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Why I hate Jewish happy hours

I work for a Jewish nonprofit that is perhaps best known in some circles for our happy hours that “Gather the Jews” of DC together at trendy bars throughout the city every month.

These happy hours have been gracing our Jewish community since the good ole days of 2010. Over the past nine years, these monthly gatherings have helped thousands of young DC-area Jews with diverse interests, backgrounds, levels of religiosity, professions, and relationship statuses make their bubbies proud.

And yet, if I earned a shekel for every time someone in the community has said “I hate those Jewish happy hours”, I’d be floating on a blow-up unicorn in my private infinity pool full of hummus right about now. #lifegoals

But, I digress.

The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a large percentage of the young Jewish DC community that feels happy hours, well, kind of suck. As the person who does the marketing for these happy hours, and as a regular attendee myself, I decided it might be a really good idea to compile a list of reasons why.

1. You have to make painfully awkward small talk with strangers.

Yes. I feel this one. I mean, how many times are people going to ask “What do you do?” Seriously? Even though I spend 60% of my waking hours at my job, it’s such a random question! Plus, small talk is boring and leads to nowhere.

And yes, maybe it was small talk at GatherDC happy hours that led me to meet the woman who became my boss, the people who became some of my closest friends in DC, and the man who became my husband. But really – enough with the small talk.

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2. You have to pay $5 to get into the happy hour and don’t even get a free drink!

Look, it’s not like I can’t afford the $5, it’s the principle of it! Why should I have to put $5 of my hard-earned money toward an entry fee to these happy hours? It would be one thing if that money was supporting something important, like a local Jewish nonprofit organization that is a pretty big part of my life in DC. But I have no idea where that money is going.

Ugh, I’ll just head home. Hold on though, let me stop by Sweetgreen to get a $14 salad.

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3. You’re peer-pressured into wearing a name-tag.

It’s awful. I hate having to go through the effort of taking 12 seconds to write my name on a sticker. Also, sticking the sticker to my beautiful outfit totally ruins the look I was going for. Everyone at these fashion-forward happy hours really cares what I’m wearing.

I would much rather have people ask me 17 times to repeat my name because they have trouble remembering.

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4. You have to be happy for a full hour – or more!

What if I had a bad day at work and am feeling stressed out? What if my mom just called nagging me and I’m super annoyed? What if I just ate three slices of cheese pizza but I’m lactose intolerant so I’m feeling extremely bloated? The pressure to be forced into happiness for an extended period of time is almost too much for me to handle.

What’s that you say? GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek already made it clear that all emotions are welcome at Jewish happy hours? So, I can come as my real, authentic self even if that means I’m full of annoyance or exhaustion or sadness? Alright then, I’m going to show up to the next happy hour with a big pouty face on. Just you wait.

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5. There’s way better things I could be doing with my night.

I work hard during the day and when the clock strikes 6pm, the night is my oyster (#notkosher). Why spend it in a bar full of potential new friends? My Netflix app gets mad at me when I don’t binge watch “The Office” for the eighth time.

Yeah, meeting awesome young adults and finding connection to Jewish DC life is definitely not how I want to spend an hour of my night.

 

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In sum, it seems that these Jewish happy hours we love to hate are the same places that we can find our future community, roommates, soulmates, friends, and colleagues. They have the potential to connect us to one another, and help us find one of our places in the Jewish community. It’s these very happy hours that, while at times awkward, might just be the starting point to living your very best Jewish life. And hey, if they suck – you can always go home to spend the rest of the night with Dwight Schrute and your Sweetgreen salad.

P.S. Our next happy hour is May 22nd at Takoda. See you there?


P.P.S. We fully understand that happy hours just might not be your scene. Some people don’t like spending time in bars or feel uncomfortable in large groups of people. Our only goal at GatherDC is to help you find your fit in Jewish DC life – however that works best for you. If happy hours aren’t for you, there is zero pressure to attend. We have tons of other ways for you to connect to Jewish life! We can connect you to intimate cohort experiences, Jewish learning, volunteer opportunities, and a huge calendar with amazing events around the city. If you’re not sure where to begin, let’s grab coffee (our treat!) so we can help you find your people and place in this community. No happy hour attendance required. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Announcement: Happy Hours to be called All-Emotions Hours

“Happier” times. What about the angry or surprised times?

In response to feedback from our community, we will be changing the name of our monthly happy hours to “all-emotions hours.” We regret our role in reinforcing systemic emotional inequalities by perpetuating the happiness hegemony, and we hope this change will encourage people of all emotions to feel more comfortable in our spaces.

Our happy hours were intended to be open, inclusive spaces where people of all emotions could be hit on by creepy men. Names matter, and the name “Happy Hour” clearly privileges happiness over other feelings like sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. When people leave feeling disgusted, we want them to know that’s totally OK.

We were surprised to learn that there are more than five emotions, a misconception that persists due to the constant exclusion of lesser-known emotions in movies like Pixar’s “Inside Out.” We were then surprised – again – to learn that “surprise” itself is one of those lesser-known emotions. These emotions have been so marginalized in our society that we didn’t even recognize it within ourselves. Clearly, then, we weren’t honoring it within others.

Sure enough, looking through photos from our past happy hours, we realized that not a single other emotion besides happiness was represented; we’re ashamed and embarrassed that every single photo featured people who were smiling or laughing. 

Moving forward, we will make sure we photograph people experiencing the full range of human emotions.

Originally, we thought about highlighting a different, underrepresented emotion each month – e.g. September’s Sad Hour or April’s Angry Hour. But then it was pointed out to us that this still would be favoring one emotion over all the others. To truly break the happiness hierarchy, we needed to make space for all emotions at every hour.

So long Pharrell.

We are also becoming increasingly sensitive to the role of our implicit biases in all of this. One additional change that will take effect immediately will be changing the music that is played. We will never again play “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, nor any song from Uncle Kracker’s album “Happy Hour,” even though “Smile” is a pretty great song and – be honest – you haven’t heard it in a while and kind of want to hear it again.

We have also set up monthly “open meetings” to help us better reach out to all emotions, though so far only the emotions of “pissed,” “righteously indignant,” “bored” and “gassy” have been represented. And if you’re thinking, like we were thinking, that “gassy” isn’t an emotion, then maybe you should think about whether you really want to be policing what is and is not a legitimate emotion – a lesson we had to learn the hard way.

To reiterate – no one emotion is better than any other emotion. We may not validate your parking, but we validate whatever emotion you’re feeling, even if it’s anger at our not having validated your parking. Also, to reiterate – we don’t validate parking.

We acknowledge that some may feel that all of this change is happening too fast, while others may feel that we’re not going far enough. (It’s been pointed out that “all-emotions hour” still privileges the hour over other units of time.) Still, we hope this is a step in the right direction, and we appreciate your patience as we grow together through this learning experience.

See you at next month’s all-emotions hour!

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!

350 Gathered for the GTJ April Happy Hour

GTJ Founder Aaron W., JGOTYs Joe B. and Lindsey S., GTJ Director Rachel G.

GTJ Founder Aaron W., JGOTYs Joe B. and Lindsey S., GTJ Director Rachel G.

This past Monday, Gather the Jews held its April Happy Hour and JGOTY Competition at Penn Social.

350 gathered.

40 signed up the for the Be The Match registry.

7 were finalists for the Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year Competition (see the finalist videos here).

2 were crowned Jewish Girl and Guy of the Year. Read Lindsey and Joe‘s acceptance speeches.

A good time was had by all.

See some pictures here.