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Thursday's event at Rock & Roll Hotel raised more than $1,000 for the Washington Humane Society. By Michael Gaynor
Image via Shutterstock.

I saw the future, and it was: cat cafes.

You knew they had to be coming eventually, didn't you? The first US version of the overseas phenomenon opened in Oakland this October. New York's launched on Monday. And last month, news of a Kickstarter-funded DC cat cafe made Washingtonians act as if they just snorted a line of catnip.

That cafe, called Crumbs & Whiskers, won't be open until at least the summer. But Thursday night, cat fanciers got a taste of the action when Rock & Roll Hotel hosted the city's first ever pop-up cat cafe in its upstairs bar area. And it was packed.

“I knew there was a lot of buzz, but I didn't expect it to get that big,” says Zenit Chughtai of the Washington Humane Society, which supplied the cats and got a 15-percent cut of the night's sales. Slots to get in filled up within an hour, necessitating the creation of a wait list for determined feline aficionados.

Last week, one of the Rock & Roll Hotel's owners told Washington City Paper he expected about 60 people to show up. The Humane Society is still waiting on exact attendance figures, but if you do a little math based on how many slots there were plus the length of the wait list, you get a number closer to 200. Among them, there was a higher than average percentage of cat ears being worn.

Ten cats were the stars of the show, lounging on the plush couches in the bar's two VIP rooms. All were adoptable, and Chughtai says about two dozen adoption applications were handed out to smitten bargoers. This reporter is mildly allergic to cats, so when I entered the room I mostly stuck to myself—though I did strike up a notable connection with a shorthair mix named Pop, who sat under a table and glowered at me. The rooms were filled with toys, but as a dog person, I had to be reminded that cats do not play fetch.

When attendees like myself weren't unsuccessfully trying to seduce the animals with squishy balls, they could peruse the tables of literature the Humane Society had set up around the bar, featuring books such as How to Tell If Your Cat Is Planning to Kill You. The organization raised more than $1,000, and Chughtai says the event's success means they'll be looking to hold more in the future. Dog people, you've been warned.

Posted at 03:58 PM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
All-you-can-drink bashes, no-cover bars, and more. By Sara Gilgore
Image via Shutterstock.

It’s hard to believe, but 2014 is almost over. If you’re looking to close out the year in style, you’ve come to the right place: We’ve rounded up options for every type of New Year’s Eve celebration, from debaucherous drink-fests to low-key gatherings and kid-appropriate parties. Want your event to be included? E-mail the details to

Live Music

Downtown Countdown at the Washington Hilton
Where: 1919 Connecticut Ave., NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $89 to $119 late entry, $119 to $149 general admission, $150 to $225 VIP
The fourth annual New Year’s Eve celebration features an all-inclusive night of live music, comedy, acoustic karaoke, open bars, and gourmet dinner buffets. Third Eye Blind and Delta Rae will perform before the balloon drop when the New Year hits. Organizers promise plenty of food and enough staffers that you won’t have to wait in massive lines. Purchase tickets ahead of time, and don’t forget your ID for 21-and-up entry.

New Year’s Eve at the 9:30 Club
Where: 815 V St., NW
When: 8:30 PM
Tickets: $55
Want to rock until the ball drops? See the Germantown band Clutch, playing old hits and the selection from their tenth album, Earth Rocker. Torche and Lionize will also perform at the DC music venue. The club will supply gratis bubbly for all attendees. Tickets are available online.

Kennedy Center’s 2015 New Year’s Eve Grand Foyer Party
Where: 2700 F St., NW
When: 10:30 PM
Tickets: Free with performance tickets; group tickets available online
This night of music and dancing is free if you’re seeing one of the earlier performances (see the website for options), or if you eat dinner at the Roof Terrace Restaurant that evening. Beginning at 10:30, the Craig Gildner Big Band transports you back to the swing era, with the sounds of Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. Then, the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra takes center stage, performing ’70s-style salsa covers of indie-rock favorites leading up to the countdown.

Old 97’s at the Hamilton Live
Where: 600 14th St., NW
When: 7:30 PM
Tickets: $60 to $85
Rhett Miller’s country-rock band headlines the venue’s first show of the evening—doors open at 7:30, and the concert starts at 9 with opener Vandaveer. Tickets include gumbo dinner and a midnight Champagne toast. Reserve a space on the floor for general admission.

19th Street Band at the Hamilton Live
Where: 600 14th St., NW
When: 10 PM
Tickets: $10
Want to see live music without dropping a ton of cash? Check out this Americana act in the Hamilton’s loft bar. No need to buy tickets in advance; just pay the $10 cover at the door.

All-You-Can-Drink Parties

Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill’s Moonlight Circus
Where: 400 New Jersey Ave., NW
When: 10 PM
Tickets: $99 general admission, $149 VIP
Bid adieu to 2014 with five hours of live circus acts, deejay music, a buffet and complimentary appetizers, party favors, and more. Watch the ball drop in Times Square on a live feed as a balloon drops right here. Tickets are available online.

Madhatter Ball
Where: 1319 Connecticut Ave., NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $75 early purchase discount
Five hours of open bar, a buffet, and deejay are just some of the offerings at this party. The two-floor, three-bar location has one of the biggest dance floors in the city, and will be handing out masquerade giveaways and Champagne to every guest. Ticket prices go up the closer it is to December 31, so it’s best to buy early.

Blackfinn DC
Where: 1620 I St., NW
When: 8 PM
Tickets: $75
A ticket here gets you unlimited beverages, appetizers, party favors, and Champagne; VIP admission comes with extra perks (see details online). Bring your ID and get there by 10:30; if the bar fills up, you’re out of luck, ticket or no ticket.

Project NYE DC Red Carpet Affair
Where: 1101 Sixth St., SW
When: 8:30 PM
Tickets: $135
Arena Stage’s “Oscars-style” gala features a deejay, gourmet dinner buffets, light displays, and a tremendous midnight celebration. Dress to impress for photos on the Red Carpet, and secure your space before planning the evening’s ensemble.

International Spy Gala
Where: 10 Thomas Circle, NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $139 regular admission, various prices for VIP, presidential, and late admission.
Music, ice sculptures, mock casino gambling, food and drinks, and two balloon drops are among the highlights at this annual all-inclusive bash, hosted by Euronet International. Come to the Washington Plaza Hotel wearing black tie or cocktail attire, bring a date or attend solo, and reserve a room to stay the night. Information about various ticket packages is available on the event’s website.

Big Night DC’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza
Where: 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $135 regular admission, various prices for VIP and late admission.
National Harbor’s Gaylord National Hotel and Resort hosts this year’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza, with 15 themed party areas, five dance floors, bands, deejays, and more. Check out the different ticket levels before prices skyrocket. Plan to stay the night and book a hotel room if you don’t want to start 2015 with a trek home.

Art Soiree’s Puttin’ on the Ritz New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: 3100 South St., NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $45
For the second year in a row, Art Soiree brings the celebration to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. The party features hors d’oeuvres, live music, a deejay, confetti and balloon drops, along with surprise performances in the Living Room lounge, Degrees bar, and ballroom.

Jack Rose’s New Year’s Party
Where: 2007 18th St., NW
When: 8 PM
Tickets: $125
Here, you’ll spend your last hours of the year with an open bar, live deejay, cigar specials, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and a photo booth, as well as the classic midnight Champagne toast. You can purchase tickets ahead of time here.

Sauf Haus Bier Hall
Where: 1216 18th St., NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $100 per person, $180 per couple, $340 for four-person groups
If unlimited premium rail cocktails, hot seasonal sips, wine, and beer sound like a good time, this party won’t let you down. There’ll also be food stations with heavy hors d’oeuvres and late-night snacks, $5 shot skis, a deejay and live music split between the first floor and covered roof deck, and more. Wear fancy attire and order your tickets here.

Blind Whino Arts Club’s Studio 54 New Year’s Eve
Where: 700 Delaware Ave., SW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $125 ($90 each for the first 100 tickets)
With three different deejays on the main floor, and a live band on the second floor, there’s no lack of music at the Blind Whino Arts Club party, thrown by Troyal Events, Jamestown Entertainment, and JBC Events. Look forward to an open bar throughout the night and a Champagne toast halfway through—the fun doesn’t end until 3 AM.

Masquerade Party at Ping Pong Dim Sum
Where: 1 Dupont Circle, NW
When: 10 PM
Tickets: $39
Space is running out at this hot New Year’s Eve spot, which features an all-inclusive selection of premium beer, wine, and signature cocktails. Ping Pong will also have deejay entertainment and a photo booth throughout the night.

A New Day at Southern Hospitality
Where: 1815 Adams Mill Rd., NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $30 to $40 before December 31, $45 to $50 New Year’s Eve day
The sixth annual party features two deejays, a one-hour open bar, hors d’oeuvres, party favors, and more. You won’t be stuck inside: The patio will be tented and heated for the occasion. More information and tickets are available on the event’s website.

Destination Tokyo: New Year’s Eve at Zengo
Where: 781 Seventh St., NW
When: 9 PM
Tickets: $30 and up
For Latin-Asian fusion hors d’oeuvres, Asian-inspired decorations, music, and a one-hour open bar, this is the spot to be. Your ticket also includes party favors and masquerade masks at the seven-hour event. Get them before the event sells out—it has for the past two years.

Family Events

Falls Church Watch Night
Where: 100 block of W. Broad St., Falls Church
When: 7 PM
The City of Falls Church hosts its 16th annual New Year’s Eve celebration for families and people of all ages. The event, which covers four downtown blocks, features live bands, amusements, a 20-piece orchestra, swing dancing, face painters, karaoke, inflatables, puppet shows, and more. A free shuttle bus will run every 30 minutes from the East Falls Church Metro station, and noisemakers will be distributed for the countdown to midnight.

Annapolis New Year’s Eve
Where: City Dock, Annapolis
When: Various activities throughout the day, beginning at 2:45 PM until midnight
The December 31 schedule kicks off with the Annapolis Drum and Bugle Corps downtown march. The day’s highlights include activities at the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, face painting, a magic show, a Caribbean show and limbo contest, and music from a deejay. Annapolis’s Best Party Band performs from 9 through midnight, and a countdown to the New Year culminates in a firework celebration. Restaurants and shops will also be open throughout the day.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Durant Arts Center, 1605 Cameron St., Alexandria
When: 2 PM
Tickets: $20, free for kids under 12 and active military
Bring the family to the 20th anniversary of this Old Town event. With more than 100 live performances and 22 indoor venues, you can spend New Year’s Eve enjoying the historic city. Music, dancing, and children’s activities are offered throughout the area, and restaurants, pubs, and hotels are also open for business, some with special deals. Afternoon activities begin at 2 and performances start at 7, leading up to the midnight firework show over the Potomac River. Participate in the Instagram challenge with the hashtag #FNA20th to win prizes and gift certificates. More information can be found online.

No-Cover Bars

Baby Wale
Where: 1124 Ninth St., NW
When: 5 PM
Doors open for happy hour, and the night continues with the usual beer, wine, and cocktails. No cover or up-charges means this is an excellent option for a fun night without the sticker shock.

Black Jack
Where: 1612 14th St., NW
When: 6 PM
The Mardi Gras masquerade-themed party will feature a live deejay, plus this bar’s staple craft cocktails in the lounge, bar, and indoor bocce courts.

Boundary Stone Public House
Where: 116 Rhode Island Ave., NW
When: Regular hours
Expect the usual solid food and booze selection in the balloon-decorated neighborhood pub. Toast with your friends at midnight to welcome 2015.

Where: 2233 Wisconsin Ave., NW
When: 8 PM
A good choice for gathering with friends while enjoying a stress-free holiday. End the year with old school hip-hop and soul music, special punches, and a complimentary Champagne toast when the clock strikes 12.

Mockingbird Hill’s Spanish New Year’s Eve
Where: 1843 Seventh St., NW
When: 9:30 PM
The Shaw sherry bar flaunts its Spanish roots with flamenco dancing, Mahou beer and sherry specials, a free cava toast, and a midnight grape-eating contest. Don’t worry about making a reservation before going—just show up.

Room 11
Where: 3234 11th St., NW
When: 5 PM
The Columbia Heights spot is great you’re looking for a more low-key night with some reliable fun. There'll be some specials along with the regular selection, starting during happy hour.

Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 12/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Classical and rock concerts, new ballets, and much more. By Tanya Pai
See Allen Stone (left) at the 9:30 Club on October 7, and get to know the forms of classical Indian dance at Wolf Trap on the 18th. Photograph of dancer courtesy of Wolf Trap.


Rival Sons
Fillmore Silver Spring
October 4
Big old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll is the name of the game for this group. They perform songs off Great Western Valkyrie, their latest album. $20.

Allen Stone
9:30 Club
October 7
Fans of St. Paul & the Broken Bones who didn’t get tickets to their 9:30 Club show later this month would do well to check out Stone, another neo-soul act with a slightly more hippie-ish vibe. $25.

Betty Who
Fillmore Silver Spring
October 7
The Australian pop sensation brings her compulsively danceable tunes to the stage. $16.

Electric Six
Black Cat
October 7
Pitchfork summed up this flamboyant Detroit band’s most famous singles, “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” as “transcendently dumb.” The flamboyant rockers are about to release their tenth album. $15.

Macy Gray
October 7
The R&B singer’s instantly recognizable rasp has given her staying power—the Grammy winner releases her eighth album this month. $49.50.

U Street Music Hall
October 11
The New Orleans duo makes bouncy indie pop reminiscent of 1950s groups. Sultry-voiced Arum Rae opens with modern soul. $15.

Markéta Irglová
The Hamilton
October 13
The Oscar-winning Czech singer/songwriter, known for her collaboration—and former romance—with Glen Hansard (her Once costar), just released Muna, her second solo album. $18 to $25.

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
October 15-16
Hear the falsetto that made its owner and his “Jersey boys” the subjects of a Tony-winning musical and a Clint Eastwood-directed biopic. $48 to $165.

Alice Russell and Yuna
Lisner Auditorium
October 17
Russell, a blonde, British soul singer shares the bill with Malaysian pop star Yuna and "tropical pop" artist Hollie Cook, the daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. $25 to $30.

Julian Casablancas & the Voidz
9:30 Club
October 17
Though the Strokes frontman gets more than his share of hype, his first solo effort, Phrazes for the Young, earned generally positive reviews. Casablancas released his first album with his new side project, the Voidz—which includes two members of the band that backs his solo shows—in September. $35.

Bombay Bicycle Club
9:30 Club
October 19
The English rockers continue to push the boundaries of their sound with So Long, See You Tomorrow, their most recent album. $30 (currently sold out).

Paula Cole
Wolf Trap
October 19
“I Don’t Want to Wait” endures as one of the most recognizable anthems of the ’90s; fans of Cole’s melancholic pop can look forward to newer material as well as her classics. $25 to $27.

K. Flay
Rock & Roll Hotel
October 23
This female rapper has a dual degree from Stanford to draw on for her witty wordplay skewering American excess. $12.

Cold War Kids
9:30 Club
October 24
The Long Beach rockers moved from indie to more radio-friendly fare such as “Miracle Mile” on last year’s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. Hear what’s in store for their fifth album, out this month. $28.

Gladys Knight
Warner Theatre
October 25
The Motown star comes to town for a concert including hits that have earned her seven Grammys. $65.50 to $99.50.

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Lisner Auditorium
October 31
The bluegrass-royalty husband and wife are on tour playing from their new self-titled album. $40 to $60.

Beijing Dance Theater comes to the Kennedy Center this month. Photograph courtesy of the Kennedy Center.


Martha Clarke’s Chéri
Kennedy Center
October 1-4
This tale of romance between a younger man and an older woman—created by MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Martha Clarke and based on a story by Collette—stars dancers Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo and actress Amy Irving. $42.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet

George Mason University’s Center for the Arts
October 3
The contemporary San Francisco company performs “Rasa,” set to music by percussionist Zakir Hussain, as well as other dances. $26 to $44.

Dance Place
October 4
Moroccan choreographer Hind Benali partners with hip-hop dancer Soufiane Karim and composer Mohcine Imraharn for live music and dance offering a window onto life as an Arab woman in North Africa. $25 to $30.

Velocity Dance Festival
Sidney Harman Hall
October 9-11
Since debuting in 2009, the festival has narrowed its focus from international to mostly local artists—but it’s still an affordable opportunity to see a range of styles and performers. $18.

Dance Theatre of Harlem
Sidney Harman Hall
October 17-19
Led by Virginia Johnson, who grew up in DC, the troupe returns for another run after last year’s sold-out engagement; co-presented by Washington Performing Arts and CityDance. $37 to $77.

An Evening of Indian Dance
Wolf Trap
October 18
The Indian Dance Educators Association puts on this showcase of traditional dance and music, featuring local performers as well as choreographers from India. $20 to $25.

Beijing Dance Theater: “Wild Grass”
Kennedy Center
October 22-25
Techno music and dancers as robots aren’t exactly ballet standards, but artistic director Wang Yuanyuan incorporates both. The three works on the bill are inspired by poems of the Chinese modernist writer Lu Xun. $42.

Petite Mort: Masterworks by Kylián/van Manen/Wheeldon
Sidney Harman Hall
October 22-26
The Washington Ballet performs three pieces by Jirí Kylián, Hans van Manen, and Christopher Wheeldon, set to live music. $37 to $132.

Carmen De Lavallade: “As I Remember It”
Kennedy Center
October 29-30
The dancer and actress presents a retrospective of her seven-decade career via dance, film clips, projections of personal writings, and other artifacts. $49.

Cirque Peking
George Mason University’s Center for the Arts
October 31-November 1
The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China perform logic-defying feats of tumbling, juggling, and more. $29 to $48.


Poulenc’s Organ Concerto
Kennedy Center
October 1-4
British conductor Matthew Halls returns to lead the NSO in Poulenc’s popular work. $10 to $85.

Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra
October 8
This orchestra, in existence since the ’20s, tours the US for the first time, playing pieces by Serbia’s Stevan Hristić along with other European composers. $25 to $55.

Ray Chen and Julio Elizalde
Kennedy Center
October 9
Washington Performing Arts presents a concert of Mozart, Beethoven, and more by 25-year-old violin virtuoso Chen (below) and American pianist Elizalde. $25.

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra

Kennedy Center
October 12
Combining traditional Chinese instruments and modern orchestration, this group—whose name means “the beauty of divine beings dancing”—explores its home country’s rich history. $49 to $89.

National Philharmonic: Dvorák’s New World Symphony
October 18-19
The philharmonic kicks off its season with a symphony written by the Czech composer during his stay in America. The evening also includes a performance by South Korean violinist Chee-Yun. $28 to $84.

Choir of Westminster
Washington National Cathedral
October 22
Hear the British choir and get a look at the pomp and grandeur that help make Westminster Abbey such a storied place. $25 to $85.

Music From the Films of Tim Burton
Kennedy Center
October 23-25
The Danny Elfman music that gives Burton-directed works (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Frankenweenie) much of their dark punch comes to life here, accompanied by visuals from the movies, sketches, and storyboards. $20 to $88.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: “Ein Heldenleben” (A Hero’s Life)
October 26
The BSO takes on Richard Strauss’s autobiographical tone poem. The bill also includes Christopher Rouse’s “Rapture” and Alexander Scriabin’s “Poem of Ecstasy.” $32 to $95.

Posted at 12:40 PM/ET, 10/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
FLOTUS went to the historic venue last night with friends to see Musiq Soulchild. By Sophie Gilbert

Michelle Obama with performer Musiq Soulchild. Photograph courtesy of the Howard's Facebook page.

When you're FLOTUS, you have a bangin' new hairdo, and you just want to have some fun after inauguration, what do you do? If you're Michelle Obama, you go see Musiq Soulchild at the Howard Theatre. 

Sporting a chic black jacket with a multicolored floral top underneath, Mrs. Obama went to the historic DC arts venue last night to celebrate a friend's birthday, according to the Howard Theatre's Facebook page, which also posted this picture of FLOTUS with the R&B singer. 

According to a source, Mrs. O. showed up with seven other women, including presidential senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, to celebrate a friend's birthday. "She was seen dancing in her seat throughout the show," the source relates. 

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 02/01/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The live shows you shouldn’t miss over the next seven days. By Jason Koebler
Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors perform a sold-out show at 9:30 Club Friday. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user angela n.

Thursday, August 16

Britain’s Bonobo is the type of deejay who makes otherworldy music you sway to, not the kind that makes your whole head shake as you’re forced to dance like a lunatic. Perfect for a Thursday night.

9 PM at U Street Music Hall, $12.

South Africa’s Die Antwoord make a silly mashup of hip-hop and dance music. It seems to be working—“Enter the Ninja” went viral online and is a club standard at this point. Their 9:30 Club show is sold out, maybe due to nonsensical songs like “I Fink U Freeky” and “Fatty Boom Boom.”

7 PM at 9:30 Club, sold out.

Friday, August 17

Sure, Barry Manilow has been a musical punching bag for years (as in, why do you like Barry Manilow?). But Manilow and his hair have endured, buoyed by heavy airplay on the adult contemporary radio stations you probably instantly skip over.

8 PM at Wolf Trap, $35 to $95.

After years of warnings from the likes of Pitchfork and other hip blogs I don’t read, Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors have finally graduated from “Watch out, these guys will be stars” to “Oh, both of their shows are sold out” status. Live, their indie-rock transforms from interesting to explosive—with no fewer than six people onstage playing their New-Wave-but-more-laid-back-and-hipster-er songs.

8 PM at 9:30 Club, sold out.

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Posted at 03:45 PM/ET, 08/16/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The founder of Shepherdstown’s Contemporary American Theater Festival discusses the slate for this year’s event. By Sophie Gilbert

Ed Herendeen. Photography courtesy of CATF.

Since Ed Herendeen founded the Contemporary American Theater Festival at West Virginia’s Shepherd University in 1991, the festival has staged 90 new plays by 65 different playwrights, including David Mamet, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil LaBute, Sam Shepard, Jason Grote, and Beau Willimon. This year’s festival, situated about 90 minutes outside of Washington, runs July 6 through 29 with five new plays in rotating repertory. We talked to Herendeen about what makes a new work catch his eye.

Tell us about this year’s festival.

We’re thrilled to have Neil LaBute’s new play, In a Forest Dark and Deep. It’s a terrific psychological thriller, and the structure and craftsmanship play like gangbusters. That’s in repertory with Evan M. Wiener’s new play, Captors, a haunting work about the early days of the Mossad: Israeli agents in Buenos Aires in the 1960s capture the architect of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, and spend ten days in a safe house with him. In our Studio Theater we have a world premiere, Barcelona by Bess Wohl, about a young American tourist celebrating a bachelorette party who meets a tall, dark, handsome Spaniard, only to have things take a dangerous turn. It’s in repertory with The Exceptionals by Bob Clyman, a play set in a high-end fertility clinic in the very near future. And in our new space, the Center for Contemporary Arts, we have another world premiere of an important new play, Gidion’s Knot, which is set in a fifth-grade classroom and explores how we deal with gifted kids and who’s responsible when things go wrong.

That’s quite a lineup.

It’s another year of what we do well. We’re dedicated to new American theater, and that means everything from commissioning new works to world premieres to breathing life into a second production, because often it’s harder for a writer to have a second production than it is to have a premiere. These are five terrific writers who have their ears to the ground and who are telling very present stories about the world we live in.

What do you look for in a play?

I look for plays that are relevant. Plays that are present. I look for work that’s about the now, and the world we live in. Most important, I look for good stories. Somebody once said the four most important words in the English language are “Tell me a story.” Stories told onstage have the ability to make us think, provoke us, stimulate us, make us question our world, and get to know ourselves better.

What were your hopes for the festival 22 years ago?

When I came down to start this festival, I hoped a couple of key principles would always guide us. One was that we’d always be true to the mission and do new American theater, telling diverse stories. The other was that outside of the urban spotlight, in this idyllic setting, we’d create an artistic home where we could take the fear out of failure and really take risks.

What do you think makes the festival so unique?

Being so close to Washington, we’ve developed an educated audience with adventurous taste—an audience expecting to have a profound conversation with living work. We’re in proximity to one of largest metropolitan areas in the United States, yet we’re in this historic village. Shepherdstown is one of the oldest towns in West Virginia, where we present the newest plays in America.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival runs July 6 through 29 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Single tickets ($55) and five-show passes ($230) are available on the festival’s website.

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:35 AM/ET, 07/05/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Learn flamenco, celebrate Texas independence with cheap beer, indulge your chocoholic side, and lots more on tap for this weekend. By Jason Koebler

Airborne DC will perform with Zip Zap Circus USA at the Atlas Performing Arts Center Friday. Photograph courtesy of the Airborne DC website.

Thursday, March 1

THEATER: If you love plays but lose track of whether Mercutio is a Montague 40 minutes in, check out the Best of the Source Festival—the four best ten-minute plays from the past four years for ten bucks. The plays, being performed at Atlas Performing Arts Center, tend to be offbeat, action-packed, and easy to follow. 7:30 PM. Can't make it tonight? Catch the show tomorrow at 10 PM.

DANCE: You can shake it with the best of them to “Party Rock Anthem,” but are you down with the hand claps and heel tapping of flamenco? Learn as part of DC’s Flamenco Festival 2012 at GW’s Lisner Auditorium. Beginner class starts at 7 PM; if you have some experience, check out the 9 PM class. Tickets ($10) are available through Ticketmaster or at the Lisner box office. 7 to 10 PM.

FILM: If even after the Oscars, you can’t get enough film, check out the DC Independent Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at the US Navy Heritage Center. Tonight at 6:45, talk about film with Les Blank, a documentary filmmaker who recently won the International Documentary Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. (Tickets are $14 online or at the door.) Otherwise, wait till 9:30 for the premiere of A Swingin’ Trio, about a really awkward Valentine’s Day dinner shared by a husband, wife, and, potentially, the wife’s lover. Tickets for this show are $10, available here.

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Posted at 10:34 AM/ET, 03/01/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Laissez les bon temps rouler at one of these Fat Tuesday events. By Laura Wainman

Photograph by Flickr user tibbygirl.

Mardi Gras is tomorrow, and if a trip to the Crescent City isn’t in the cards this year, satisfy your N’awlins cravings with a bayou-themed party or parade right here in Washington. And don’t forget to nibble on a king cake or a po’ boy while you’re at it.

Join the Louisiana Network as it brings Bourbon Street flavor to Club Liv on February 21. Come ready for a night of authentic food, drinks, dancing, beads, and more. Dress your best for the parade and costume contest. Grab tickets for $10 in advance (available here) or $20 at the door, which open at 6:30.

Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern is hosting its 15th annual Mardi Gras celebration through February 21. Celebrate in style with Cajun food, music, and brew, and on Fat Tuesday, gamble the night away (for charity’s sake). Try your hand at poker, craps, and blackjack, or show your skills on the dance floor. Enjoy special menu features all week long, such as Cajun popcorn, oyster po’ boys, and crawfish jambalaya.

March to the beat of the Batala Washington drummers during the 15th annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras parade on February 21. Festivities start at 8 PM; the parade route stretches along Wilson Boulevard from North Veitch Street to North Irving Street, and typically ends with a raucous gathering at a local bar.

Rage Cajun-style at Rumors’ 11th annual Bourbon Street Bash on February 21. Get the party started early with drink specials from 4 PM to close, including $5 Bacardi Hurricanes and $3 Blue Moons. Pair your libations with authentic New Orleans food, such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, and gumbo. Proudly display your eating prowess during the hot-wing-eating contest, and jam out to a live performance by Lethal Peanut. Cover is $5 at the door.

Rock out to the Junkyard Saints at Strathmore on February 24. The seven-piece band, performing at 9 PM, will give an ode to New Orleans with their eclectic sound, including zydeco, ska, swing, Latin, blues, funk, and R&B. Tickets are $10 in advance (buy here) or $12 at the door, which opens at 8 PM.

Roll along the mighty Mississippi at the United Way of Calvert County’s annual Mardi Gras bash on March 10. During the Mardi Gras on the Riverboat extravaganza, you can feast on a Cajun banquet, enter a raffle to win sparkling jewelry, participate in live and silent auctions, crown the king and queen of Mardi Gras, and dance the night away to music from Prime Time. Festivities are held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center and Marina in Solomons, Maryland, and start at 7 PM. Tickets are $135 and can be bought here.

Sip on a hurricane, munch on Creole specials, and watch the parade from Whitlow’s on Wilson for a Fat Tuesday celebration. Enjoy music from Matt Waller Trio after the parade around 9:30 PM.

Let the good times roll at Grillfish for an all-day bash on February 21. Snag free beads, guzzle half-price Hurricanes during happy hour, chill out to zydeco music, and find the baby in the king cake to be crowned king or queen of Mardi Gras.

Enjoy a day of family fun with arts and crafts workshops at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum on February 25. All attendees will be judged on their costumes, so dress to impress. The festive mood will be set with zydeco music, storytelling, prizes, and an adornment workshop. Free.

Soak up the Big Easy vibe all week long at the Mardi Gras headquarters Bayou. Experience the Bourbon Street atmosphere with live music, N’awlins-inspired cooking, hand-crafted Southern cocktails, and dancing. Stop in during happy hour every Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 and snack on $2 po’ boy sliders.

For a sophisticated Mardi Gras experience, stop by Central Michael Richard’s fifth annual Mardi Gras celebration. From 5 to 10:30 on February 21, enjoy live music from the Dixieland jazz quartet Laissez Foure, culinary dishes from New Orleans, custom cocktails, and complimentary festive beads.

Posted at 09:59 AM/ET, 02/20/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
You can go to dinner and a movie any night. Why not woo with something more off the beaten path? By Erin Williams

Give her a rock that won’t fit on her finger with a trip to jaw-dropping Luray Caverns. Photograph by Flickr user david_jones.

You can spend any day of the year having dinner and a movie, but it’s the creative ideas that can make this Valentine’s Day one to remember. We rounded up some of our favorite spots to visit to commemorate this February 14.


Walk With the Animals

Take a walk on the wild side on February 11, when the National Zoo hosts its fourth annual “Woo at the Zoo,” which gives visitors the opportunity to educate themselves on the way animals court and cavort, in addition to enjoying refreshments, a cash bar, and the chance to decorate a dessert for that special someone. The discussions will be held in the Visitor Center at 4:30, 6:30, and 8:30 PM. Tickets ($11 for members, $22 for nonmembers) must be obtained for one discussion. Buy in person or online.

3001 Connecticut Ave., NW. Call 202-633-3040 for more information.

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Posted at 04:49 PM/ET, 02/08/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
“Necessary Sacrifices” at Ford’s Theatre, Adam Arcuragi at the Iota Club, and the Washington DC Comedy Writers Showcase at the Riot Act. By Samantha Miller

David Selby and Craig Wallace star in Necessary Sacrifices. Photograph by T. Charles Erickson.

Tuesday, February 7

THEATER: If you haven’t already, head to Ford’s Theatre for a showing of Necessary Sacrifices. Richard Hellesen’s drama chronicles two documented meetings between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. “The spirited conversations in which they engage evoke a fly-on-the-wall quality, giving the audience the sense of truly eavesdropping on history as it’s being made,” says arts writer Jane Horwitz. Read the full review here. Tickets ($25 to $50) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 7:30 PM. The play runs through February 18.

MUSIC: Self-proclaimed “death gospel” singer Adam Arcuragi and the Lupine Chorale Society are dropping by the Iota Club and Cafe. “With his poetic preaching and rousing choruses, Arcuragi crafts songs of community, with music that binds,” says NPR. Arcuragi will be joined by Jukebox Serenade. Tickets ($12) can be purchased at the door. 8:30 PM.

The Levine School of Music’s Virginia Big Band give a free performance at the Kennedy Center. The jazz ensemble have performed at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival and Taste of Arlington. 6 PM.

COMEDY: The Washington DC Comedy Writers Group presents a comedy showcase at the Riot Act. The performance will feature a fake psychic reading, standup acts from local comedians, a series of short films, improv, and more. Tickets ($10) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 8:30 PM.

Posted at 04:32 PM/ET, 02/06/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()