February 22, 2011 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Buddha Bar’s gay night delights

The mammoth Buddha statue that lords over the new Buddha Bar on Massachusetts Ave. (Photo courtesy of Buddha Bar)

So many of D.C.’s gay bars are holes in the wall. And that’s fine — I love a good dive sometimes. But sometimes it is nice to hang out a trendier spot and that’s exactly what Buddha Bar provides with its Sunday night “gay night.”

I checked it out two evenings ago and had more fun that I’ve had out in eons. A big part of it was the crowd — I ran into several friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, but the space is really what blew me away. The room is cavernous. Not Convention Center cavernous, but mammoth nonetheless. I’d seen photos of the interior before but had no way to put it in perspective until I saw it in person.

The Buddha statue that’s the focal point of the room lords over the space like the Lincoln Memorial statue. Even with loud dance music waffling through the room (loud, but not deafening or conversation-defeating) and a bustling late-night crowd of hundreds, the Buddha and the decor in general give the room a serenity. I didn’t eat dinner — though it’s served til midnight and several were eating — but I can’t wait to go back sometime for sushi.

The drinks were great, too. I didn’t order anything fancy — just gin and tonic — but even with the dense crowd, I never had to wait more than a couple minutes to get a bartender’s attention. And the cocktails were reasonably priced in the $6-$7 range. I never had that heavy Halo-esque feeling of, “Oh god, I better watch it here before I drop a hundred bucks on three or four rounds.”

Though the DJ was great, her booth — an odd little balcony/pod coming out of the wall from on high — was the only thing that didn’t gel with the rest of the decor, which is full of warm earth tones, mammoth Sri Lanka-esque chandeliers and mirrors as big as basketball courts.  The sheer scope of this place is dazzling.

Oddly, though, there was no dance floor. There was enough open space that a few who couldn’t resist were shimmying in place, but no place to really “get down.” I didn’t miss it, but for some it could be a deterrent.

Buddha is on Massachusetts Ave. near Union Station. That part of the street is a little tough to navigate — you can’t just take the spoke off Thomas Circle and get there in a straight shot. But once you find it, parking is pretty easy. I found a great spot one street over. This is my new Sunday night hangout!

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

2 Comments
  • The 2nd to last point about there being no dance space sums up why, despite it being a pleasant enough venue, it’s doomed to fail as a successor to Lizard Lounge. Lizard Lounge popped up in some non-divey spots, but what drew the crowd was DJ Kostas and the opportunity to get your groove on one last time before Monday morning.

    I was highly disappointed and won’t be returning.

  • I wouldn’t mind checking it out, but unfortunately I have to get up early on Monday morning. It would be great if Buddha Bar could bring back the concept of the tea dance.

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