DC Let Bars Stay Open 24 Hours for the Women’s World Cup — So We Pulled an All-Nighter

You can watch soccer at 4:30 in the morning surrounded by strangers, but should you?

August 4, 2023 6:09 am
three screens TV in purple-ish lighting at bar
We ventured to one of the DC bars staying open for the Women's World Cup.
Brandon Charles

Washington D.C. bars are allowed to stay open during all FIFA Women’s World Cup games, thanks to the Women’s World Cup Emergency Amendment Act of 2023. Unanimously passed by the DC Council, Washington soccer fans are some of the luckiest in the country — if you think hanging out in a bar between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. is a good thing. 

The group stage of the competition concluded yesterday. On Tuesday, the United States barely advanced, following a 0-0 draw against Portugal. (Things aren’t looking great for the two-time defending champs.) With four games left on Tuesday night — two beginning at 3 a.m. EST and two at 6 a.m. — I decided to attempt to make the most of the Emergency Amendment Act, and to find a backup team to root for, very early Wednesday morning. 

3 a.m.

Today’s 3 a.m. matches are South Africa vs. Italy and Argentina vs. Sweden. I guess I’m rooting for whoever scores first? Should I root for no one, since one of these teams plays the U.S. next?

3:17 a.m.

Italy is up. I’m officially rooting for Italy.

Is Italy now “my” team? I’m Italian, I’ve been to Italy — it’s OK to root for the boot, right? Do I need to wait until the U.S. is eliminated before openly rooting for another country? 

3:28 a.m.

Ninety bars applied for the license allowing them to stay open for all Women’s World Cup games within city limits. A few used it Monday night/Tuesday morning, for the final U.S. game in the group stage. Based on reports, it seems like most of the bars did good business and then closed soon after, foregoing the later games. Toro Bar is the only one making use of the special license tonight. Anyone who’s interested in watching soccer at a bar in DC, legally, has to come here.

The place is currently about 25 percent full, while every other bar in the city is closed. Most of the patrons are playing pool, doing shots and drinking Miller Lite. It’s like any other bar, except it’s open and everywhere else is closed. There are a handful of us watching both matches on mute, while Grupo Firme & Lenin Ramirez and Drake are played at 9 p.m. volume (not midnight-in-a-club loud, but louder than anything you’d expect at 3 a.m.). Prices are crazy cheap, especially for a late-night spot (I don’t think I’ve ever been at a late-night bar with $3 Narragansett and $4 Tecate.) And the staff is way chiller than you’d expect at this hour. 

3:43 a.m.

Bars have to stop serving alcohol at 4 a.m. This place is going to clear out.

3:49 a.m.

Last call.

3:53 a.m.

Both games are at the half. South Africa vs. Italy is 1-1. Argentina vs. Sweden is 0-0. I’m now rooting for at least one not-tie.

3:58 a.m.

Two-minute warning. The bartenders and bouncer do not want to lose this liquor license. They’re doing a really good job making sure no one has any liquor in their cups by 4.

4:12 a.m.

It is nice to watch two games that mean something to every team on each screen. It means a bit less to Sweden — they’re advancing regardless — but it’s very exciting for the other three squads.

4:18 a.m.

It’s 48 degrees Fahrenheit in Hamilton, New Zealand, where the Argentina vs. Sweden game is being played. That’s too cold.

4:26 a.m.

This is the second time Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” has played this hour. This hour. Fuck Internet jukeboxes.

4:27 a.m.


4:30 a.m.

South Africa!

Both goals were scored during the second round of “Bad and Boujee”!

4:36 a.m.


4:38 a.m.

There’s no way I could have stayed quiet enough to not wake up my family if I was watching these games at home. The last 15 minutes have elicited three screams from me and a bunch of guys who were only here to play pool but got sucked into the game. The beautiful game.

4:42 a.m.

Well, I was wrong. No one left.

4:45 a.m.

I’m an idiot. Draws in soccer are great. What’s wrong with me?

4:54 a.m.

South Africa! This game is wild!

Drake is on for the third time.

5:09 a.m.

What a game! What a finish!

Now what? I’m not looking to lose any money to pool sharks, and the next match isn’t for nearly an hour. Time to chat with the staff.

5:20  a.m.

The place cleared out after the 3 a.m. matches. The bartender told me it’s pretty typical: People will leave for the 30 or 45 minutes between games and come back at 6 a.m. She says the 4 a.m. liquor cutoff is actually a good idea, and it’s hard to disagree. Anyone who’s worked in a bar has dealt with over-served individuals, and even a two-hour break (bars can start serving again at 6 a.m.) mellows the place out.

5:45 a.m.

Hey, look, the moon is still out! When is sunrise? 

5:50 a.m.

The doorman told me this morning has been the slowest it’s been for the entire Women’s World Cup. The U.S. games have been busy, but nothing, he says, compared to the Men’s World Cup last year. He said the place was packed for every game, regardless of who was playing. He chalked it up to pandemic fatigue.

5:55  a.m.

I’m the only patron here, and I’m glad the bartender dealt me into a game of Uno. Not to brag, but I won the first game. I also learned Mattel makes water-resistant Uno cards. 

6:00 a.m.

Here we go! Final games: Panama vs. France. Brazil vs. Jamaica. Private bar! 

I asked the bartender if they’d close up the place if I left. They told me no.

6:01 a.m.

Panama! That was fast!

6:07 a.m.

Man, French coach Hervé Renard is a sharp dresser.

6:08 a.m.

I hate seeing the sun rise while in a bar. I hate it.

6:19 a.m.

Channel 9 was here last night doing a live hit. The regulars were psyched to be on TV.

6:20 a.m.


6:28 a.m.

The Washington Spirit’s Riley Tanner is playing for Panama, so I’m rooting for them even though they’re already down 2-1 and will not be playing another game in this World Cup.

6:30 a.m.

A Jamaican fan has joined us at the bar. Brazil is the heavy favorite. It’s not going well for our teams. Panama is now my team.

6:35 a.m.

“6 a.m. cocaine energy!” —our new bar friend

6:48 a.m.

Coke-energy guy thinks we’re watching a Panama vs. France replay. He asked Siri who is playing today. He’s gobsmacked France is playing right now.

6:57 a.m.

How was this a positive experience at 4:57 a.m. but feels horrible at 6:57 a.m.?

7 a.m.

Not going to lie, I am not a fan of 6 a.m. cocaine energy.

7:05 a.m.

Once Primus fans find out Atlanta Primus plays for Jamaica, I think a lot of Primus fans will be buying Primus Jamaica jerseys.

7:16 a.m.

Damn. A soccer fan who just entered is wearing an aggressively misogynistic shirt sold by a company that leans alt-right. How are you into women’s soccer yet hate women? Gambling. I forgot about gambling.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t think these open-at-6 a.m. soccer bars are attracting the best and the brightest.

7:55 a.m.

Jamaica! What a draw! Now that Brazil and Canada are out, the U.S.’s performance in the group stage doesn’t look so bad!

8:08 a.m.

The last time I spent six hours in one bar was…a bad idea. This six-hour experience was…OK?

11:50 a.m. 

I watched those games today? It’s still today? It’s still morning? 

TL;DR: Soccer is great, it’s fun to have fun, but too much fun gets uncomfortable and weird. There’s a good reason bars aren’t open 24 hours. Avoid the rising sun. Everyone who works at Toro Bar is a good sport, and I will be back at normal hours. Go, USA!

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