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A few Fridays ago, I decided to have a low-key evening and see a movie. It had been ages since I’d seen a movie on a Friday night, but I didn’t realize just how many ages it had been until I got there. I bought my ticket for the R-rated flick and proceeded to walk toward the nacho stand (and whatever else they might sell there) when I overheard something dismaying. The cashier at the ticket booth asked someone for their ID to see the same movie that I was seeing. He didn’t ask me for my ID! Do I not look like I am still in high school? I was just in high school. But then I looked around and noticed that the joint was lousy with teenagers. Through the dense fog of Abercrombie and Fitch cologne I reached clarity. I had not just been in High School. And don’t get me wrong, that is A-OK with me. I don’t miss being that scrawny kid with the gap-toothed smile. But it did get me thinking. Where do I fall in what I like to think of as a spectrum of maturity; and more importantly, how does that affect my nightlife?

I’ve worked full time every summer since I was 17 so when I started my new job after graduating it was business per usual. June came and went, and then July. Then August rolled around and things changed. As thousands of college students descended upon the city for the beginning of the school year it sunk in that for me, it was still business as usual. I wasn’t buying books or nursing a welcome week hangover. I was going to bed at 11pm and thinking about whether it was a Chop’t Day or a Chipotle day (who am I kidding, it’s a Chipotle day). I found myself constantly thinking about the significance of all of the recent changes in my life.

I’m sure that people my age in New York or LA seldom think about what it means to not be in college anymore, but in DC things are a bit different. After all, there are what, fifty colleges in the city? Not to mention the interns, the grad students, and the adjunct professors. In this town I can’t go five minutes without a reminder of a culture that I am simply no longer a part of. Which is fine, I’ve never been the type to stay too long at the fair. But what culture am I a part of? A night in Adams Morgan or as I like to refer to it, DC’s Frat Party, was an all too real reminder that while I might only be 22, I am not 21. At the same time, cocktails on the rooftop of the W Hotel just doesn’t seem to hit the spot either—it makes me feel like a Real Housewife.

So where to go? Don’t worry ladies and gents I found the Holy Grail. Its name is U Street. I don’t know about you but U Street is one of the few places where I feel at home. Its lousy with broke recent grads that simply can’t take another night of cheap drinks and an even cheaper crowd. DC9, one of my favorite spots, sports a sick playlist and affordable beverages. If you can brave a dirty bathroom then it’s the place for you. It’s a little hipster, so if that isn’t your scene mosey across the street to Brixton. The drinks are a little pricier but the atmosphere more than makes up for it and there’s a rooftop!

In a city with a thriving nightlife and seemingly something for everyone, sometimes people like us can feel a bit left out. There may not be a spot that falls perfectly in line with where we are in our lives; but after all isn’t that what it means to be in your early 20s? Try the U, you’ll feel at home.