Empty Nesters In Search of Live Music and Legal Parking
In their never-ending quest for great local music, these empty nesters encounter a parking quagmire.
As regular readers of this column will know, this empty nester has the pursuit of more live music as one of the goals of this new phase in my life.
My husband and I have explored various music venues in the region, from Baltimore to Annapolis, Rockville to U Street. Recently we attended a venue in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington.
Arlington’s Wilson Blvd. corridor has an enviable plethora of live music venues (and restaurants). We’ve been to Artisphere in Rosslyn, Iota Club and Whitlow’s on Wilson in Clarendon, and have even ventured to Falls Church for gigs at the State Theater and Bangkok Blues. Northern Virginia officials have managed to get the smart growth right, with so much entertainment and shopping adjacent to a central corridor served by Metro.
On this particular occasion, we arrived and promptly found parking at a meter on a street that was right off Wilson Boulevard. It was late, and no meter payments were due. However, we neglected to read the signs, and when we emerged at the end of the performance at 1 a.m., our car was not where we left it!
We then read the signs, and despite the appearance of a public street, complete with meters, it turned out we had parked on private property, upon which parking was forbidden after 11 p.m. Since it was now after 1 a.m., our car had been towed.
A charming adventure launched involving a $10 taxi ride to the tow lot at Ballston, and then just delightful interactions with the staff of the tow company, who first couldn’t find our car after we forked over $115 to get it out of hock. Then they located it in an adjacent lot, but we had to wait another 15 minutes for the car to arrive. While we were waiting for what seemed a really long time in the dark, cold early morning, my husband leaned on a car. This simple and harmless action yielded not a polite request to move, nor understanding of our plight, but a string of invectives screamed at top volume from the women staffing the booth, with the “f” bomb uttered every other word.
While we failed to read and follow the signs, we felt unduly misled by the presence of municipal parking meters on what turned out to be a “private” street just off Wilson Boulevard. We blew it, and we knew it. After discovering our error, we were just trying to quickly pay the fine, retrieve the car, and get back home to Maryland. Instead of just quietly handling an unpleasant situation, the staff of the towing company was rude at best, and abusive at worst.
While no fault of the music venues, how do you imagine we feel about returning to this corridor to spend our entertainment dollars? Perhaps we should have taken Metro, but it takes almost an hour to get from West Hyattsville to Clarendon, and on a weeknight, the train would have stopped running before the show was over.
On a happier note, our own Surf Club Live, located just south of Decatur Street on the east side of Kenilworth Avenue, has started to have live music again on Thursday nights. As I drove the five minutes over there to a DC Blues Society event on Thursday, I was grateful for the short ride, and free ample parking. And, as always, the wonderful music and awesome dance floor were appreciated.
Call me happy to support our local musicians and businesses!