday and a group of us goes to dinner we pay our own way, as well as splitting the bday boy/girl’s dinner.

    • It’s usually the other way around where your friends and family treat you on your birthday.

      • ah

        But your friends/family get together and say “let’s treat X” make arrangements, and decide upon an allocation of costs on their own. They aren’t told where to meet, when, and how much they are expected to pay or bring.

        I realize there are different views on this, but I’m not a fan of invitations to pay for someone else’s whatever.

    • I agree with cr. If you’re inviting your friends out to celebrate your birthday, you pay. If your friends invite you out to celebrate your birthday, they pay. At least that’s how I was raised.

      • Makes perfect sense to me.

      • +100

        i went to a b-day party at a somewhat expensive restaurant for a friend (she set it up and invited everyone). when the check came, she said – ok, you guys can pay for me since it’s my b-day. honestly, i was planning to cover her meal/drinks, but the presumption that i would pay was so annoying.

        rule: if you host the party/dinner/whatever, you pay. unless your party is potluck/byob and explicitly stated on the invite, it’s rude to expect others to cover the costs for a party you threw for yourself.

  • order some good food from a restaurant you like and serve it at your house and have game night (Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples, Pictionary, poker, whatever people play these days).

  • a friends house?

    • Or your own house/apartment. I was lucky enough to have a friend plan a surprise party for me a year ago where all my friends showed up at a restaurant. However, for other birthdays (mine and my friends’), I play hostess. We do fancy dinners I create or potlucks. Sometimes, we keep it simple and do hors d’ouvres and wine. I am a strong believer in bringing back the dinner party. It shows thoughtfulness and almost always yields good times.

  • This sounds difficult. From my experience with group outings at places that offer BYOB, they will still charge you because they can’t allow you to serve yourself, plus they’re not making the money they would usually make if you didn’t BYOB… at least in NOVA it’s like this, not sure about DC. There’s a place in Adams Morgan where you can rent a karaoke room by the hour but I think it’s required that you also buy drinks and/or food, maybe you can try calling them and negotiating it with them.

    Or Can you have it a friends place and rent a karaoke machine or some other entertainment?

  • Well, if you purchase a backgammon table there are any number of places in NY that will let you sit down and play for free. But don’t try that sh*t in DC.

  • Lucky Strike, or whatever it is called in Penn Quarter is pretty cool. You pay for Bowling and they can buy their own drinks.

  • What about HR-57? There is a cover, but they let you BYOB with only a small corkage fee ($3/person, I believe). They don’t have private rooms, but it’s never been too crowded when I’ve been in there, so I think a group of 12 would have plenty of room. And, unlike some other jazz clubs, they don’t seem to mind if patrons make a small amount of noise during the show. I know it doesn’t fit exactly what you’re looking for, but it might be a fun place for a smallish get-together.

    • While I love HR-57, please do not encourage people to go there to talk. It’s a great place but it can be difficult to enjoy the music when people are chatting throughout a show.

      • I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. People quietly chatting toward the back have never distracted from my enjoyment of the show while I’m there.

        • Oh, and I should add that I wasn’t “encouraging people to go there to talk,” but rather noting that it’s not a problem if you utter a few sentences to the person next to you during the show. (I’m not sure why anyone would go to a jazz club to talk, sounds like a silly idea, but the fact that you’re not glared at if you’re not completely silent is one of the things I love about HR-57 in comparison to other jazz clubs I’ve been to!)

      • dt


        Small amounts of chatter, in the rear, are OK, but please be mindful of the musicians and the show! Most of us are there to actually listen to the music. There are plenty of other places on H St to just hang out.

        • It seems like we’re in perfect agreement. I was referring to small amounts of chatter, which is why I said “a small amount of noise.” Since two people seem to have misunderstood me, I obviously wasn’t clear enough!

          • dt

            No, just a simulpost – yours hadn’t appeared yet when I started typing my reply!

          • dt

            Or rather, your clarifications hadn’t appeared… I do share Anonymous’ worry about talking during the show, since disruptive talking seems to happen quite often there and is quite annoying!

  • Townhouse Tavern upstairs.

  • Over the years my friends have had birthday parties in otherwise un-used rooms on non-peak nights at local bars and restaurants including Wonderland, Madam’s Organ and Childe Haralod (rip) and some Indian restaurants. If the restaurant/bar is open anyway but a room is not being used, they should be happy to let you have it for something like a 3 drink per person minimum, good tips for the bartender, and even let you bring in your own food (plus paper plates etc. and clean up yourself.

  • Ew don’t go to Lucky Strikes. Go to the bowling alley on Fort Myer army base in Arligton. It’s really really cheap (like $2 shoes and $3-4 games). Beer and food is also really cheap and the lanes and decor are really clean and nice. Plus I’ve always found plenty of open lanes on Friday and Saturday nights.

    Only downside is you really have to get there by car(though u could walk 30 min from metro) and they do a quick inspection of your car when you arrive on the ase. Nothing scary and they are all really polite and give you directions. Also don’t have to be in the army to go in and foreigners are welcome on base. Check Yelp for more.

  • Thanks everyone here, so many great ideas! So far I am thinking about bowling and I will check other ideas suggested here.
    Happy birthday to other Capricorns πŸ™‚ my bday is January 9, but would plan something for Friday.

    • Or how about ice-skating at the sculpture garden? Fun activity that most don’t think about – and is always more fun in a group anyway. There is a concession place – though extremely, stupefyingly slow and expensive – but a few discreet Thermos flasks should not arouse suspicion. Then arrange a couple of taxis to take everyone someplace for drinks.

  • The third floor room at Madams Organ is highly recommended. Tons of charm, they posted a bouncer at the door, private bar to ourselves, let us plug our iPod to their stereo, very friendly, etc. Also no cover obviously. Might be better for a bigger group tho.

  • I’m guessing this will be shot down pretty quick, but Nick’s Night Club in Alexandria is tons of fun! Line dance lessons, two-stepping, plus a separate bar with karaoke in the back for those who don’t like the country dancing.

    I did dinner at ThaiTanic followed by drinks across the street at Church Key with a large group for my b-day. Good times!

  • My birthday was the 5th πŸ™‚ So this year I didn’t have a party but have had many in the past. One of my favorites was at Ulah on 14th. They gave us the upstairs section with the windows in the front. No charge for the space. We had Georgetown Cupcakes delivered and ordered several appetizers. They set up a nice food display for us and brought out the cupcakes. We had the guests pay for their own drinks along with some drink specials of our own. It was wonderful, the space is nice. I had about 30 people. Happy Birthday!

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