The Spelling Buzz

Trivia nights test a hodgepodge of knowledge, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to intelligence. To quantify one’s intellect, especially while drinking, it takes innovation. That’s where The Rock & Roll Hotel’s Spelling Buzz comes in.

The Washington, D.C., establishment known for its raucous concerts also takes guests back to grade school with its monthly Spelling Buzz, held the last Friday of each month. But, this time, the stakes are higher, as participants are encouraged to drink their way through the dictionary.

“You have to have a drink in your hand to compete,” explains Lizzy Lowenberg, marketing assistant at the bar.  “Everyone’s drinking,” which is one of the draws to the competition, she says, and between rounds participants are encouraged to get another drink or the crowd “will heckle them to drink more,” adds Lowenberg. The set up lends to the interaction, “you have to think back to grade school and sit on the bleachers on the stage,” Lowenberg explains.

But it’s not all about the booze. “It’s fun and interactive. It gets really silly.” Though it’s not too silly; patrons are challenged to spell actual “big, hard words,” she says. And the stakes are high. The first-place finisher wins a $60 bar tab and the second-place finisher gets a $30 bar tab.

Lowenberg says anyone can sign up, though they generally cut it off at 40 people. They also offer Spelling Buzz drink special for participants includes $6 Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and a shot of whiskey.

The promotion, overall, is “just a fun event to get people in here and excited about the venue,” she explains. “It’s not a money-maker for us.” For clientele, however, it’s an entertaining way to start a Friday night.

“It’s an earlier event (at 8 p.m.) and people can come by before the rush at 10 p.m. comes in,” she says. “It’s a good event to come to after work or before H Street goes crazy” Lowenberg explains.

Loyal customers are “faithful to the venue and come by for the event because it’s fun.” But it’s those customers who are at the Rock & Roll Hotel for a show in the bar’s concert hall and stumble into the Spelling Buzz that really helps market the promotion.

“People will come by (to see) a concert for the evening and see what’s going on. We have people seated in rows like a normal spelling bee, and you have to walk by the event to see it,” she explains. “People come in for the concerts,” and are entranced by the Spelling Buzz. “It’s pretty unique. It’s fun to come by because we have these things going on … it creates a lot of buzz.”

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