Things to Do

Things to Do in Washington, August 6-9

Arts, entertainment, and fun in DC, Maryland, and Virginia right now.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hello folks,

Exciting news: We’re relaunching Washingtonian’s Things to Do on Washingtonian dot com! Since March, I’ve continued writing TTD as a twice-weekly newsletter (subscribe here!) that focused on fun activities to pass the quaran-time. Now, we’re bringing it back as a regular feature on our site.

Hold up, Gatsby said what? Improv performers will take on literary classics in a Washington Improv Theater event Thursday.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

Improv: What do you think about The Great Gatsby? In Washington Improv Theater’s weekly series “Hold Up,” Black artists break down and critique major literary works. As one performer reads an excerpt, others will interrupt—“hold up!”—to add their thoughts and kick off the conversation. Today’s virtual event features Samiyyah Ali, Blue Cavill, Devin McKay, Erica Johnson, Nicole McCauley, and Clyde Thompson digging into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. Watch it on Facebook Live on Thursday 8/6 at 8 PM; Free.

Listen in: Learn more about DC’s racial history in a virtual book talk featuring Chris Myers Asch, author of Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital. After the chat, stay for a facilitated discussion with a small breakout group. Sign up here. Thursday 8/6 at 5 PM.

Story time: The Moth, a New York-based arts organization, is hosting virtual StorySLAMs around the country where people compete to tell a great story. The theme for tonight’s DC edition is enthusiasm. At the end of the night, the audience will vote for the best storyteller. Get tickets here. Thursday 8/6 at 7:15 PM; $10.

The Monuments Debate: Mitch Landrieu was into removing Confederate monuments before it was cool. As mayor of New Orleans, he yanked down statues that had been there his whole life, then wrote a very thoughtful memoir about it as he pondered a presidential run. Among the revelations: He was prodded to take action by the renowned jazz trumpeter, and fellow New Orleans native, Wynton Marsalis. The two will discuss monuments and race in America as part of the Washington Post Live series. Friday 8/7 at noon. —recommended by Washingtonian editor Michael Schaffer

A Report on the Mueller Report: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s ubiquitous legal analyst, is out with a new book on Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation of the 2016 election. Toobin’s book—excerpted in the New Yorker, where he’s a staff writer—reaches some fairly damning conclusions about the former FBI chief’s failings. Investigative reporter Carol Leonnig interviews him about the book online at Politics and Prose. Friday 8/7 at 7 pm. —recommended by Washingtonian editor Michael Schaffer

Meme city: Axios reporter Jonathan Swan’s presidential interview got a lot of attention this week—but not necessarily for its news. Swan’s puzzled and pained facial expressions have been immortalized as the hilarious 2020 meme we needed. What would you add as a caption?

Library tour: Take a look inside the newly renovated Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which will reopen (with safety precautions) in September. There will be rooftop gardens, a kids slide and, oh yeah, books! Read more here.

Get outside: Washington is surrounded by gorgeous national parks, but if you’re not too familiar with them it might be hard to decide where you want to go. Here’s a roundup of 12 great trails to hike near DC.

Discovering our city:

We recently wrote about the inspiring Washingtonian Frank Kameny in our August issue. He was a pioneering gay activist who dedicated his life to fighting for the LGBTQ+ community particularly in DC. The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America is a new book that focuses on Kameny’s life after he was fired by the federal government for his sexual orientation. According to author Eric Cervini, Kameny was behind “Washington’s first organized demonstration of homosexuals” in April 1965 when he led a picket in front of the White House.

Say it.
You can see traces of Kameny’s movement and impact around the city and you can even visit his tombstone in Congressional Cemetery that includes his slogan, “Gay is good!” After his death in 2011, he has continued to influence contemporary queer culture and history. DC couple Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown, who run the popular @lgbt_history Instagram account, credit Kameny’s tombstone unveiling as a powerful moment that motivated them to start digging into queer history and later write We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation. You might hear Kameny’s name more in the future, too: Last month FX announced a limited series called 81 Words that will focus on Kameny’s work with Barbara Gittings to challenge the medical world’s warped view of queer and trans people as mentally ill. It’s a project that will be written by Steven Canals, the queer Afro-Latinx co-creator of Pose, so I can’t wait to watch.

P.S. For queer history nerds who are craving a good adventure into the archives, the DC Public Library has a vast database of Washington Blade issues from 1969-1999 and a collection of Women in the Life, which was a local magazine by and for DC’s Black lesbian community.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.