What’s Wrong with DC’s Social Scene?!

A Letter From the Editor

The open bar is flowing and scrumptious passed hors d’oeuvres are flying out of the kitchen from every direction.  The band is playing just the right music, keeping things lively for a guest list peppered with all the right names from all of city’s major industries… and then some.

It seems everybody is there.  On paper this party is hot, hot, hot.  But in reality, it’s just not.

DC’s social outings of late have been planned to perfection, yet strangely unsatisfying.  I’m blaming it on the social awkwardness of the scene.

You know exactly what I mean.

There’s the feeling that the person you’re trying to talk to is staring through you, looking to see if there’s someone better with whom she should be seen.  She is.  You’re standing in that high school-esque small circle watching everyone down G&T’s in silence, waiting for someone to strike up a conversation.  They can’t.  You imagine that guy (who should be your best friend considering you see him out four nights a week) would have something more witty to say than “How have you been since I last saw you?” (Yesterday!) He doesn’t.

Interaction is essential.  And DC just doesn’t know how to do it.

Other cities can poke fun at our fashion, become frustrated with our smaller town ways, and wonder about our obsession with Marion Barry, but we’re good with all of that.  We know who we areBut if this Capital City wants to continue to pride itself on its powerful (and philanthropic!) party scene, a primer is needed.

Because what makes an event memorable – and magnificent – isn’t the champagne and crudites. It isn’t even the glitter decor and giftbags.  It is absolutely the quality of the connections made.

Now I’m not alluding to DC’s ever popular self serving (What can s/he do for me?) kind of connections.  A perfect party  — a social spectacular — needs instead those honest-to-goodness, I had a real discussion… and learned something about someone… and loved it!… kind.

If religion and politics are regrettably off the table (though it’s DC in 2013!) then current events and life happenings need to step up to the banter buffet.  But the city’s socials don’t have a ready knowledge of other topics to pull from even for polite cocktail conversation.  A quick hug and an “It’s sooo good to see you” and your “friend” is circling the room again, looking for more cheeks to kiss and photos to bomb.

Don’t be that soiree shrew.

Remember that a social gathering is not just about seeing and being seen (and photographed) — it’s about being SOCIAL!

Engage.  Actively enjoy time spent with each other.  Be in the moment with the one you’re meeting. Have an interest in hearing about someone else — as well as about sharing some of yourself with them.  Remember something about your friends and acquaintances that you can bring up to spark a meaningful conversation.  And most of all, LIVE LIFE outside of the nightly fun and festivities so that you actually have something to say.

It’s worth it.  I promise that actually enjoying yourself at a gathering — and that means going for something more than a hope to land in some glossy mag photos — is probably the best “giftbag” you can get.  Now go BE SOCIAL!

10 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with DC’s Social Scene?!

  1. I think its more fun to stare silently at people as they talk to you. Just stare into their eyes and flare my nostrils. Quite invigorating

  2. Well put!!! We all work so hard during the week to “work” the scene on the weekend. We don’t Play Hard enough around here! Drop your guard, connect with people, *go there (the place you wouldn’t Go in the office); have a sense of humor.

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  4. Thanks Kate. One of the things that I loved so much about Miami and miss dearly is that people live life out loud and are fearless about it. There, we have no problem being ourselves and sharing it no matter who is around. It always makes for an exciting event because you never know what is going to happen and people are authentic. I find myself nervous in the DC scene because I am getting sized up instantly and invariably I’m not the right size, or too loud, or too something. But never boring. Here, always worried about saying the wrong thing. Usually, I do 🙂

  5. Kate – You hit it dead on!

    Parties are supposed to be fun. Not pretentious!
    As a professional party planner, I pride myself on making sure guests meet and mingle with new faces as well as let go a little at my events.

    I have a feeling that the more people understand that going to a social event means you should be social everyone will enjoy themselves more on the scene!

    Socially yours,

  6. Kudos to “K St. Kate” for a well-written and much needed critique of DC’s social scene.

    Would like to see “Kate, part 2”: with EXAMPLES of “How to Remedy DC’s Social Scene”!

  7. Spot on Kate.

    As much as I enjoyed your birthday party last night (and thanks for the invite), I felt this there, too. It can be really difficult to get a REAL conversation going.

    I want to chat with you about this… I have some thoughts…

    1. Well…. I wish I could agree with you, but I EXPECT less conversation at a NIGHT CLUB. This post was directed to cocktail parties, not night club events. With music that loud, who can have a serious deep convo, Pete? Additionally, it helps to bring a friend with you… solo men in night clubs have been having a hard time meeting people for… ever. That’s not a DC social scene issue 😉

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  9. I completely agree, thanks for writing this. Your comment about living life OUTSIDE the party scene to be able to say something interesting/fun/witty/enjoyable at an actual party is dead on.

    However, letting one’s guard down to display those qualities is difficult in a town where the personal and professional are so intertwined. And let’s face it, people come to DC for work (usually of the political kind in some sense); not because they are interested in the local art scene or for an overwhelming desire to stand out: quite the opposite really. That doesn’t mean it can’t be (or become) a cool place and I mean no disrespect to some of the people I really care about who still live there; but the one dimensional person who has never been outside the “scene” in Gtown, or who is angling for networking opportunities at a fete or gossiping will always make DC’s party scene devoid of excitement. Individuality is what makes people interesting and the parties with the most unique “individuals” willing to break down those barriers all the more fun! I hope the majority of DC catches on and the people I know who are amazing jewels there start to multiply!

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