By Mandy Dean – Washington, DC

You’re ready.

Your phone—charged. Your hair—straightened. Your outfit—on fleek. The DC bar scene ain’t ready for your shine tonight, girl. Meeting your college friend for drinks downtown is just what you need after a long week of office hustle.

After your excited chatter and huge bear hugs, you and your bestie settle in at the bar for a marathon gab-fest. You catch up on what happened to that guy from your English Lit class, and reminisce on that night in your dorm the two of you stayed up until dawn binging Netflix while gorging on Chex Mix and Orange Fanta.  

A night out with an old friend done right.

Shaw’s Tavern, a member of the Safe Bars program

But then, an unknown man waltzes up and nestles himself between your bar stools. Politely requesting he sulk back to his booth across the bar however, does not do the trick. He plops down beside you and insists on ordering you a refill. Undoubtedly a charmer in his own mind, Mr. Uninvited commences to join your conversation. You shift uncomfortably and gaze around the bar for an “out.”

Good thing you and your friend opted to catch-up tonight at a DC “Safe Bar.”

Your silent plea is immediately detected and with suave authority your attentive bar tender intervenes. Mr. Uninvited’s attention is redirected and, realizing he’s been put on notice for his aggressive targeting, he apologizes and slinks away.

Safe Bars is a program designed to teach bar staffers how to identify and prevent unwanted attention and sexual harassment. Those in the service and nightlife industry are in a unique position to help otherwise vulnerable bar patrons. By teaching bystander intervention techniques, Safe Bars engages employees and management in efforts to keep our city spaces safe and inviting to everyone.

With lofty goals of transforming America’s bar culture, Safe Bars has already achieved success in introducing their training programs to more than 20 area bars. In response to heightened levels of unease among bar goers since the election, Safe Bars has noted an urgent uptick in requests for their training and resources city-wide.

The comprehensive program is a collaboration between two fierce and feminist grassroots organizations, Collective Action for Safe Spaces and Defend Yourself. You can support their efforts to inform and educate by visiting participating bars and spreading the word throughout the District.

So before you make plans for next weekend, check out the current listings of certified “Safe Bars” here.

Already out and about? Look for a “Safe Bar” window decal and bar hop accordingly. Your favorite spot not on the list? We encourage you to dash up to the bar and request they commit to providing their customers a safe space to dine, drink and dance.

Safe Bars window decal

Whether catching up with your best friend for drinks and desserts, or busting moves on a crowded dance floor with your crew, you should never be made to feel startled or solicited in a public space. So go ahead: buy that third round for the table; stay out that extra hour; shimmy and shake all night— Safe Bars DC has your back.

For more information about how you can make Safe Bars a thing in your city, hit up lauren@safebars.org or call 202.930.0456.