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Spies Come Out at Night

Program Eyes Adult Crowd

If Washingtonians need to add some flavor to their weekend extravaganzas, they may want to take a look into going undercover.

D.C.’s International Spy Museum gives new meaning to the concept of a secret nightlife. On Feb. 6, the museum will open to an adult crowd for its “Spy at Night” experience. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, wannabe spies can slip into the museum for some social atmosphere, spy trivia and the museum’s popular Operation Spy adventure.

“[Since] Operation Spy opened in September of 2007, there has been an overwhelming response to it. We wanted to create Spy at Night, extending the hours that guests can take advantage of Operation Spy and the newly transformed Spy Cafe,” said Amanda Abrell, media relations manager for the museum.

The evening event also allows for a more exclusive Operation Spy with adults only. “It’s fine to [do Operation Spy] with a family from Cleveland, but with this you’re more likely to go with people who are from Washington,” said Amanda Ohlke, manager of adult education and the content creator for Spy at Night.

Operation Spy is an hourlong event that allows visitors an inside look into the life of a spy. The mission, set in the fictional nation of Khandar, has special effects and hands-on activities, such as cracking a safe, disabling security cameras and conducting a polygraph test.

Operation Spy is not the only way visitors can learn about the details of becoming a spy. On Friday nights, visitors will learn the tricks of the trade from professionals.

The museum did a few test runs of Spy at Night earlier in the month. On one Friday there was a handwriting analysis during which participants wrote a paragraph about themselves and then were taught how to analyze it. In the future there will be demonstrations on ninja techniques, polygraph readings and the art of disguise.

“We are planning to have a weekend with interrogation techniques, although it won’t be anything like Jack Bauer,” Ohlke joked, referring to the special agent on the TV show “24.”

Visitors also have the opportunity to meet former CIA agents and ask them questions. For example, former intelligence officer Melissa Mahle was at the first weekend of Spy at Night. Mahle worked in the Middle East from the Reagan years until 2002 and ran operations against al-Qaida terrorists, among many other assignments, Ohlke said.

After the museum opened for its first Spy at Night on the weekend of Jan. 9, Operation Spy and Spy at Night were closed because of a water pipe that burst over the cold inaugural weekend. Since there was no extensive damage, Operation Spy reopened last Friday and Spy at Night will relaunch Feb. 6.

“The folks who attended certainly enjoyed it enough,” Ohlke said. “It allows for a younger, hipper demographic. You get to meet new people [and] it’s not just like going to a bar. You get to test your skills. That is the exciting thing.”

Tickets for the evening can bought for $22 on the International Spy Museum Web site or at the door.

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