Posts

Photo: Trent Johnson

DC’s Director of Nightlife and Culture Reflects on First Year

To embark on any new endeavor – creative, personal or professional – can be a daunting hill to climb for anyone, and DC government is no exception. Even with the support of Mayor Muriel Bowser and others, Shawn Townsend, who became the first-ever director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture (MONC) early this year, has a lot on his plate.

His energy and excitement to be first in this role is apparent as is his mission: to make nightlife accessible to everyone. In addition to helping shape the position for the first time in the District’s history, Townsend’s tenure has been greeted with skepticism of which he’s well-aware.

After a four-year stint at DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (also known as ABRA), he knew he could offer a unique perspective and wealth of experience to the city, but worried constituents would see him as another enforcer of the law. However, some of the public’s concerns were born from a simple misunderstanding of Townsend’s role.

“Critics will say, ‘He comes from enforcement, so he’s going to be looking to write folks up and get people in trouble,’” he says. “But we don’t have any regulatory authority or enforcement authority. We’re simply here to connect the dots between stakeholders, businesses, residents and agencies. All of that helps make nightlife better.”

Townsend’s role involves more listening and creative conflict resolution than anything else. He says his team hit the ground running on a wide array of issues since Mayor Bowser appointed him to the new position in November 2018, and they’ve resolved 98 percent of the 63 issues under their purview.

He notes that one of his proudest moments so far involved helping a local music venue apply for a grant to receive funds for better noise abatement technology after receiving constant complaints. With a MONC letter of support and a grant application through the DC Department of Small & Local Business Development, the venue was able to make the necessary improvements to mitigate the noise and continue business. According to Townsend, it’s evidence that slowly but surely, he and his team are seeing the fruits of their labor.

“The idea is to have someone on the government side serve as a liaison to the nightlife economy – to really put an emphasis on changing the dialogue from the city government thinking about life in the daytime to thinking about [and] allocating more resources to our life at night, because the cities have generated so much revenue from [it]. It’s a catalyst for revenue and a catalyst for jobs, [and] for social inclusion [and] cultural diversity.”

While this misunderstood territory is uncharted for DC, it’s not for other cities. They look to, and follow, the best practices of other locations with similar roles. Still, the District’s unique music history – Black Broadway, renowned venues, and iconic genres like go-go and hardcore, to name a few standouts – makes it a different beast to tackle altogether from a bureaucratic standpoint.

With the added elements of nightlife safety and respecting the city’s creative legacies, Townsend must take into account the many intersections that exist within what happens on DC streets when the sun goes down.

“When it comes to the culture piece, we’ve sat down with festival organizers,” he continues. “We’ve discussed the #Don’tMuteDC movement with artists and creatives. We have some artists and folks in the performing arts and creative industries on our nightlife and culture commission. So [we are] really having those conversations to figure out what the agenda is of the creatives, and how we can help push that agenda forward to other agencies and to the Mayor and say, ‘This is what we’re hearing on the ground.’”

And while Townsend is quick to say he’s a fan of all nightlife in DC, he’s certainly taken office during a time both challenging and exciting to be at the helm of such a project. When asked about any standout moments that reflect how DC nightlife is changing, he mentions the poignancy of watching the Washington Mystics take home the WNBA championship trophy last month.

“[At the] Entertainment and Sports Arena, standing there and seeing the clock wind down to a sold-out crowd and [the Mystics] bringing a championship trophy to Southeast was an experience for me,” he recalls. “I’ve been in the region since the early 90s, and I remember what that area used to be.”

He says it touched him to see Monumental Sports and the Leonsis Family collaborate with local government and Events DC to help boost the economy in that quadrant of the nation’s capital.

“It’s an example of us investing in parts of the city that don’t necessarily have nightlife amenities, including sports. I look forward to the expansion of the St. Elizabeths campus to have more nightlife.”

The office has made great strides, and Townsend and his team hope to continue bridging creative and commercial gaps for years to come.

For more on MONC, visit www.moca.dc.gov and follow the office on social media @DCMONC.

Anchuli Felicia King // Photo: Benita de Wit

Anchuli Felicia King’s White Pearl Explores Intra-Asian Racism

2019 has been a big year for playwright Anchuli Felicia King. The 25-year-old Thai-Australian will make her professional playwrighting debut not once, not twice, but three times this year with White Pearl. The corporate satire about the beauty industry is premiering in England and Australia before making its American debut at Studio Theatre this November.

To launch a professional career nearly simultaneously on three continents would be unusual for most playwrights, but for King, who grew up between Thailand, the Philippines and Australia and now divides her time between New York, London and Sydney, globalism is the name of the game.

“I’m basically a global citizen,” King told me last week.

We chatted by Skype as King rode a train to the Sydney Theatre Company, where the Australian production of her new play was in rehearsals.

White Pearl, which launched King’s international career, is set in the cultural melting pot of Singapore and features six characters of different Asian backgrounds who work for the fictional beauty startup Clearday. When someone leaks an ad for their skin-whitening cream, the Internet pounces, pronouncing the ad racist and prompting finger pointing among the six very different – but all Asian – women who lead the company. Someone’s getting fired, but who?

King started writing the play in 2016 while she was pursuing an MFA in dramaturgy at Columbia University.

“Ads started coming up on my newsfeed for skin-whitening products that were deemed to be racially insensitive,” she said. “Products like this were ubiquitous when I was growing up in Thailand and the Philippines, so it was fascinating to me that suddenly they were being held accountable to a global discourse around race.”

King asked her friends in Columbia’s Women of Color Collective about their experiences with whitening cream and discovered that the topic hit a nerve with women from all different backgrounds.

“It doesn’t matter what country you come from. You are being sold an idea of what beauty looks like that is so entrenched in your cultural ideology.”

In crafting a dark comedy about the beauty industry, King found the perfect backdrop in corporations – particularly millennial startup culture and the disconnect between the glossy, utopian ideals and the reality of the practices and what they are selling.

“There is this disjunct between surface and substance,” she said of startup companies. “Cosmetics companies specifically prey on and monetize women’s shame and insecurity.”

White Pearl brings the issue to life through six characters: all of them Asian women, but each from very distinct backgrounds and cultures. The Clearday CEO is a British Indian woman, while the other characters have roots in Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand and Singapore.

“My goal with that was to poke holes at the idea that Asia is a monoculture and to explore the specificity of different places in Asia,” King said. “But the play also explores the ongoing cultural traumas and legacies that lead to tension between different Asian cultures and the racism that still happens in Asia.”

In choosing a director for this production, Studio tapped Desdemona Chiang. Born in Taiwan and raised in L.A., Chiang known for taking on projects that illuminate marginalized populations and challenge perceptions of the status quo.

“When I first read the script, it hit me really hard – especially when it discussed the racism of East Asian people,” Chiang told me in a recent conversation. “That hit a very raw spot for me because it was something I recognize sometimes within myself and sometimes in where I come from. I found that really discomforting so I said, ‘Great, that means I have to do this play.’”

I asked Chiang how she thought White Pearl would be perceived by American audiences – Asian and non-Asian – who are geographically and often psychologically further away from Singapore than a London or Sydney audience.

“What’s interesting about this story is that it deals with the same issues we have in America but through a different lens,” she explained. “We talk about racism, classism, beauty standards and implicit bias here, but usually through a black/white lens. To tackle the same issues through a different perspective is interesting.”

King agrees: “It’s fascinating to see how this play resonates differently with different audiences and specifically, different Asian communities in different countries.”

King hopes that the exploration of intra-Asian racism will be eye-opening for non-Asian audiences in America.

“There are also things in the play that are so true of the time we are living in and so universal that will resonate with any audience. At its heart, it’s an old-school black comedy and a satire so I hope the audience laughs a lot and through that, interrogates why they are laughing.”

White Pearl runs from November 6 to December 8 at Studio Theatre’s Milton Theatre. Tickets start at $20. Learn more at www.studiotheatre.org.

Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC; 202-332-3300; www.studiotheatre.org

Photo: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life with Simone Eccleston, the Kennedy Center’s Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music

When you think of hip-hop venues in DC, it’s probably fair to say that the Kennedy Center isn’t the first that comes to mind – but perhaps this sentiment is beginning to shift. In recent years, the nationally renowned institution has made exceptionally large steps toward taking hip-hop more seriously as a conduit for culture, including several festivals and concerts featuring performances by legendary stalwart Nas and Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar. In 2016, A Tribe Called Quest co-founder Q-Tip became the Kennedy Center’s first artistic director for hip hop culture, and less than a year later, the center announced the appointment of Simone Eccleston as its first-ever director of hip hop culture and contemporary music.

Since then, Eccleston has worked with Q-Tip and other members of the center’s hip hop culture council, which includes an impressive amount of star power and influence such as Questlove, LL Cool J, Big Boi, Common, MC Lyte and a score of others. Though Eccleston’s name may not evoke the same kind of awe from hip-hop heads as Q-Tip or Common, this doesn’t diminish her impact. Since taking on the mantle of director in this brand-new initiative, there’s undoubtedly been an uptick in programming investigating the cultural impacts of hip-hop, from workshops to film screenings and other intersectional events in-between. To learn more about her inaugural position at the helm of hip-hop culture, we spoke to Eccleston about her affinity for hip-hop, her ongoing mission and what she’s learned in the role.

On Tap: What are your earliest memories of hip-hop?
Simone Eccleston: The first song that I remember knowing word for word was LL cool J’s “Around The Way Girl.” I was age 10 at that point. There was something about the energy of the song and the video. It was fun and had an unapologetic New York vibe. I loved the way that it celebrated independent women and reminded me of women in my neighborhood. At 12, I heard Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s T.R.O.Y. and my whole world changed. It was so honest, vulnerable and familiar. I connected with it immediately. It’s still one of my favorite songs.

OT: Are there other artists who stuck out to you in your formative years?
SE: The artists that really helped me fall in love with hip-hop and see myself reflected early on were MC Lyte and Queen Latifah. They were both strong women with powerful lyrics. Their self-possession was inspiring. I remember seeing them and aspiring to be a woman of strength.


Five Things Simone Can’t Live Without
Prayer
Family
Purpose
Live music
A great DJ


OT: If you could’ve told that 10-year-old girl in the Bronx listening to LL Cool J, Queen Latifah and MC Lyte that in the future you’d be on the phone with these people, what would she have said?
SE: My 10-year-old self would bust out with The Running Man [Laughs]. I will say this: not necessarily when I was 10, but when I was 16 [to] 25 through now, there was a part of me that always knew I would be working in service of the culture. I knew my life’s work and purpose would be tied to celebrating the genius of people of color.

OT: Did you ever think you’d be in a role like this, focusing on the culture of hip-hop?
SE: I remember when [the Kennedy Center] announced their commitment to hip-hop culture as a program in 2016, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I want to be there.”  Who would have thought I would be the inaugural director, working with Q-Tip and our incredible council? They’re an incredible community that is so committed to being of service to the culture. They reflect the very best of who we are.

OT: Is it ever surreal for you to be working with some of the people you credit with your love of the genre?
SE: Yes, it can be surreal. But more than surreal, it’s incredibly humbling and gratifying. Being able to partner and collaborate with them to do this work is a gift and a blessing, and I don’t take it for granted. To be able to partner with someone like Q-Tip, who has deeply inspired my love of hip-hop and [A] Tribe [Called Quest] as a group – he’s such a visionary. He’s someone who’s so committed to ensuring that it’s never about him. It’s about the culture. You’ll never really see him trying to insert himself in particular ways. Instead, he’s like, “Use me so that way we can create space for others.”

OT: Why has hip-hop resonated with you in such a profound way, to the point that you’d dedicate at least this part of your career to it?
SE: There isn’t a place where hip-hop isn’t. Part of [the Kennedy Center’s] charge as an institution is not only to celebrate the tenets of the culture, but its intersections. You think about how hip-hop has informed fashion and film – it’s in practically all media content. Our role as an institution is to be able to create a space for all of that to be seen. Even if you think you don’t have a connection, you’re connected. Hip-hop not only shapes culture, it creates culture.


Five Work Must-Haves
Our incredible Hip Hop Council
A White board + time to ideate
My pod
A great soundtrack
Music + culture podcasts


OT: Why do you think it was so important for the Kennedy Center to make such a large commitment to hip-hop?
SE: When you think about America’s art forms and when you think about hip-hop as a culture – not just about the music – I think that adds nuance, complexity and dynamism. It’s one mode of our ability to tell our stories and make ourselves visible. I think it was a platform for us to resist, even if the resistance was just us saying, “Hey, I’m here.” Historically, when you think about how we’ve been marginalized and the dismantling of our communities, hip-hop was a form of resistance. It was an opportunity to declare our presence amidst a society that was trying to erase us.

OT: That being said, how have you approached the integration of hip-hop into the Kennedy Center’s programming?
SE: Part of the impetus for us here is a celebration of hip-hop culture. For us, it’s about celebrating the genius of the culture and the genius of the communities that created it. This is about a centering of community and in ensuring that in this space, known as the nation’s performing arts center, we are truly reflective of the nation. You think about jazz being one of our greatest ambassadors, but hip-hop is equal if not greater when you think about the way it provides space on a national, [even] global level. You can see it when you go to different communities across the globe. People are using it as an opportunity to provide voice and visibility for themselves, but also to resist.

OT: How have things grown at the Kennedy Center over the past two years?
SE: At every show, there’s always a handful of people that come up and say, “Thank you.” [They’re] people who had never come to the Kennedy Center that now do. The institutional commitment to hip-hop culture as an anchor program came in 2016, but that wasn’t without years of groundwork being laid. What I’m seeing is clearly a growth in programming, but [also] a presence across the institution. You’ll have intersections with our special events. You’ll have intersections with our education department. You’ll see all of these different ways in which hip-hop is continuing to undergird, imprint and transform the work of the institution.

OT: What are some things you’ve learned that you didn’t expect?
SE: Just the lesson that transformation takes time. None of us will truly know the real results of our work until 10 or 20 years after it’s done. It’s about being patient and understanding the work isn’t about us. It’s about the people we’re trying to serve and the change we’re trying to make. We’re here and we have an ambitious goal of being a 21st-century performing arts organization. It’s teaching us the ways we need to evolve our work and our processes in accordance with that. It’s a formidable challenge, but I think we’re up to the task.

For more about the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music programming, visit www.kenney-center.org/calendar/series/HHC.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org

Photos: Antwon Maxwell

Creative Coworking At The Suites by Galaxy 5000

Entrepreneur Adilisha Patrom has found creative ways to solve her needs and those of the people around her throughout her career. As an interior design student, Patrom was led “on a journey to dive more into the hair extension industry” after her own experience with a scalp infection from her extensions. Fast-forward to today and you’ll find Patrom at the helm of Galaxy 5000, her own company created to fill a void in ethical, healthy hair extensions.

Though her business with Galaxy 5000 continues to bud, she found another need not being met: an affordable, accessible space for creatives and entrepreneurs representing all sorts of businesses to hone in on their vision and be their best. Ever the problem solver, Patrom is now the founder and CEO of The Suites by Galaxy 5000, a new coworking space on Florida Avenue that’s not your average row of offices.

“I started to realize that there were a lot of things that we were lacking,” she says. “In this day and age of social media, I just knew from working on shoots and with graphic designers, there are different elements that you need to put together a whole business. For a lot of startups, you don’t have the resources to be able to bring together that team to execute your vision.”

That’s where Patrom and her team at The Suites come in. While she wanted to use the space for her own business, she quickly came to the realization that if she was coming up on specific roadblocks, other creators must be too. At their Northeast location, you’ll find unique meeting rooms and coworking nooks in the same space as beauty suites, a recording studio, and rooms equipped for photo and video shoots.

Patrom says The Suites, which opened in September, can host events, pop-up shops and more. She used her interior design background to curate a space that’s professional and inspiring but still adaptable to the needs of all those who come to the space to get work done.

“If a brand wants to come in and do a beauty experience, they can use the full space. There can be different activations for their experience. It allows for people to be able to create an experience. We tried to design it in a way that it can fit different brands and aesthetics, but it can also be personalized. This space is so flexible. It really can be adjusted to be used for anything.”

At the heart of Patrom’s coworking space is her desire for DC creatives to also have a place to connect with one another. As the city’s multifaceted communities produce more and more content through every medium, she knows competition will naturally come with it. While that inevitable spirit always shines through, especially in a fast-paced city, she still believes collaboration and community will take professionals even further with a place like The Suites to connect them.

“I know that as creatives, sometimes we get stuck in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. It makes it hard for us to go outside the box, especially when developing relationships within communities. What I’m hoping is that it can create an environment for more collaboration rather than competition. It’s also DC, so everybody’s very driven and ready to get to the next level. I just want people to realize we can all get to the next level with the use of the resources around us because they can go so much further.”

The Suites at Galaxy 5000: 1002 Florida Ave. NE, DC; www.thesuitesdc.com

Marlee Milton, Kelcie Glass and Nicole Garder // Photo: Trent Johnson

GIRLAAA Collective Provides Safe Space and Creative Platform for Black Women

The subtle nuances of pronunciation never cease to amaze me. I’m sitting across from Kelcie Glass, Nicole Garder and Marlee Milton as they take turns saying the colloquialism that inspired their collective’s name. “Girlaaa” is a common greeting in the District, one generally used to express excitement. But Glass quickly points out that it can also have a “Girl, chill” vibe with just the slightest variance in tone. 

And just like its name, GIRLAAA’s ethos follows suit. While chatting with one-third of the nine-piece group’s powerhouse of talented women at Eaton Hotel’s flagship restaurant American Son, it becomes quickly apparent to me that every action the collective takes is meant to champion women of color and their accomplishments – but also challenge them by digging into substantive content and getting real. 

Over the past year, GIRLAAA has expanded from throwing women-centric parties around the city to hosting 15 killer events including three activations at the Hirshhorn, creating a biweekly podcast recorded at Eaton and coworking space 202Creates, and growing their tightknit crew to include visual artists, DJs, producers, hosts, programmers and more. Each one-hour episode of the “1-800-GIRLAAA” podcast includes interviews with local luminaries and a DJ set highlighting edgy sounds from strong women. 

Glass, a marketing and outreach guru, Garder, an ethically sourced jewelry consultant and documentary filmmaker, and Milton, a full-time musician with an artist development side hustle, walked me through what the collective means to them, why supporting the area they grew up in is critical, and why smoking a joint with Rihanna would be lit.

On Tap: What was the evolution from events to the “1-800-GIRLAAA” podcast?
Nicole Garder: Dominique [Wells] was the creator of GIRLAAA, and she reached out to women in different creative spaces to come together. We started out as a party and then from that, we saw an even bigger need to give a platform to all women in creative spaces.
Kelcie Glass: Then the podcast was born from that. We were doing GIRLAAA activations. Eaton reached out to us before we even thought about doing a podcast and said, “Hey, we want GIRLAAA to do a podcast here.” Nicole had a lot of production [and] programming experience. I do too, and I can also host. Marlee can DJ and also host really well. We record in multiple spaces now, but it was born from being asked just based on the premise of the collective.

OT: What was your original goal in hosting the parties? Who did you want to bring together?
KG: It started as having a safe space for women, and we also wanted to highlight women of color who don’t always get a platform to show their talents. The party was cool but now we can do different interviews [and] live events with the podcast, [and have] real substantive conversations. Our most recent party was on the rooftop of Eaton for Women’s History Month, and that was crazy. 

OT: What percentage of your focus now is on the podcast versus hosting events?
NG: I would say we want to focus on both, with the emphasis on the podcast and doing live events. It’s really about engaging people online but also doing that in real life. 

OT: How do you pick the music for each episode?
Marlee Milton: Really, I just go with the vibe. I know our regular sets and parties are really centered around women in music and just that strong sound – like how Insecure has those really edgy, catchy, striking songs from women – that’s something I really try to hone in on. Just a good vibe, a good time. 

OT: What’s the creative process for picking your guests?
NG: It’s really figuring out what’s happening in our local community and then branching out toward the entertainment topics [affecting] women of color. That’s our target audience. We have different segments focusing on who is really inspiring us – women in power. It’s very important to use our platform to share with other people, and that’s also how we go about finding talent to [have] those deeper conversations.
KG: We hadn’t even started yet and [journalist and former Wizards cohost] Gia Peppers was like, “Yeah, I want to come on and do it.” We had Janea West [on the show]. She has this [DC-based] web series called Grown, which is really, really great. Nicole and I just went to Essence Fest where we popped up on Lena Waithe and AlunaGeorge. We’ll go where needed, especially if we have really great content. These women are huge right now. The concept is a good enough pitch for people to really engage with us.

OT: Any guests you’re dying to have on?
NG: People with big, expansive personalities and bringing those people to our local community, which is so important for me.
KG: I would say Tracee Ellis Ross [and] NAO. Obviously, Rihanna. I just want to smoke some weed with Rihanna and talk shit.
NG: Same. [laughs]
KG: I think she’d be down with the concept, too. That would be lit.
MM: I really want to speak to a lot of the independent women in the industry and a lot of the black pop and black punk artists [who are] women. I really want to get their perspective and process and experience.

OT: What about a local guest, maybe someone under the radar?
NG: I would love to have a conversation with April George of April + VISTA. I love the texture of her voice, but also she’s really focused on the issues that are happening in the DC space in terms of supporting creatives and what that really looks like.
KG: I’m leaning a little more political. I know some young women of color who are running for local office, but also national figures who are located here. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez follows us on Instagram because she saw our installation that included pieces of her by [visual artist, illustrator, animator and GIRLAAA member] Trap Bob. I would love to sit down with her and have a conversation. Also, I would like to bring the Mayor [on for a] women-centric conversation, but also just [to ask her] about what she thinks about the culture of DC right now and its trajectory and what we can do to build legislation around maintaining it. 


GIRLAAA MUST-HAVES
Great energy
Creative women in our circle
Tenacity
Bold personalities
Dedication to feminism
Love + appreciation for the native DMV culture


OT: What about event wish lists? What’s a space you think could really be a good platform or bring in the right people to highlight your mission?
KG: A lot of the spaces that we’ve been coming into have been to bring in this energy. They realize that they are lacking or have a void in terms of black women or creatives in their spaces. We are in talks with some major theaters right now. It’d be fun to do a podcast and then a party afterwards [at 9:30 Club].
NG: In the film sphere of things, definitely a screening, having those conversations with the directors.
NG: I would also love to do a women’s conference, specifically.
KG: A conference would be great. A women-centric one would be really cool – and regularly, annually. I would also want to venture into more of the political space. We’re potentially supporting a cannabis-centric event coming up in September that is about recreational cannabis, but also the business of that and how black and brown people get into those conversations. 

OT: What goals do you have for GIRLAAA – both the podcast and the scope of events – in the next year? Do you view it as more of a creative outlet or a transition to where you want to be full-time?
KG: We definitely want to travel more and connect with people in different cities. [And] more robust programming with larger artists. I think that’s feasible, it’s just the time and energy. [If we were] full-time, we could actually do more robust things and have these big artists come and do a whole weekend of events and things like that.
MM: I definitely see us being the go-to group for bringing our perspective and audience to events and programming in general. I really want to see a GIRLAAA festival. To me, all of us have come together for this mission and it’s full-time already even though we’re juggling so many things.
NG: That’s what I love most about the collective: if one person is there, we’re all there. 

OT: How did you come up with the name? What does it mean to each of you?
KG: Girlaaa is a slang in DC. Let Marlee say it.
MM: Girlaaa. It’s like, a greeting in a way.
KG: It can be a greeting. It’s basically like, “Girl, chill,” or “Girl, yes.” Either way, it depends on the context.
NG: It’s all about the tone.
KG: It depends on the context and the tone.

OT: What context and tone do you prefer?
MM: Excited, sisterly, hyping you up…
KG: I like the more questionable one. [All laugh] The GIRLAAA collective is definitely the hype energy one.

OT: What are some of your favorite things to do in DC when you’re not working or podcasting?
MM: Dance. I love to dance [at] U Street Music Hall, Eighteenth Street Lounge, Velvet Lounge, Cloak & Dagger, Sotto – so many places.
KG: I like to go to concerts [at] 9:30, Anthem, U Hall. I love concerts and music – very music-centric.
NG: I would say definitely concerts but also being one with nature. I spend a lot of time in Georgetown, so kayaking and paddleboarding.  

Listen to the “1-800-GIRLAAA” podcast at www.mixcloud.com/GIRLAAA. Learn more about GIRLAAA at www.domo.world/girlaaa and follow the collective on Instagram @girlaaa.world.

Photo: courtesy of Casa Ruby

Some Place To Lay Your Head: DC’s A Beacon of Hope For The Transgender Community

It all starts with family.

Because without support at home, transgender people can find themselves spiraling, according to Earline Budd, a transgender woman of color who has been an activist in the DC transgender community since the 1990s.

“One of the most outstanding issues we [trans people] face is estrangement from family,” she says. “Then housing becomes an issue because you’re homeless and you have to survive, which was my case at age 13.”

Budd says because she faced homelessness at such a young age, she found herself in and out of the criminal justice system and doing sex work just to survive.

“The struggle when I got out [of jail] was still not having any housing and having to grow up on the street,” she says. “In my case, I contracted HIV.”

The 60-year-old activist says she’s heard stories like hers from younger transgender people throughout her work with various LGBTQ+ support organizations. Not having a support system, especially at a young age, is the catalyst for many of the other adversities transgender people face throughout their lives.

Because once she was put out on the street, Budd had limited options as a trans woman of color, especially back in the 1970s. But things are different now, according to Budd there are more places transgender people can turn to when they’re in need. DC’s own Casa Ruby is one such place.

Casa Ruby is the “only LGBTQ+ bilingual and multicultural organization in the metropolitan Washington, DC area” that provides an array of services including housing, health and social programs to help LGBTQ+ individuals hurdle any barriers they may be facing at the time, according to its website.

Thirty years ago, Ruby Corado, a transgender Latina immigrant, arrived in DC and realized there were no services available to support her needs. This led to the eventual formation of Casa Ruby, Inc. followed by the opening of the first Casa Ruby Center in June 2012.

“Today, Casa Ruby employs almost 50 people [and] provides more than 30,000 social and human services to more than 6,000 people each year,” according to the organization’s website.

Holly Goldmann, director of external affairs at Casa Ruby, agrees with Budd in that many of the plights transgender people experience “start at home,” especially for transgender women of color. But that’s where Casa Ruby comes in.

“We’re there to provide the most vulnerable population in the city with life skills to save their lives, make sure they’re not dismissed and give them a family,” Goldmann says. “We want to make sure they’re always welcome – not just at Casa Ruby, but in the world.”

Goldmann says Corado plans to establish a second wellness center under the Casa Ruby name in Southeast DC, with the tentative opening date scheduled for some time in June. Budd reveals she was ecstatic for this news and commends Corado for all of her service to the transgender community over the years.

“Ruby has been absolutely phenomenal when it comes to stepping up to the plate,” Budd says. “She’s seen as a kind ear and someone who has been very important in our community.”

Along with Casa Ruby and other organizations focused on trans rights in the District, Budd says DC in particular serves as a beacon of hope for transgender people because of its policies addressing gender identity.

“DC is probably one of the most liberal places where you can come and be your authentic self,” she says. “It’s a leader because of all the things that have been put in place for transgenders.”

In 2014, then DC Mayor Vincent Gray announced that public and private health insurance plans regulated by the DC government were required to cover transition-related care. But transgender rights in the DC justice system were acknowledged long before Gray made his declaration.

Since 2009, the District has permitted transgender inmates to be placed according to their gender identity, and to begin hormone therapy while in custody. Peter Nickles, who served as DC’s attorney general in 2009, wrote in a statement that “these provisions, along with other aspects of policy, will help to ensure that the rights of transgender prisoners are respected and that their unique needs are accommodated, to the extent practicable, while they are incarcerated.”

Budd says this policy, along with gender transition health insurance coverage, makes DC a place where transgender people feel more heard and accepted.

“We’re probably one of the first places in the country where the Department of Corrections developed a policy for trans inmates,” she says. “That’s unheard of in a lot of other places.”

Charlotte Clymer, a transgender woman activist for the Human Rights Campaign, says while she feels lucky to live in DC because of how the city’s police department has improved its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, there are still shortcomings.

“There is a lack of understanding about LGBTQ+ people and the obstacles we face, so when police interact with us, they are not always passionate or sympathetic,” Clymer says.

While there is still work to be done, there is also a strong movement within the city to address these misunderstandings. The Capital Pride Alliance is one of several DC organizations dedicated to enlightening people about the barriers faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

At the annual Capital Trans Pride celebration on May 18 and 19, Capital Pride Alliance Board Member Ian Brown says the nonprofit held workshops on issues faced by the trans community in order to make them more visible.

“When you’re able to put a face with an issue, it becomes human,” he says. “You can no longer ignore it. That’s something I think is missing in the larger context of policy and national change. Our visibility is very important.”

The Capital Pride Alliance is holding its annual Capital Pride Celebration from May 31 to June 9 at locations all over the District. This year, the theme is “shhhOUT” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations in New York City which served as a catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement.

Brown says while this year’s theme largely has to do with acknowledging this important moment in the history of LGBTQ+ rights, it also makes a statement.

“We wanted to acknowledge the forces that continue to try to silence our community,” he continues.  “In being about to shout, we’re definitely giving a shout-out to our past and how we’re here now proudly speaking out in the present day.”

Budd, who will serve as a grand marshal at the Capital Pride Celebration, says she is honored for the chance to tell her story through this appointment and hopes she can inspire more transgender people to follow in her footsteps as an activist.

“I do it because I’ve been there and I believe someone has to be a mentor and be there for those who are coming through now,” she says. “But it’s not easy [to be an activist] when you don’t have some place to lay your head.”

Celebrate Capital Pride from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 9 around the District. Learn more at www.capitalpride.org.

Capital Pride Alliance: 2000 14th St. NW, DC; www.capitalpride.org
Casa Ruby: 7530 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.casaruby.org

Photo: courtesy of Eaton

DC’s New Wave of Hotels: Socially Aware Cultural Hubs on the Rise

The way we experience commerce is changing.

In the Internet age, shoppers who make the effort to visit bricks-and-mortar expect more than an experience. They want to activate good – whether through self-improvement, support for local artists or improving the workforce.

Take the brand-new Apple store, now housed in the Carnegie Library, which was lovingly restored to include a learning atrium and upgraded space for the resident DC History Center. Initial fears that Apple would exploit and destroy the Beaux-Arts space have evaporated amid excitement that locals are promoting the stylish, revitalized platform. This includes a three-day block party hosted by creative agency No Kings Collective at the end of June to wrap up Carnegie’s six-week StoryMakers Festival.

The way we travel is going through the same evolution. In 2019, if someone is going to pause Insta and actually go somewhere, the most attractive hotels are those integrating social awareness, the arts and cutting-edge comfort with the guest experience – and enriching the local scene in the process.

Guests are not just buying a hotel room. They are selecting from a menu of self-improvement, artist and small-business support, and modern style. The stylishness is immediately obvious when you walk into Eaton DC, located on the quiet side of Franklin Square downtown. The enormous windows, lush natural foliage and blonde paneling immediately impart a sense of balmy well-being.

Eaton DC Radio // Photo: Adrian Gaud

But style – and Instagramability – is only part of the experience.

“Eaton DC not only serves as a hotel, but at its heart, as a platform reimagining hospitality as a vehicle for art and radical progressive social change,” says Katherine Lo, founder of Eaton Workshop, which encompasses the hotel.

The lobby includes a recording studio, home of Eaton Radio, and Lo is excited to officially launch Eaton Media later in 2019.

“As one of the core pillars of Eaton Workshop – culture, impact, media, wellness and house – Eaton Media’s mission will support underrepresented filmmaker voices and stories in line with the brand’s radical and progressive values, championing diversity and inclusivity across gender, race, identity and more,” she notes. “We will curate, develop, produce, distribute and celebrate original, rarely seen and commissioned short films from filmmakers whose development as artists and storytellers we are truly honored to support.”

LINE DC’s Full Service Radio // Photo: Pierre Edwards

Meanwhile, LINE DC leads with style and a sense of history. The hotel is an AdMo Insta-star for its location in a breathtakingly restored 19th-century neoclassical church (the church’s organ was transformed into a contemporary chandelier).

“The LINE is wholly shaped by the neighborhood that we’re part of, and by the city at large,” says Morgan H. West, creative/culture director at the LINE.

Guests can peer into the glass-enclosed recording studio, home of Full Service Radio, a community podcast network and Internet radio station. Recent episodes include “Opaline: Briona Butler’s Iridescent Utopia in DC” and “WPA Live Series: Veronica Swift & the U.S. Air Force Band.”

The LINE also operates the Adams Morgan Community Center, a community and nonprofit incubator space that provides free space and capacity for the arts and philanthropic efforts, with priority given to artists and nonprofits in Ward 1.

“Whether it’s through partnerships with the DC Public Library, the Ward 1 nonprofits working in the Adams Morgan Community Center, or the artists featured throughout the hotel and in our rotating public art program – we’re proud of the constant cultural and creative exchanges that happen across our spaces,” West says.

But not every stylish, socially conscious hotel needs a radio station. With a focus on modern budget travelers, Pod DC has led the way in integrating city life into its amenities and using them to move guests out into the District beyond the museums and monuments.

Photo: courtesy of Pod DC

Guests can access Cove, DC’s homegrown coworking brand, to get work done or network with local entrepreneurs. And rather than operate an onsite gym, guests use the nearby Washington Sports Club. Local guides lead walking tours from the lobby, and guests are encouraged to use the bike and scooter sharing services to get around.

And Pod DC has not sacrificed style in the process. Guests entering the lobby are mesmerized by the 60-foot-long multimedia art piece, created by painter Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and glass artist Joseph Corcoran. The building also features other local artists through a partnership with CulturalDC, a nonprofit that partners with real estate developers and government agencies to ensure that arts and culture efforts are showcased across the city.

DC’s urban development incentives have certainly helped hotels looking to embrace local arts and community initiatives. But these Washington hotels have baked social and cultural dynamism into their brands as well as their business plans, and in the process are anchoring themselves in local life in a way that hotels have too often missed out on. I think it’s time for a staycation.

Eaton DC: 1201 K St. NW, DC; www.eatonworkshop.com/hotel/dc
LINE DC: 1770 Euclid St. NW, DC; www.thelinehotel.com/dc
Pod DC: 627 H St. NW, DC; www.thepodhotel.com/pod-dc

Photo: Ernie Tacsik // Haute Phototure

DC Festival Guide 2019

As the clouds dissipate from the sky and make way for the sun to illuminate the world, tents and stages begin to roll out for perhaps the most vibrant time of the year: festival season. From big to small, festivals represent inviting areas for people to mingle in areas meant to incite enthusiasm and joy. Luckily for us, residents of the DMV live in one of the most fertile grounds for these events in the country, whether you’re looking to chow down on fare at the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle or want to dance to pure exhaustion at Funk Parade and DC101’s Kerfuffle. Over the next few pages, we’ve collected an extensive list of some of the very best the region has to offer with details on what to expect from each, plus interviews with local festival makers and some of our top picks.


THURSDAY, MAY 2 – SUNDAY, MAY 12

Pow! Wow! DC
Since 2016, artists from the DC region and around the globe – a different mix each year, lead by DC’s very own Kelly Towles – have come to NoMa for 10 days in May to create larger-than-life murals that enliven buildings and streetscapes. The 10-day celebration of art features a kickoff event at Wunder Garten, mural walking tours and more. Various dates, times and locations; www.nomabid.org/pow-wow-dc

FRIDAY, MAY 3 – SUNDAY, MAY 5

M3 Rock Festival
Now in its 11th year, M3 Rock Festival has grown from up-and-comer to a definitive way to party like it’s 1989. Start with the annual Kix-Off Party on Friday, and head into the festival on Saturday and Sunday. M3 features enough hard rock and hair metal bands to make your head spin. Lineup includes Dokken, Whitesnake, Autograph and Vince Neil. Various times. Tickets are $80-$255. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

Sleepy Creek Spring Dig
Returning for its sixth year, this annual campout offers a stellar line up of local roots music and national superstars. Other attractions include playgrounds, parades, face painting, food, arts and crafts, late night bonfires and open jam circles. Sleepy Creek events remain dedicated to providing fun for all ages and creating memories that last a lifetime. Early arrival party with Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers starts at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday 12:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. Sunday open mic party. Exit by 5 p.m. Tickets are $60-$100. Free admission for kids 15 and under. Sleepy Creek on the Potomac: Joshua Lane in Berkeley Springs, WV; www.sleepycreekpresents.com

SATURDAY, MAY 4

Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival
Join DC’s signature folk festival in its 10th year with headliners Dustbowl Revival, The Ballroom Thieves and Hackensaw Boys, along with a host of other featured artists. Celebrate spring at this Best of DC 2018 award-winning festival with amazing local talent, tremendous local merchants and the natural beauty of the nation’s capital. 12-8 p.m. Tickets are $35-$100. Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival: 575 Oklahoma Ave. NE, DC; www.kingmanislandbluegrass.info

SATURDAY, MAY 4 – SUNDAY, MAY 5

National Wine & Food Festival
A world class, waterfront culinary event! Join in the excitement of the 11th annual Wine and Food Festival at National Harbor; bringing together world-renowned chefs, artisanal craftsmen and culinary pioneers with thousands of Metro DC’s foodies. 12-6 p.m. Tickets begin at $40. National Harbor Waterfront: 804 National Harbor Blvd. National Harbor, MD; www.wineandfoodnh.com

SUNDAY, MAY 5

Fiesta Asia Silver Spring
Fiesta Asia Silver Spring brings together diverse Asian cultures on one street, where participants can experience the richness of the arts and tradition the region has to offer. Happenings include live performances, open market exhibitors, interactive displays, dance, music and much more. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free to attend. Fiesta Asia Silver Spring: 916 Ellsworth Dr. Silver Spring, MD; www.fiestaasia.org

FRIDAY, MAY 10 – SUNDAY, MAY 12

Preakness Balloon Festival
The Howard County Fairgrounds will brighten the skies this year as the centerpiece venue for the long-running balloon festival. Spectators will enjoy the wonder of hot air balloons, specialty crafts, entertainment and good food during this family-friendly festival. Friday  4-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday Mother’s Day Morning Balloon Flight 6:15-7:45 a.m. Balloon ride tickets are $250. Howard County Fairgrounds: 2210 Fairgrounds Rd. West Friendship, MD; www.preaknessballoonfestival.com

SATURDAY, MAY 11

Maryland Craft Beer Festival
Celebrate your favorite Maryland breweries at the Maryland Craft Beer Festival. More than 40 local breweries will present nearly 200 unique, finely crafted ales and lagers. There will be live music, delicious food and fun craft vendors. 12-5 p.m. Tickets are $40, with $15 designated driver tickets available. Carroll Creek Linear Park: 44 South Market St. Frederick, MD; www.mdcraftbeerfestival.com

Of Ale and History Beer Fest
Find more than 50 beers available for tasting including European imports, American craft brews, hard ciders and specialty beers at the longest running beer festival in Virginia. Enjoy live music all day from Mojo Mothership and The Robbie Limon Band. Admission includes a souvenir glass, eight tastings and access to all vendors. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. At the gate, tasting tickets will be $30. Designated drivers or guests under 21 may purchase admission tickets for $10, including two non-alcoholic beverages. Belle Grove Plantation: 336 Belle Grove Rd. Middletown, VA; www.bellegrove.org

SATURDAY, MAY 11 – SUNDAY, JUNE 9

Virginia Renaissance Faire
Find music and dancing, shops filled with the finest crafts, and a variety of foods and beverages at the Virginia Renaissance Faire. Join the militia in pike drills or present a case in the Court of Common Pleas. Entertainment and vendors to be announced. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are $12. Free admission for kids 6 and under. Lake Anna Winery: 5621 Courthouse Rd. Spotsylvania, VA; www.varf.org

THURSDAY, MAY 16 – SATURDAY, MAY 18

Domefest
Head to the lineup page to view all of the bands playing at Domefest 2019 alongside Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Aqueous, Magic Beans, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, The Fritz and more. Stay tuned to social media for fun updates including themes, late night acts and workshop information. Gates open Thursday at 1 p.m. and close Sunday 2 p.m. Tickets are $135. Marvin’s Mountaintop: Masontown, WV; www.domefestival.com

FRIDAY, MAY 17

SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience
A must-attend for craft beer aficionados and foodies alike, SAVOR offers a memorable craft beer and food experience to a limited number of guests in a truly unique atmosphere. At SAVOR, 90 small and independent craft breweries from around the country showcase 181 beers, each one thoughtfully paired with a small plate that will dazzle your palate. 7:30-11 p.m. Tickets $135. National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; www.savorcraftbeer.com

FRIDAY, MAY 17 – SUNDAY, MAY 19

Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
Festival attendees will enjoy viewing inspiring and innovative art in a wide variety of media and styles, interacting directly with artists from around the country, and exploring their own creativity in the Family Art Park, featuring free face painting and balloon animals. Expect to get a festival guide with more than $100 worth of coupons. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free to attend. Reston Town Center: 11900 Market St. Reston, VA; www.restonarts.org/fineartsfestival

Riverrock
From music to mud pits, bikes to beer, SUPs to pups, and climbing to kayaks – it’s uniquely Richmond! Rock the day and night away, watch professional athletes thrill the crowd, and maybe even get a little dirty yourself.  Friday 5-9:30 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sunday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Ticket prices vary. Historic Tredegar: 500 Tredegar St. Richmond, VA; www.riverrockva.com

Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour
Celebrate the history of wine in Virginia with exclusive evening tours of the mansion and cellars, more than 20 Virginia wineries, and live music overlooking views of the estate and the Potomac River. 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $42-$48. Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. Mt. Vernon, VA; www.mountvernon.org

SATURDAY, MAY 18

Adventure Brewing Company 5th Anniversary Festival
This brewery birthday party features live music and local vendors. Event is pet-friendly. Check the website for daily updates on festival details. 12-10 p.m. Free to attend. Adventure Brewing Company: 33 Perchwood Dr. Fredericksburg, VA; www.adventurebrewing.com

Fiesta Asia Street Fair
The 13th annual National Asian Heritage Festival’s signature event, the Fiesta Asia Street Fair, features more than 1,000 performers on five stages representing more than 20 cultures. Enjoy outdoor craft exhibits, live performances, food and open market vendors, interactive displays, martial arts demonstrations, talent shows, cooking demos and many more. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Free to attend. Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 6th Streets, NW, DC; www.fiestaasia.org

InfieldFest
InfieldFest is a full-day music festival that takes place amid one of the most anticipated and attended annual sporting events, the Preakness Stakes. The 2019 lineup features Norwegian DJ Kygo, Maryland’s own Logic, Diplo, Juice WRLD, Fisher and Frank Walker. 8 p.m. Tickets are $79-$199. Pimlico Race Course: 5201 Park Heights Ave. Baltimore, MD; www.infieldfest.com

SATURDAY, MAY 18

Pearl Street Preakness Party
Join Pearl Street for an official Preakness party, infield style. Party to live music from Lovely Rita, enter our hat contest, then catch the race on the big screen. The bars will be open and they’ll have plenty of Stella Artois and Black Eyed Susans. Must be 21 and over to consume alcohol. 4-7 p.m. Free to attend. Pearl Street in SW, DC; www.wharfdc.com

Sour Mania! Sour Beer Festival
Pucker up and join the 2nd Annual Sour Beer Festival. Sample special and limited edition sour ales from around the region and across the country at this indoor event. Enjoy live music and fantastic food while sipping some truly tart ales. Starts at 11 a.m. Admission is free, samplers and snacks available to purchase. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

Virginia Wine & Craft Festival
Grab a drink and hit the caves. Relax and enjoy shopping for handmade crafts from over 100 vendors, artists and crafters from all over the East Coast, listen to live music, play games and try wine from 20 different wineries. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free to attend, $25-$30 for wine tasting. Historic Downtown Front Royal: 106 Chester St. Front Royal, VA;www.wineandcraftfestival.com

SATURDAY, MAY 18 – SUNDAY, MAY 19

Wine in the Woods
The 27th Annual Wine in the Woods is the largest wine festival in Maryland and continues to rank among the best festivals in Howard County. Sample a variety of Maryland’s finest wineries from a souvenir glass, purchase food from an abundance of high quality restaurants and caterers, attend wine education seminars, purchase art and specialty crafts, and revel in continuous live entertainment from the Unified Jazz Ensemble, Bad Influence and I&I Riddim. Saturday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25-$44. Symphony Woods Park: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.wineinthewoods.com

SUNDAY, MAY 19

Porchfest DC – Southeast Edition
Porchfest is a festival of mini-concerts held on front porches. The Southeast Porchfest embodies the life and soul of DC, spotlighting the region’s top emerging talent and is an outing for the entire family! With well-manicured lawns, tree-lined streets and super friendly residents, Hillcrest is the perfect choice for the 2019 Southeast Porchfest. This year’s line-up includes spoken word performances and bands representing all music genres, including: jazz, folk, rock, hip-hop and go-go. There will also be food trucks, vendors and more! Please bring a lawn chair, walking shoes and cash to tip the performers. For updates, follow @porchfestdc on Instagram. The map of the final performance route will be published the second week of May. 12-6 p.m. Free to attend. The Hillcrest community in SE DC; www.porchfestdc.com

SUNDAY, MAY 19

DC Polo Society
Are you on the list?
www.dcpolo.com

THURSDAY, MAY 23 – SUNDAY, MAY 26

DelFest
With acts like The Del McCoury Band and The Travelin McCourys, this family-friendly music festival is pure bluegrass bliss. You’ll find incredible music all day long on multiple stage, intimate artist playshops, late night shows, a fun-filled kidzone, a quality art and craft faire, delicious food and drinks, plentiful camping space and RV hookups, and much more. Various times and performances each day. Various ticket packages available. Allegany County Fairgrounds: 11400 Moss Ave. Cumberland, MD; www.delfest.com

FRIDAY, MAY 24 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2

SummerFest at Gaylord National
The Capital Region’s premier waterfront resort, Gaylord National, comes alive with Summer FUN!  Overnight guests can enjoy resort entertainment and activities as part of their annual SummerFest. From outdoor events and great music to campfire stories, scavenger hunts, seasonal cocktails and more, there is something for everyone. Whether you are visiting the DC area to sightsee, a family looking for a getaway or a great night out with friends, you will find everything you need to make your summer getaway memorable. Various times. Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center: 201 Waterfront St. National Harbor, MD; www.marriott.com

SATURDAY, MAY 25 – SUNDAY, MAY 26

Caribbean Wine, Music and Food Festival
Listen to steel drums and reggae beats while enjoying arts and crafts, great food and the island vibes of this wine festival. Open your palate to unique Linganore wines and take home a souvenir wine glass. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $25. Linganore Wine Cellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD; www.linganore-wine.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 29 – SATURDAY, JUNE 2

Focus on the Story Festival
Focus on the Story is an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit organization based in DC, founded on the driving principle that photography can spark meaningful conversations at the intersection of policy, civic engagement and visual storytelling. Join in the nation’s capital as they celebrate the art of photography and the stories behind the images with talks, workshops, portfolio reviews, exhibits, contests and photo walks about everything from Brutalist architecture to the White House. Various times and locations. Registration is $225-$245. Student rates available. www.focusonthestory.org

THURSDAY, MAY 30 – SATURDAY, JUNE 2

Mountain Music Festival
Mountain Music Festival is an annual celebration of the best outdoor adventures West Virginia has to offer, with live music to match. Situated on a 1,500-acre outdoor adventure resort in the New River Gorge, Mountain Music Festival brings the spirit of Appalachia to life through its two greatest exports: music and wilderness. This year, Mountain Music Fest welcomes Tyler Childers, The Floozies, Big Something and many more to the stage atop Wonderland Mountain. Tickets are $79-$329. ACE Adventure Resort: 1 Concho Rd. Minden, WV; www.mountainmusicfestwv.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 1

Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival
Great Grapes! has grown to be Baltimore’s premier casual Maryland wine festival with live music, fun festival eats, arts and crafts, and a free kids’ area. Grab a souvenir glass and stroll from tent to tent, sipping and savoring selections from more than 150 different international and local wines, beers and spirits at Oregon Ridge Park. 1-8 p.m. Tickets are $40-$75. Oregon Ridge Park: 13401 Beaver Dam Rd. Cockeysville, MD;www.uncorkthefun.com

Takoma Trukgarten
Don’t miss Takoma Trukgarten featuring local beer, food trucks and live music. This one-day beer festival features local breweries pouring over 20 different craft beers plus cider and a new wine tent. There will be local restaurants and food trucks plus live music all day! 12-5 p.m. Tickets are $25-$45. City Parking Lot: 201 Ethan Allen Ave. Takoma Park, MD; www.mainstreettakoma.org

SATURDAY, JUNE 1 – SUNDAY, JUNE 2

FSGW Washington Folk Festival
The 39th Annual Washington Folk Festival showcases the diversity of traditional music in the DC area. All musicians, storytellers, dancer and craftspeople live in the greater DMV metropolitan area and volunteer their talents to put on a first-class festival of national renown. 12-7 p.m. both days. Free to attend. Glen Echo Park: 7300 MacArthur Blvd. Glen Echo, MD; www.fsgw.org

Vintage Virginia
Since 1982, Vintage Virginia has offered an opportunity to taste from nearly half of Virginia’s homegrown wineries, from the most renowned to the new and exciting. Saturday 12-6 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets cost $40-$65. Bull Run Special Events Center: 7700 Bull Run Dr. Centreville, VA; www.vintagevirginia.com

SUNDAY, JUNE 2

Taste of Peru DC
Taste of Peru celebrates the cultural influences and the creativity of Peruvian chefs all over the United States. The event promotes the unique culinary perspectives of local and international chefs. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $15-$40. University of the District of Columbia: 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.tasteofperudc.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 7 – SUNDAY, JUNE 9

Capital Jazz Fest
Come see Gladys Knight, Babyface, Gregory Porter, India.Arie, Marsha Ambrosius and more jazz and soul musicians at Merriweather Post Pavilion’s Capital Jazz Fest. Enjoy fine arts and crafts at the festival marketplace and culinary treats from the food court, plus artist workshops, plus meet and greets. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $59.50-$129.50. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 7 – SUNDAY, JUNE 16

DC JazzFest
The DC JazzFest invites you to explore the exceptional array of renowned masters and emerging artists from across the jazz spectrum and beyond. Find your favorite artists and various performances located throughout the District, including The Wharf and even in your own neighborhood through the Jazz in the ’Hoods concert series. Various showtimes, ticket prices and venues. Various locations in DC; www.dcjazzfest.org

SATURDAY, JUNE 8

Breaux Vineyards Cajun Festival
Come join your Cajun cousins at Breaux Vineyards the 22nd Annual Cajun Festival.  Enjoy wine tastings, craft vendors, Cajun fare for sale, and more at this annual celebration. Starting off the day, the festival will feature live music with the Voodoo Blues followed by The Dixie Power Trio for the rest of the afternoon. Kid-friendly activities will be available. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $20. Breaux Vineyards: 36888 Breaux Vineyards Ln. Purcellville, VA; www.breauxvineyards.com

Summerfest DC
Get your own tasting glass and enjoy more than 80 carefully selected craft beers in a single afternoon. Enjoy live music, unlimited wine and cider tastings and amazing food selections. Then get active with outdoor games, arts and activities. This is a 21 and over only event. Various times and ticket prices. The Bullpen: 1201 Half St. SE, DC; www.summerfestdc.com

SUNDAY, JUNE 9

Capital Pride Festival
Join the LGBTQ+ community, on America’s Mainstreet for the 2019 Capital Pride Festival presented by Live! Casino & Hotel. Enjoy a full day of entertainment, music, food, drink, education and celebration. The Pride Festival includes three stages of national and local talent, and will host 300 exhibitors including local community groups and businesses, food vendors, and organizations looking to promote their products and services to our community. 12-10 p.m. Free to attend, VIP packages are available for purchase. Pennsylvania Avenue & 3rd Street in NW, DC; www.capitalpride.org

SATURDAY, JUNE 15

5th Annual Baltimore Wine Fest
Join b Scene Events for the 5th Annual Baltimore Wine Fest at the picturesque Canton Waterfront Park. Experience 160+ wines from around the world, gourmet eats provided by local eateries, live music, chef cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, craft beers and spirits, unique shopping and a family zone. 12-7 p.m. Tickets are $15-$89. Canton Waterfront Park: 3001 Boston St. Baltimore, MD; www.baltimorewinefest.com

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ
Enjoy beer, bourbon, music, cigars and barbecue. Admission buys you a souvenir glass, so you can enjoy an all-you-care-to-taste sampling of the 60 beers and 40 bourbons on tap. The amazing barbecue selection includes the Shrine of Swine, featuring pulled pork right from the source. There’s also live rock and blues music all day. Additionally, the event comes to Leesburg in October. Tickets are $75-$119. 12-6 p.m. on Saturday. The Plateau at National Harbor: 165 Waterfront St. National Harbor, MD; www.beerandbourbon.com

FreeState Beer, Wine and Seafood Festival
Find the area’s best seafood, Maryland craft brewers, Linganore wines, awesome live music, and a special appearance by Justin Schlegel of Justin, Scott and Spiegel on 98 Rock at the Freestate Beer, Wine and Seafood Festival. Purchase a VIP ticket and receive a larger souvenir glass and access to an exclusive private area that includes indoor bathrooms. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $35-$50. Linganore Winecellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD; www.linganorewines.com

Silver Spring Blues Festival
Enjoy this all-day blues block party with two stages, a fountain to cool off in and plenty of places to eat and shop at the music-filled celebration in downtown Silver Spring. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Free to attend. 921 Wayne Ave. Silver Spring, MD; www.silverspringbluesfest.yolasite.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 15 – SUNDAY, JUNE 23

By the People
By the People is a new, inclusive, international arts and innovation festival that facilitates connection and celebrates creativity. Enjoy fun and free arts installations, performances, talks and programs about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Smithsonian will have extended evening hours on June 23, and augmented reality art at each of the festival sites. Various times. Free to attend. Various locations in DC; www.halcyonhouse.org/by-the-people

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 – SUNDAY, JUNE 23

AFI DOCS
AFI DOCS is the nation’s documentary film festival known for showcasing the best in documentary filmmaking from the US and around the world. AFI DOCS is also the only film festival in the United States that offers the unique opportunity to connect film audiences with national opinion leaders, filmmakers and intriguing film subjects. With conversations and experiences you won’t experience at any other film festival, AFI DOCS harnesses the power of this important art form and its potential to inspire change. Screenings during this annual five-day event take place in landmark venues in DC and the world-class AFI Silver Theatre, the independent film hub of the metropolitan region. Tickets are $50-$275. Various locations and times; www.afi.com/afidocs

THURSDAY, JUNE 20 – MONDAY, JUNE 24

Capital Congress
Capital Congress is the largest Salsa Festival in the DC area. Since 2005, thousands have come to DC to dance Salsa and other Latin styles in this family-friendly environment. Instructors from around the world teach daily dance workshops to all levels. All ages welcome. Various times. Tickets $110-$350. The Hilton Mark Center: 5000 Seminary Rd. Alexandria, VA; www.capitalcongress.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 21 – SUNDAY, JUNE 23

Firefly Music Festival
Your favorite summer weekend is just around the corner. Three days, several stages and countless bands. Artists include Panic! At The Disco, Tyler, The Creator, Courtney Barnett, Travis Scott, Passion Pit, Post Malone and many more. Various show times and ticket prices ranging from single-day camping passes to weekend passes. The Woodlands in Dover, DE; www.fireflyfestival.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 22 – SUNDAY, JUNE 23

27th Annual Giant National Capital BBQ Battle
Kick off summer at America’s barbecue party, the 27th annual Giant Barbecue Battle. Pennsylvania Avenue will be smokin’ with rock, reggae, jazz and blues from 30 bands on three stages. Cookbook authors and celebrity chefs like Myron Mixon, Moe Cason and Tuffy Stone of Destination America’s popular “BBQ Pitmasters” will entertain and educate with cooking demonstrations on the popular Giant Demonstration Stage. Enjoy free barbecue and grilled food samples in the Taste of Giant sampling pavilion while witnessing America’s best eaters onstage at Nathan’s famous hot dog-eating contest. Other activities include Anheuser-Busch beer gardens, and Giant Corks to Caps Microbrew and Wine Tasting tent. This year’s Capital BBQ Battle will raise funds for USO of Metropolitan Washington with the Capital Area Food Bank. Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tickets are $12-$155. Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets in NW, DC; www.bbqindc.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 29 – SUNDAY, JUNE 30

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
This festival honors contemporary living cultural traditions and celebrates those who practice and sustain them. Produced annually by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the festival has featured participants from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. This year’s festival will focus on the social power of music. Experience living traditions from around the world, as the festival works with communities to strengthen and preserve their cultures and share them with you on the National Mall. Festival hours and events TBD. Free to attend. The National Mall: www.festival.si.edu

TUESDAY, JULY 9 – SUNDAY, JULY 28

Capital Fringe Festival
Capital Fringe will showcase seven venues with 13 stages, all within walking distance of each other in Southwest DC, presenting more than 94 highly-ambitious productions with 60 percent of the participating artists residing in the DC Metro area. With countless performing groups, there’s bound to be something for everybody from theatre to dance, including risky art and nontraditional acts. Tickets are $72-$500 and go on sale June 17. The Logan Fringe Arts Space: 1358 Florida Ave. NE, DC; www.capitalfringe.org

SUNDAY, JULY 14

Silver Spring Arts & Crafts Summer Fair
Check out the Silver Spring Arts & Crafts Fair this summer, featuring arts and crafts, food and beverage vendors, a cultural dance show with performances from different countries around the world and many fun family activities. 2-8 p.m. Free to attend. Silver Spring Veterans Plaza: 1 Veterans Pl. Silver Spring, MD; www.chiceventsdc.com

FRIDAY, JULY 19 – SUNDAY, JULY 21

ARTSCAPE 2019
Check out fashion designers, outdoor sculpture, photography and art cars at America’s largest free arts festival. Experience the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other incredible live music on outdoor stages. Expect to see a delicious international menu of food and beverages available throughout the festival. Times TBD. Free to attend. Various locations in Baltimore, MD; www.artscape.org

SATURDAY, JULY 20 – SUNDAY, JULY 21

Summer Reggae Wine Festival
Shop the open-air market with hand-crafted and imported goods from around the world. Enjoy a day sampling delicious wines and listening to live bands. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. Linganore Winecellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD; www.linganorewines.com

 WEDNESDAY, JULY 24 – SUNDAY, JULY 28

FloydFest
FloydFest 19: Voyage Home is five days of music, magic and mountains in the picturesque paradise at Milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, VA. The festival features outdoor adventure, vibrant and varied vendors, quality brews and chews, healing arts, workshops and whimsy, children’s activities and a lineup featuring more than 100 artists on eight stages. Various times for each day. Single, multi and camping passes available for various prices. 894 Rock Castle Gorge Rd. Floyd, VA; www.floydfest.com

 SATURDAY, JULY 27

Trifecta Food Truck Festival
More than 35 of Maryland’s best food trucks will transform the racetrack into a festive playground with live bands, local craft beer tents, mechanical bull rides, a dunk tank, a pie-eating contest, a kids’ play land, moon bounces, a local artist village and more. 12-11 p.m. Tickets $15. Maryland State Fairgrounds: 2200 York Rd. Lutherville-Timonium, MD;
www.mt.cm/trifecta-food-truck-festival

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 11

Moonrise Festival
Since its debut in 2014, Moonrise Festival has grown into one of the most anticipated East Coast festivals of the summer, touching all corners of the dance floor with styles spanning from heavy-hitting bass to hip hop, live electronic acts to house music, and everything in between. The event also features art installations, a sprawling vendor village, amazing food and beverages, stylish VIP lounges and more. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. both days. Tickets are $149.50-$239.50. Pimlico Race Course: 5201 Park Heights Ave. Baltimore, MD; www.moonrisefestival.com

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11

Taste of Linganore
Presented by Linganore Winecellars & Red Shedman Farm Brewery, this event will showcase some of the area’s favorite restaurateurs and caterers, featuring samplings of small plates made with Linganore Wines. Stroll the grounds to shop unique local vendors while enjoying this foodie paradise, paired with great wines and craft beers.  11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $10-$15. Linganore Winecellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD; www.linganorewines.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 17

Around the World Cultural Food Festival
Around the World Cultural Food Festival brings together diverse, authentic, living traditions from different countries around the world. Their mission is to preserve and strengthen the culture of each country by giving all participants a chance to learn from one another and understand their cultural differences. Expect to see one restaurant for each country. Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Free to attend; VIP tickets are available for $25-$35. Freedom Plaza: 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.aroundtheworldfestival.com

Hot August Festival
The exciting music lineup this year includes Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Turkuaz, Billy Strings, Dirty Grass Players and more. Gates open at 11 a.m. Tickets are $58-$199. Oregon Ridge Park: 13401 Beaver Dam Rd. Cockeysville, MD; www.hotaugustfestival.com\

Kegs and Corks Festival
Head to the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds for the 8th Annual Kegs and Corks Festival, a beer and wine festival featuring 16 craft breweries and 16 Maryland wineries along with great music, good food and a variety of arts and crafts vendors. Unlimited samplings, live music and souvenir glass included. 12-7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$120. Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds: 1450 Generals Hwy. Crownsville, MD; www.kegsandcorksfest.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 22- SUNDAY, AUGUST 25

LOCKN’ Festival
Jam band fans: it may not get better than this. Two nights and four sets of Dead & Company, and three nights of awesome music from Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Revivalists, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Old Crow Medicine Show, Gary Clark Jr. and so much more. The stellar lineup is only matched by the beautiful setting in the mountains of Virginia. Various times. Tickets are $229-$289. Infinity Downs Farm: 1510 Diggs Mountain Rd. Arrington, VA;www.locknfestival.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24

Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival
This annual festival is an all-you-can-taste extravaganza complete with over 30,000 crabs, lots of beer, arts and crafts, live music, family fun and more. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. for session one, 5-9 p.m. for session two. Tickets are $40-$125. The Waterfront at SouthPointe National Harbor: 804 National Harbor Blvd. National Harbor, MD; www.mdcrabfest.com

Cigar, Bourbon and Beer Festival
Join for an amazing day of cigars, bourbon and craft beer. Hogshead Cigar Lounge will be showcasing all kinds of different cigars from their lounge. Explore a showcase of bourbons from all across the country and some from right there in Virginia. Check out some of their fine spirits they offer like Jack Daniel’s, Wild Turkey and Old Forester, plus craft beers from local Fredericksburg breweries sampling some of their award-winning beers. 4-9 p.m. Tickets are $10-$50. Fredericksburg Fairgrounds: 2400 Airport Ave. Fredericksburg, VA; www.cigarbourbonbeer.com

World Heritage Festival & Festival of Kites
Taste delicious ethnic food, get refreshed with a scoop of ice cream or shaved ice or even a fresh smoothie while enjoying a cultural show on the main stage. You will have an array of vendors to choose from with more than 60 artists displaying everything from fine art to jewelry, ceramics to crafts and every creative item in between. Other vendors include area nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs and local businesses. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free to attend. Ida Lee Park Recreation Center: 60 Ida Lee Dr. Leesburg, VA; www.chiceventsdc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

Virginia Scottish Games
You can wear a kilt and bring your dog! The Scottish Games are one of the few places inside the Commonwealth where you can experience authentic Scottish culture and traditions, including spectacular highland dancers, bagpipes, adorable Scottish dogs, cool British cars and sheep herding. Gates open at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20-$30. Great Meadow: 5089 Old Tavern Rd. The Plains, VA; www.vascottishgames.org

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

6th Annual Baltimore Seafood Fest
Baltimore loves its seafood, but Charm City also loves all the wonderful local restaurants that truly make Baltimore one of the best places for foodies to visit. Baltimoreans are so proud of their crab cakes, crab soup, shrimp salad, local oysters and of course, Maryland blue crabs. It seems fitting to host a waterfront festival showcasing some of Baltimore’s favorite restaurants serving their signature seafood dishes. 12-7 p.m. Tickets are $15-$95. Canton Waterfront Park: 3001 Boston St. Baltimore, MD; www.baltimoreseafoodfest.com

DC Wine Fest
Specially curated wineries serve patrons tastings over a multi-session, all-day, all-night vino experience. You’ll have the chance to sample premium wine to your heart’s content, while live entertainment keep the party lively during this one of a kind experience. 12-10 p.m. Tickets are $35-$60. National Union Building: 918 F St. NW, DC; www.dcwinefest.com

Virginia Cider Festival
At the Virginia Cider Festival, you and your friends will be surrounded by hard ciders from all across the country. The event will also feature even more Virginia Cider this year from cideries like Cobbler Mountain, Potter’s, Winchester CiderWorks and Bold Rock. There will be a list of more than 25 Cider producers who will be pouring over 50 ciders. Check out the local live music on the Safford of Fredericksburg stage for your listening pleasure. Be sure to check the weather for what to wear. The event will take place rain or shine. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are $10-$30. Fredericksburg Fairgrounds: 2400 Airport Ave. Fredericksburg, VA; www.vaciderfest.com

SATURDAY,  SEPTEMBER 21

Arts & Ales: Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival
Enjoy more than 100 exhibiting artists and artisans, Maryland breweries, food trucks and vendors and live entertainment block by block in Downtown Hyattsville. 12-6 p.m. Free to attend. Farragut Street, Gallatin Street and Church Alley in Hyattsville, MD; www.hyattsvilleartsfestival.com

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29

Devils Backbone Hoopla Festival
Devils Backbone Brewing Company’s Hoopla Festival features live music, award-winning beer, camping and fun for the whole family. The weekend includes pop-up beer tastings, outdoor adventures, property tours, crafts, great eats and tons of incredible live music. Come check out the award-winning beer and bands, including Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Kat Wright and the Jon Stickley Trio. Tickets $50-$340. Basecamp Brewpub and Meadows: 200 Mosbys Run, Roseland, VA; www.dbbrewingcompany.com

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5

Hops & Harvest Festival
A beer festival on the Columbia, MD lakefront with unlimited tastings of more than 50 beers from Maryland brewers. The festival also features cideries, artisans and live music. Tickets are $15-$40. Columbia Lakefront: 10275 Wincopin Cir. Columbia, MD; www.hopsandhavest.com

CONCERT SERIES

WEDNESDAY

Wednesdays at the Wharf Concert Series
June 5 – August 21
Head to The Wharf each Wednesday evening this summer to listen to live music on Transit Pier. Don’t miss DC favorites such as Collective Dellusion, Jarreau Williams Xperience, Brent & Co. and more playing on the floating stage. From indie rock to Latin fusion, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy ice cold beers and food from Cantina Bambina and take a mid-week break. 6-8 p.m. Free to attend. The Wharf: 700 Water St. SW, DC; www.wharfdc.com

THURSDAYS

Bethesda Summer Concert Series
May 16- June 13
Bask in the sweet melodies and the summer air as you catch the music in Veterans Park. Featuring local favorites like Brent & Co., Moxie Blues Band, 19th St. Band and more. 6-8 p.m. Free to attend. Veterans Park: 7898 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.bethesda.org

THURSDAYS

Rosslyn Rocks
June 6 – 27
Grab your friends and head to Central Place Plaza on Thursdays in June to listen to live music. Each week will be a new cover band, featuring Party Like It’s, White Ford Bronco, The Jarreau Williams Xperience and Driven to Clarity. Enjoy the concerts while sipping on a glass of wine or having a beer in downtown Rosslyn’s outdoor space. Must be 21+ (no outside alcohol). 6-8 p.m. Free to attend. Central Place Plaza: 1800 N Lynn St. Arlington, VA; www.rosslynva.org

FRIDAYS

Budweiser Terrace Pregame Concerts at Nationals Park
Select Fridays May to September
Every Friday home game, the best place to pregame is at the Budweiser Terrace inside the ballpark. Enjoy cold Bud and Bud Light and great tunes from local bands like Lovely Rita, Uncle Jesse  and Hand Painted Swinger. Concerts run from 5-6:50 p.m. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Nationals Park Bud Light Terrace: 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, DC; www.nationals.com

Farragut Fridays
May 31 – September 27
Farragut Fridays are a full day of getting outside in the Golden Triangle. Starting at 9 a.m., drop in for an outdoor “office” that includes free Wi-Fi, tables and chairs, and games to get your creative juices flowing. At noon, the picnic in the park begins. Grab a bite to eat, play lawn games (cornhole, foosball and table tennis), hang out with puppies and listen to live music. Then, head back after work for the Golden Cinema movie series. Pre-show fun starts at 7 p.m. Free to attend. Farragut Park: Connecticut Avenue and K Street in NW, DC; www.goldentriangledc.com

Fridays at Fort Totten
June 7 – Aug 23
The Fridays at Fort Totten Summer Concert Series is every Friday through August 23. Come out and enjoy delicious bites from a featured food truck each week, and amazing live music from Of Tomorrow, Sol Roots, Cecily, Oh He Dead and so many more. There’s a new band and tasty food truck each Friday. We hope to see you there. In partnership with The Modern at Art Place. 6-8 p.m. The Modern: Corner of South Dakota Avenue and Galloway Street, NE, DC; www.fridaysforttotten.com

Friday Night Concerts in Yards Park
June 7 – August 30
Spend your Friday night relaxing in the Capitol Riverfront, voted one of DC’s best places for live music!  Spread a blanket, grab a cold one and get down with some great local music. Enjoy bands like the Shane Gamble Band, 7 Deadlies, Brent & Co., Aztec Sun and more on the boardwalk stage. The featured artists are fun for the whole family, and ice cold Corona beers and wine will be available on-site at the outdoor tented bar. 7-9 p.m. Free to attend. Yards Park: 355 Water St. SE, DC; www.capitolriverfront.org

Herndon Friday Night Live!
May 3 – August 23
Enjoy another year of Herndon Rock’s cold beer, hot tunes and fantastic food during the summer. Featuring party favorites Garden State Radio, Here’s to the Night, The Stormin’ Norman Band and more, Herndon takes you through the summer with the best local and regional talent from the East Coast. 6:30-10:30 p.m. Free to attend. Town Green: 777 Lynn St. Herndon, VA; www.herndonrocks.com

Lubber Run Amphitheater Summer Concert Series
June 14 – August 11
This year’s 50th anniversary summer concert series features a diverse lineup of internationally renowned musicians and regional favorites. Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m., and Sunday shows at 11 a.m. Free to attend. Lubber Run Amphitheater: North Columbus and 2nd Streets, Arlington, VA; www.arlingtonarts.org

Rio Concert Series
May 25 – September 28
Every Saturday night, the party is lakeside at the Rio Center boardwalk. Just outside the Union Jack’s and near the paddle boards, enjoy live music from Handpainted Swinger, Soctt Kurt & Memphis 59, City Groove and more. 6-9 p.m. Free to attend. Rio Washingtonian Center: 209 Boardwalk Pl. Gaithersburg, MD; www.riowashingtonian.com

Rock the Block
May 24, June 28, July 26, August 23, September 27 and October 25
Rock the Block at Old Town Square in Fairfax is back this summer. Each fourth Friday of the month from June through October, walk, run, ride your bike or drive because you don’t want to miss out on The Rockets, JunkFood, The Reflex and more. Food and drink vendors will be onsite. Bring chairs or blankets to sit on, and kids can wear swimsuits and bring towels for the splash pad. No pets allowed except service animals. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Old Town Square: 10415 North St. Fairfax, VA; www.fairfaxva.gov/government/parks-recreation/rock-the-block

Tarara Winery Summer Concert Series
May 25 – October 5
Named the Best Music Festival by Northern Virginia Magazine, the Tarara Summer Concert Series celebrates 20 years in 2019 as one of the most eagerly anticipated outdoor events of the season in Loudoun. Dance under the stars on Saturday nights this summer to the sounds of your favorite cover bands, such as The Reflex, Gonzo’s Nose, The Legwarmers, Bruce in the USA, Crack the Sky, Three Sheets to the Wind and more. Tarara Winery: 13648 Tarara Ln. Leesburg, VA; www.tarara.com

MOVIE NIGHTS

TUESDAYS

Adams Morgan Movie Nights
May 21 – June 18
The Adams Morgan BID is excited to announce this year’s Adams Morgan Movie Nights lineup as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by collaborating with the National Air and Space Museum to bring you five great space-themed titles, including Armageddon and Spaceballs, and a few surprises along the way. Each movie starts at 8 p.m. Free to attend. Marie Reed Soccer Field: 18th and California Streets, NW, DC; www.admodc.org/movies

WEDNESDAYS

NoMa Summer Screen
June 5 – August 21
This season marks the 12 of NoMa’s Summer Screen series, one of the longest-running free public events in the neighborhood. This year features a fun lineup of sports-related films including The Karate Kid, Bend It Like Beckham, Remember the Titans and Bring It On. Each film begins at approximately 8:30 p.m. Free to attend. 1150 First St. NE, DC; www.nomabid.org

THURSDAYS

Canal Park Movies
June 13 – August 22
From classics to the latest Academy Award winners, the people spoke and the movies will be shown! Join the Riverfront community for free movies at Canal Park on Thursday evenings. Films this year include: Crazy Rich Asians, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Goonies and more. Movies begin at sundown. Free to attend. Canal Park: 200 M St. SE, DC; www.capitolriverfront.org

Tunes in the Triangle
May 30,  June 6, June 20, August 6, September 5
Stop by Milian Park on select Thursdays this summer with your friends, family and/or pets for free live concerts from great local bands. 499 Massachusetts Ave NW, DC; www.mvtcid.org

FRIDAYS

Burgeoning Crystal City Bid
Crystal City has been in the news a lot lately, and there’s definitely plenty to talk about. Just minutes from downtown DC, the greater Crystal City area (consisting of the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard-Arlington neighborhoods) is the largest walkable downtown in Virginia, with 12-million square feet of office, 15,000 residents, 5,900 hotel rooms, and almost 500 restaurants and retailers. In addition to experiential retail like Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Bowlero opening in the near future, Crystal City has more than 250 events each year. From weekly live music outside at the Crystal City Water Park to the Twilighter 5K, there’s always fun to be had in Crystal City. For more information on events and happenings, visit www.crystalcity.org.

Rosslyn Cinema with Pub in the Park
June 7 – July 12
Every Friday this summer in Gateway Park, bring a blanket or low chairs and a group of friends to enjoy a night under the stars with your favorite movies. Movies start at dusk, but the fun starts at 5 p.m. with games and the Pub in the Park. Movies this year include Spider Man: into the Spider-Verse, Crazy Rich Asians and more. This event is kid- and dog-friendly. 5 p.m. Free to attend. Gateway Park: 1300 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA; www.rosslynva.org

FRIDAYS

Union Market Drive-In
May 3 – October 4
The drive-in at Union Market is back for a new season! The first Friday of every month will feature classics like Con-Air and Jaws,  and recent films like Coco. There’s a film for everyone. The lot opens at 6 p.m., and films will start at 7:30 p.m. $15 parking fee; free walk-ups. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.unionmarketdc.com

Off the Beaten Path Events

No matter where your interests lie, you can bet there’s a festival catering to the more specific interests of DMV denizens. Our list below points you in the direction of the cool, the quirky and the oddly specific for prime opportunities to celebrate with fellow whatever-your-thing-is enthusiasts.

SATURDAY, MAY 4

Unicorn Festival at Hogback Mountain Pony Rides
This festival has been voted Most Loved Place to Go by Leesburg-Ashburn Hulafrog for 2018 and  2019. It includes Pony rides, unicorn photos by Chris Weber Studios, face painting with Painted Sunshine, vendors and so much more.11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets begin at $20. Hogback Mountain Pony Rides: 19732 Hogback Mountain Rd. Leesburg, VA; www.hogbackmountainponyrides.com

National Math Festival
Don’t miss the 2019 National Math Festival. This all-ages event brings today’s most fascinating mathematicians together for a variety of presentations, performances, short creative films, and hands-on puzzles, games, art-making, mathletic competitions and more. See how math connects to what you love.Film animation, pro football, magic, music, dating, dance, art, cryptography, planet earth….whatever your interest, they’ve got the math for that. Free to attend. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Walter E. Washington Convention Center: 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW, DC; www.msri.org

SATURDAY, MAY 11

Baltimore Hot Sauce Festival
Sample 30+ of the region’s tastiest hot sauces. This event also features spicy Maryland indie and alternative rock on stage, with performances by Outcalls, Thunder Club, Sgt Gusto and more. Don’t miss delectable food, themed drinks and saucy games. 12-8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$45, and there is a $5 surcharge at the door for guests under 21 years old. All guests will be carded upon entry, so don’t forget your IDs. Power Plant Live!: 34 Market Pl. Baltimore, MD; www.powerplantlive.com

Taiwan Bubble Tea Festival
The Taiwan Bubble Tea Festival is a family- and kid-friendly fun event, open to all. The festival will be held at the Rockville Town Square. In addition to providing a variety of name-sake bubble teas, the festival will have education and outreach opportunities that strengthen social connections in the community. The festival will display rich Asian culture through live performances, crafts, arts and delicious traditional cuisines. This year, six different bubble tea vendors will be coming from the DMV area including Bubble & Tea, Sharetea, Bobapop, Gong-Cha, Tea-Do and Momo’s Cafe. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free with registration, and tasting cards are available to purchase on-site for $5, cash only. Rockville Town Square: 30 Maryland Ave. Rockville, MD; www.rockvillemd.gov

SATURDAY, MAY 18

Smile Herb Festival
Join Smile Herb Shop celebrating 45 years of herbs, gardens and herbalism education this May. Enjoy plants in our garden center, live music, food, garden tours, plant walks, lectures, natural product vendors and more. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free to attend. Smile Herb Shop: 4908 Berwyn Rd. College Park, MD; www.smileherbschool.com

Chesapeake Sea Glass Festival
With over 30 sea glass artisans from all over the area, this event is a fun-filled day of lectures and shard identifications. It will be a great way to see what people collect from each area and to have your shards identified and listen to lectures. Chesapeake College: 1000 College Cir. Wye Mills, MD; www.visitmaryland.org

SUNDAY, MAY 19

Maryland Psychic Fair
Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers and readers of all types, along with related arts and crafts vendors from Maryland and the surrounding areas, will come together for the Maryland Psychic Festival. For both those who are serious or for those who are just curious, this event can be anything from a life-changing experience to just a fun time. Three out of four tables offer some type of readings, one of the four tables offer related arts, crafts, books, oils, crystals, information and more. Snacks and soft drinks will be available to purchase. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets $5-$10 at the door, cash only. Bowie Elks Lodge No 2309: 1506 Defense Hwy. Gambrills, MD; www.fb.com/EventPsychics4u

THURSDAY, MAY 23 – SUNDAY, MAY 26

Maryland Deathfest 2019
A celebration of the best of death metal in the region. Performances take place across all major Maryland venues like Rams Head Live! and Baltimore Soundstage. Don’t miss the pre-festival party on Wednesday at Ottobar, featuring artists like Church of Misery, Yellow Eyes, Cro-Mags and more. Tickets $23-$249. Various times and locations; www.deathfests.com

FRIDAY, MAY 24 – SUNDAY, MAY 26

Museum of Science Fiction Gallery Opening at Escape Velocity 2019
The Museum of Science Fiction and NASA are partnering to bring Escape Velocity 2019 to Washington, DC. The event is a futuristic world’s fair to promote informal STEAM educational activities within the context of science fiction using the fun of comic cons and fascination of science and engineering festivals. Escape Velocity 2019 seeks to make a measurable positive impact to boost informal learning on the more conceptually challenging academic areas. Escape Velocity’s mission is to attract young people to science, technology, engineering, art, and math by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational, and entertaining science festival in the United States using science fiction as its primary engine. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free to attend. Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center: 201 Waterfront St. National Harbor, MD; www.escapevelocity.events

SATURDAY, MAY 25 – MONDAY, MAY 27

The FantasyWood Festival
The FantasyWood Festival hosted by ManneqArt and Circus Siren Pod is a magical three-day experience over Memorial Day Weekend. Join for a walk in the woods with surprises around each corner. Meet mermaids, fairies, watch live knights duel and even see a live unicorn. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m each day. Tickets $5-$20. The Chrysalis Theatre, Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods: 10431 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.visithowardcounty.com

Public school playground at Sedona, Arizona // Photo: Bill Bamberger

HOOPS Depicts International Connection

Basketball has always held the hearts of people from all over the world. Need proof? Just turn on your TV until you find an NBA game. Hell, you can look at just this past year’s all-star roster featuring players from Germany, Greece, Australia, Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland all sharing the same court.

Since the 1992 Summer Olympics and the formation of the Dream Team, basketball reached a fever pitch internationally. And though it’s unlikely that most kids who pick up the ball and head to a court will make it to the professional level, the game is nonetheless celebrated and played everywhere.

“It shows how we’re all connected around this common game,” photographer Bill Bamberger says. “It’s played worldwide. You can come upon [courts] in Italy and South Africa, and you can step up and play. It’s open to anyone willing to step on the court.”

Bamberger grew up hooping when he was a child, and in 2004, the established photographer began shooting courts near his home in North Carolina. Over the next 15 years, he traveled the country – and the world – collecting a diverse set of images depicting places people shoot, dribble and ultimately connect through this game. From now until next January, 75 large-format photographs from his massive collection are on display in his exhibition HOOPS at the National Building Museum.

“It was completely unintended,” he says. “I often start my projects close to home, and you expect to find courts everywhere. I love to explore the middle of nowhere, and I’d see these courts in cotton fields and in barns. I like some of the early ones that speak toward different times; not all of them are active and some are relics.”

Though the photographs are creatively captured through a series of environmental portraits, a majority of the 22,000 pictures feature basketball courts that aren’t what you’d expect to see at your local park. Some feature murals on bordering walls and a vibrant blacktop with a plexiglass backboard, while others are made up of a dirt surface with beat-up pieces of metal acting as rims.

“You take that basic design and it becomes interpreted in different ways,” Bamberger says. “The permutations are virtually endless, and each court reflects the design and influence of the host community.”

The courts are tremendously varied and display a certain amount of ingenuity on the part of the people who put them in place, while the backdrops for the photographs shed light on the communities they serve. From Italy and South Africa to New Hampshire and Philadelphia, each portrait displays a unique sense of place.

“I drove through Colorado and Utah and South Dakota just looking for hoops, and they were everywhere,” he says. “One of my favorites is a campsite in Utah. There was a hoop in the middle of these grassy fields and I photographed them in the distance, making the point that even in really remote places like this, you’ll find a court for young people.”

Bamberger didn’t just focus on public places; he often found extremely intimate settings worth immortalizing. There are a number of selections featuring courts in abandoned areas and others in family backyards.

“[For] some of the private places, I would stop and knock on the door. In every instance, I would ask. The same is true internationally. I remember I was on a court in Naples, Italy and there was a lot of ballers playing on the court. There was one who spoke some English, and I just asked them to clear the court.”

If nothing else, Bamberger set out to show how connected we are as a society through this one universal game. Whether your court is regulation-size in the middle of a city or involves a tree, a hubcap and a block of crooked wood, you can still pick up the ball and hoop.

“It’s been one of the truly fun projects to work on,” the photographer says, reflecting on the past decade. “I work on long-term projects, and as an artist, it’s been a joy to have something I can take worldwide. It represents the full range of the work. It’s probably time to let go, but it’s going to be hard. This exhibition represents a stopping point and opportunity to reflect on the project.”

HOOPS will be at the National Building Museum through January 5. Admission to the museum is $10. For more of Bamberger’s work, visit www.billbamberger.com.

National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; 202-272-2448; www.nbm.org

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie / Photo: © Wani Olatunde

Night of Ideas Comes to DC

Born in Paris in 2016, the Night of Ideas is where art, pop culture, science and politics collide. In 2018, it took place in more than 100 cities worldwide, and the first DC iteration recently took place on January 31.

Elise Girard, Deputy Press Counselor for the Embassy of France, says the Night of Ideas strives for “a mix of art and debate – not only political, but social issues.” At last week’s event, these issues were both explicit in the discussion – and implicit in the circumstances.

The Night of Ideas was originally slated to be at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. However, as French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud put it, “in DC there are some uncertainties, and one of them is called the [U.S. government ] shutdown.”

Organizers had a choice: cancel or move. Fortunately for DC Francophiles, the Night of Ideas simply moved to the Embassy of France. Lit up in yellow, pink, green and blue, the embassy shone like a beacon as visitors streamed in to begin the experience.

Attendees were immediately greeted by Providence, Rhode Island artist Kelli Rae Adams’ installation Mischief in the Boneyard. A winding trail of ceramic dominoes, the piece was inherently nerve-racking: if toppled, the dominoes could break. And when they did, the clatter echoed through the entrance hall. The three classic “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys were etched on one side of each domino – perhaps a metaphor for our time.

In fact, the evening carried the theme of “Facing our Time” – but the unspoken words might have been to “re-evaluate your relationship with Instagram, eh?”

The keynote speaker was celebrated writer and thought leader Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, who has one of the most-watched TED Talks of all time and wrote the acclaimed books We Should All be Feminists and Half of a Yellow Sun. At the Night of Ideas, she spoke beautifully about two concepts that are unlikely bedfellows: empathy and critical thinking. Emotion and rational thought are intertwined, she argued: “if we can think clearly, we can truly see other human beings.”

She also reflected on the modern world, the pull of social media, and its impact on how we think: “I have always wanted to live a life of the mind, of imagination, [but] I struggle to be absorbed.” Ultimately, she said, time to slow down, reflect, and savor our moments shouldn’t be a luxury, but a right.

Presenter Franklin Foer had a similar premise to his talk, “The Existential Threat of Big Tech.” He started with poet Mary Oliver’s famous quote: “attention is the beginning of devotion.” But according to Foer, the big tech companies and social media platforms – Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple – “invasively opened us up and mined us…hijacked the most precious thing we have.”

How to combat this hijacking of the human psyche? Books. As Foer put it, “reading is a place where we can connect to our humanity.” Ultimately, Foer said that the power to choose where to spend our time is ours – but we have to protect that time vigilantly.

But these ideas around modernity and the digitization of our lives were only one facet of a night filled with art, performance, music and debate. French performance artists Les Souffleurs Commandos Poétiques enlisted audience members in a living art installation, holding umbrellas over participants and whispering into their ears through long black tubes, creating almost a kind of architecture in the blue light that suffused the event space.

The options for talks to attend were almost overwhelming, with four to five options every hour, spanning a multitude of issues from art appreciation to gender equality to climate change to incarceration. But I’d say my favorite part of the Night of Ideas wasn’t a talk, but a performance: Marching Band Baltimore Project’s kickoff performance at the start of the night both set the tone and stole the show.

The drums reverberated throughout the embassy, the dancers in spangled costumes twirled and snapped at the waist, and everyone in the crowd was utterly rapt. There was no doubt in my mind that the time and attention I gave them was truly well-spent.

For more information on the Night of Ideas, click here