But of course, with my parents here on their semi-annual visit from Spain, I have been under extra pressure to deliver a delightful experience of all that is good about life in Washington. On Friday night we walked down, past the frozen Potomac, to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - the little stage in the foyer of the Kennedy Center that has free performances every night at 6pm. I sheepishly admit I hadn't been there since my parents' last visit, but they demanded a repeat experience, so I set off with them to a potentially promising show that I knew very little about but that was convenient to our schedule: the 20th Anniversary celebration of the It's Your Mug poetry night. I had no idea whether it would be brilliant or... less brilliant. When I arrived, I realized that I was quite alone in not really knowing what it was - the place was crammed full of old-time Washingtonians who used to go to this U Street area coffee shop institution every week for their fix of fantastic poetry slams and performances. The It's Your Mug veterans onstage described a spoken word utopian Washington of yesteryear where the U Street area was full of coffeeshops with exceptionally popular poetry nights happening several times a week, a hundred people crammed into the little spaces to hear and perform their poetry. It sounded very cool, and so were their performances at the show. They didn't just stand up and recite poetry - they wrote it, they exuberantly performed it, the musicians provided backing beats, and it was an hour of compelling inspiration and brilliance. On the way home I took all the praise from my parents about my excellent taste in choosing events, and felt very pleased with taking a random chance on this talented, transfixing bunch of people. I wish these coffee shop poetry nights would rise again!
I took my parents to Gypsy Sally's later that night (exhausting them I fear) and while the particular music wasn't to my taste, I really love this venue. If you haven't been yet, Gypsy Sally's is a relatively new live music venue, right next to Malmaison on an otherwise fairly deserted stretch of the Georgetown waterfront, under Key Bridge. They have all sorts of country, blues, Americana type acts every night, and it's a really lovely, relaxed, unpretentious, atmospheric place to hang out, with table service, drinks, food, and people dancing down at the front of the stage. Recommended if you like that sort of thing! (and on an aside, Malmaison is doing a lovely cafe-style situation during the day currently with coffees, fresh fruit juice smoothies, and fantastic pastries - delicious).
My dear parents, having survived their multi-part Friday night, were awoken bright and early on Saturday morning for the treat of sitting in a draughty 9:30 Club, the lucky spectators of the dress rehearsal for Speakeasy DC's Sucker for Love Valentine's show, at which I'm telling the story of how my lovely wife and I got together - along with more stories about love from Perfect Liars alumni Pierce and Cara. (Tickets are still available.) They were rewarded by seeing Gravity with all the IMAX and 3D trimmings (definitely worth splashing out for!) and a tasty Thai meal in Bangkok Joes.
Sunday daytime was a bit of a write-off, thanks to the bottomless champagne at the Bombay Club's excellent brunch, but that evening we were excited to get to see the Upright Citizens Brigade, a renowned comedy improv group from New York and LA, who took over the basement of Sixth and I (where many good things happen) and made us laugh vigorously. I'm going to be bold and say that of the genre of visiting-acclaimed-performing-comedy-improv-groups, I prefer Second City, if the two are comparable, which I think they are, except that Second City is partly scripted and partly improv, while UCB is all improv. On Sunday this worked very well in the first act sketches - as for the second act, I always think it's risky to commit to a whole 40 minute sketch on one premise... but the UCB guys are very talented and absolutely worth getting a ticket when they're in town.
We polished off the week with a tasty dose of Perfect Liars Club - another really fun evening last night, and you can read all about it and admire the pictures here. Make sure you get your tickets for next month!
What's coming up in the next week
I wouldn't know - I'm taking my parents to Las Vegas. Wish me luck!
But if I was here, I'd be particularly interested in the Folger Library's Whose Life is it Anyway? Literary Biography event tonight, Tuesday 4th February, the Create at the Corcoran event on Wednesday 5th, the Nordic lights-themed Phillips After 5 event on Thursday 6th, and the free Capital One comedy night at the Kennedy Centre on Monday 10th. Enjoy!