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High Heel Race

There may be no greater spectacle in Washington.

Photograph by Terrance James Doyle Jr.

Why you might roll your eyes:

It’s 2015. Same-sex marriage is legal in DC. Aren’t drag queens a throwback to the age before equality?

Why you’ll love it:

There may be no greater spectacle in Washington than watching drag queens hoof it in heels several inches high. The race itself—the Tuesday before Halloween—lasts just a few minutes. The real show is beforehand, when the 150 participants strut their stuff along 17th Street.

It’s not all falsies and over-the-top wigs—last fall’s costumes included the scary twins from The Shining, singing nuns à la Sister Act, and a fabulous impersonation of Michelle Obama with a Secret Service detail. Sure it’s campy, but like the St. Patrick’s Day parades in towns that used to have lots of Irish immigrants, it’s become a celebration of progress: Now in its 29th year, the good-natured race attracts DC’s politicians—including the mayor, who serves as grand marshal. For an unobstructed view, consider volunteering: You simply stand at the edge and keep spectators off the race course.

For more, go to Facebook and search for “17th Street High Heel Race.”

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