Put. The phone. Away. “But it’s so haaaaarrrrrd,” you say as you check to see if there’ve been any new Instagram posts since seven minutes ago. While we all know it’s important to disconnect now and then, many of us lack the discipline. To force the issue, consider spending time in a place where phones are forbidden, discouraged or rendered useless.
Bethesda Salt Cave
One way to be forced away from Facebook is to sit in a cave, pretending the world outside doesn’t exist. The Bethesda Salt Cave is a spa room lined wall to wall and floor to ceiling with imported Himalayan salt, which is said to offer a number of health benefits. You can book a 45-minute session to sit in the room and just chill, or you can sign up for energy cleaning, yoga or meditation workshops. You just need to abide by some rules: Arrive in advance for your session (if you’re more than five minutes late, you’re not allowed in), take off your shoes and leave your phone in the locker room. And please don’t lick the walls.
Bethesda Salt Cave, 4709 Montgomery Lane, Bethesda; $35 per session.
There are, amazingly, a lot of rules to obey when you take a tour of the Pentagon (like signing up at least two weeks in advance so they can do a background check on you). While phones are permitted, don’t plan on any selfies — pictures are absolutely forbidden at all points of the tour except for the replica press briefing room and the 9/11 memorial. The tour doesn’t take you anywhere off-limits, but you might spot a secure area nearby and be tempted to snap a picture. And if you try? The tour guides, who walk backward the whole time to keep an eye on you, are ready, says Pentagon spokeswoman Major Audricia Harris. All of them are members of the military and they are “well-informed and know how to enforce the policy,” Harris says.
The Pentagon, 1400 Defense Pentagon, Arlington; Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Fridays, noon-4 p.m., free.
Landmark E Street Cinema
It’s not that phones are banned here; it’s just they simply won’t work. The underground lair of independent films was apparently built under some sort of cell-service shield, as any “searching for signal” will come up empty (and no, they don’t have Wi-Fi). So while you can have your phone on you and you could play a little Angry Birds after the lights go down, we wouldn’t recommend it. E Street has a dedicated following, and serious filmgoers can give some serious glares.
Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW.
If you’ve ever texted your significant other while you were both in the same house — or room — the Mandarin Oriental hotel’s Device- Free Date Night might be calling you. The deal comes with a $100 credit at the spa, a $100 dining credit, champagne and strawberries on arrival, and they steal your phones. Well, with your permission. When guests arrive at the spa, “we ask them to have a seat and we do a tea ritual,” says Sonie Boyce, the director of the spa. “That’s when we ask if we can go ahead and take their devices. We have them place it on a nice tray,” at which point each phone is carried away, cleaned by staffers and placed in a custom pouch. At the end of the spa treatment, guests can either take their phone back (Boyce says about half elect to do so) or enjoy a device-free dinner. During the meal, staffers will put the phone, now nestled in its “sleeping bag,” as Boyce calls it, back in the guests’ room. It all aims to help people remember what eating was like before we were required to take a picture of our meal before digging in.
Mandarin Oriental, 1330 Maryland Ave. SW; $475 and up, depending on room.
The Modell Lyric (when Dave Chappelle stops by)
Most performers don’t mind if you hold up your phone through an entire concert and record
something you’ll never look at it again because it was shot while you held up your phone. Dave Chappelle is not most artists. For his current tour, which brings him to Baltimore next week, the comedian has instituted a no-phone policy — but that doesn’t mean you have to leave yours at the door. Each attendee’s phone is secured inside a little bag, made by Yondr, which is locked and given to the owner (who can have it unlocked if he or she needs to step out and use it). It’s the same system that Jack White and Cage the Elephant used when they came to D.C., says Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director for I.M.P., which promotes shows in a number of area clubs, including The Anthem. Don’t worry about an end-of-show crush: “I was happily surprised when I went to Cage the Elephant,” she says. “On the way out, it was lickety- split.”
The Modell Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore; June 8 & 9, 7 p.m., $66-$86.