Do You Spell Here Often?

Spurred on by the popularity of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, organizers brought together the first adult DC Bee.

By: Molly Knight Raskin

While lots of adults happily rely on spell-check, there still are those who enjoy the drama of a spelling bee.

Spurred on by the popularity of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, organizers brought together the first adult DC Bee.

The hipper version of the traditional bee—complete with live music and a bar—packed DC’s Warehouse Theater.

“At first, we used music to draw a crowd,” says Nick Pimentel, a graphic designer and music booker who cohosted the six-round spelling bee, March to June. “But with each round, we realized it wasn’t the music people were coming for—it was the bee.”

At the championship round, more than 150 fans watched 16 finalists compete for the championship.

Ryan Kailath, 23, an Adams Morgan editor who also works in the music business, took home the grand prize, which included a trophy, a collection of CDs, and gift certificates to local bars and restaurants.

“I’ve had a lifelong love affair with words and languages, so when I heard about a spelling bee for adults, I thought, ‘Finally, a chance to show off my totally useless talent!’ ” he says. “My inner child got a bunch of gold stars.”

The winning word, cornucopia, was relatively simple, but along the way spellers encountered tough ones like thylacine—a doglike, carnivorous marsupial that is believed to be extinct—and sudadero—a Spanish word meaning a blanket beneath the saddle of a horse.

The first DC Bee was such a success that Warehouse Theater’s producing director, Paul Ruppert, says he plans to host another this fall.