Nightmare on M Street -- in case you moved here yesterday -- is D.C.’s biggest costumed bar crawl, now in its 12th year. On the Saturday night before Halloween, crowds converge on bars spanning from Foggy Bottom to Dupont Circle. Coordinators expect a turnout of more than 8,000.
But in recent years, participants have complained that the sheer volume has led to unbearable crowding and interminable drink lines. Some reviewers on Yelp have recommended simply attending a house party instead.
"I went a few years ago," Aleesha "P. wrote. "It was ridiculously crowded at every step along the way. To get your bracelet for the drink specials alone, you have to wait a half hour or 45 minutes. Some bars get so packed there's a wait to get in. To me, it's not worth it. Sure, you might end up spending a bit more money if you just hit up some local bars, but the money spent will be well worth the aggravation saved."
We spoke with Wendy Wagman of Lindy Promotions, the company organizing the event, about some of these concerns. In response to complaints, Lindy has added more bars to the crawl to help disperse crowds.
Wagman also recommended starting early and checking out some of the lesser known venues. This year, 17 bars in total will participate, including Madhatter, Rumors, The Front Page, Black Rooster Pub, Sign of the Whale, Public Bar, BlackFinn and Buffalo Billiards.
IF YOU GO:
Tickets are currently $12.50, but prices will rise the closer you get to the event, so if you're willing to brave the crowds, you can buy 'em online here.
Drink specials range from $2 Coors Lights to $4 Bacardi Oakheart drinks. Red Bull drinks and Blue Moon will also be discounted. McFadden’s also hosts a costume contest with prizes like tickets to 9:30 Club concerts.
Walk-up tickets and registration will be available from 5-10 p.m. at McFadden’s (2401 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.), The Front Page (1333 New Hampshire Ave. N.W.) and Mackey’s (1823 L St. N.W.). If you can’t get tickets, be prepared to pay covers at all the bars.
"I usually do Nightmare on M Street," Tara L. wrote on Yelp. "A ton of restaurants, bars and lounges participate in this and you can hop around pretty easily. Also, [it's] Metro-accessible and the Dupont area is a bit crazy in general that night!"
Crowds can be a problem any given Saturday night in the District, but bars and crowds are at least more fun if everyone’s in costume. Start the night early, avoid the hotspots, and be prepared for anything.