I rather enjoyed the stories at Speakeasy DC on Tuesday night - about ten people telling true stories on stage at Town Danceboutique, on the chosen theme of 'the cat's out of the bag'. The theme made for some entertaining revelations, and the performers featured some Perfect Liars Club favorites. Plus, there was a cake sale. Those of you who read this blog know how very partial I am to a free cake buffet... this one was not free, but I can confirm that the best thing about Speakeasy's fundraising season is their cake stall. Special mention goes to their homemade chocolate moustaches on a stick for $1. Hipster deliciousness. Their next regular Tuesday show, on May 13th, is about 'close calls'.
A couple of nights later we were foiled in our plans to go to Dr Who-themed burlesque (this was probably for the best - though disconcertingly we were foiled as it was sold out) and instead found ourselves at the Art Soiree weekly art party at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown. Art Soiree is one of my greatest DC disappointments. In a city that is becoming ever more hip and quirky and cool, Art Soiree has been busy doing the very opposite. About a year ago, Art Soiree was one of the coolest things I could find to do in DC. They had fabulous parties in edgy, converted/industrial type venues. They featured live art with people's bodies as the canvas. They had hula hoopers. Projections of black and white film and various cool arty, participatory stuff. Cocktails. And half the hipsters in the city flocked. In the intervening year, I have eyed their listings and new venues with growing trepidation. And on Friday, my fears were confirmed. All credit to them for running such regular art events. But alas: Art Soiree has gone staid. Its average patron appears to have evolved from the arty hipster to the well-to-do, plastic-surgeried, nouveau riche lady who lunches. This is a fascinating transformation in just a year. But not one that makes me personally want to return to an Art Soiree event in the near future.
Politics and Prose, meanwhile, outdid themselves this week, with two free events I wanted to attend in one day! Luckily that day was a sunny Saturday, so my lovely wife and I hiked the Glover Archbold trail which was just as lovely as ever (despite our preoccupation with trying to urgently come up for marketing blurb for Perfect Liars Club at the Capital Fringe along the route). Though in retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have encouraged my lovely wife to do this hike at all, given her still-pneumonia state... And in particular, I shouldn't have encouraged her to do it a mere two hours after her bare feet were shivering in the Potomac.
And thus I will digress to say hooray: the Key Bridge boathouse is open for a season of kayaking and paddle boarding around the Potomac. As it's a 10 minute walk from my house, I couldn't be more delighted. I spent the winter gazing resentfully at the frozen water and dreaming of the season pass I would buy for a whole lovely summer on the river. Finally the great moment is here. If you haven't been paddling on the Potomac, I can say (1) it's incredibly easy - just turn up and pay $15 for a kayak, $20 for a double kayak or $20 for a paddleboard and 2 minutes later you're paddling off for an hour of pottering around the river. Your main choice is whether to turn left and paddle towards Lincoln Memorial (you can go all the way around Roosevelt Island and back in an hour with cool views of the monuments), or whether you turn right and paddle into a pretty countryside scene, the leafy serenity only disturbed by passing helicopters. We hopped on paddleboards, chose to turn right, and were enjoying the beautiful scenery and quiet loveliness til my lovely wife started wheezing, I looked down at her feet immersed in still-chilly Potomac water, and realized I probably wasn't a very good wife... So we retreated for some superlative Baked and Wired cupcakes in the sun, perched on the side of the canal (Baked and Wired may have glorious cupcakes but they also have abysmal seating design so you can rarely get a sensible seat inside). We looked around and realised it's suddenly summer!
But back to Politics and Prose. At 3:30 on Saturday they had a rather cool launch of a travel writing anthology, featuring readings by several of the contributing authors. The place was packed too! We got there a little late (having had to put my wheezing wife in a taxi for the last mile) and had to sit on the floor, but having acquired ourselves a beer and some chips, were more than happy to be squeezed into this really enjoyable event. When it finished, with an hour and a half til the next cool-sounding event, we popped into the Little Red Fox for delicious juice and banana cake. In the previous spot of Marvelous Market, Little Red Fox is the hip, high quality, cool ambience deli that makes you a bit jealous of people who get to call it their local. All the cheerier as we ran into friends who actually do live round the corner from it! But soon it was back to Politics and Prose for a rather unexpectedly brilliant event, Ask Roulette. It's a podcast so you can listen to it. Essentially they have members of the audience ask other members of the audience questions ranging from 'what's your greatest fear?' to 'if you were to tame a dinosaur, which type would you choose and why?'. The genius of the show is really the two guys who run it, who were hilarious - and I found myself on stage at one point, which was also fun. Look out for this - if it comes to DC again, it's definitely worth checking out!
It's also sort of worth checking out Mission, Dupont Circle's newest Mexican taco restaurant. A great location, and it looks and feels cool. The service is not yet competent - it took us half an hour to get a drink and an hour to get our food... but they are friendly and nice, seem to mean very well and they are still very new, so let's be indulgent. The food itself, in my opinion, won't change your life. But it is hearty, well executed, and fairly priced - in an area where it can be oddly tricky to find somewhere good to eat. I really liked the ambience, a sort of more relaxed 14th Street. I'd probably not rush back, but I'd be happy to return.
Finally, this is just about your last chance to dash down and see the cherry blossoms. I failed to do it for the last two years, but this year, my lovely wife and I set out at 7:15am on Friday morning, and cycled down to the Tidal Basin for a pre-work cherry blossom extravaganza. I didn't really get what all the cherry blossom fuss is about. But now I do. They are a dreamy delight, transforming the Tidal Basin area into big pink clouds, and the paths of the Tidal Basin into a teeming mass of cherry blossom viewers. My favorites were groups of Japanese people who appeared to have set up special shrines or something like that. And all the newly engaged couples having their photos taken. We happened past again on Sunday, en route to a Haines Point cycle, and while the traffic was revolting, the cherry blossoms all around Haines Point were delightful.
It was intriguing that despite the throngs of cherry blossom viewers crowding Haines Point, and the merry golfers lining up for a slot on the East Potomac Golf Course, their minigolf course was pretty empty this weekend. I am a sucker for minigolf and have dreamed of playing here for years - but inexplicably never have. We acquired beer from the club house, paid our $7 entry fee, and within moments, proceeded to have a quite excellent time on this basic but satisfying minigolf odyssey with views across the Potomac. The holes aren't very fancy. In fact, it's been described as a bit brutalist. Perhaps. But it's a bargain, it's neat and clean, and I think it makes a fab day out, especially when accompanied by a cycle. And later in the season, perhaps a swim too, in the adjacent free Olympic-sized pool!
What sounds cool for next week
On Wednesday you're spoilt for choice: Corcoran's Uncorked late night event, which is about what's new, up-and-coming and innovative this week. While sipping 'innovative' cocktails of course. Or Story League's monthly competition for funniest story at Busboys and Poets. Story League isn't til 9, so technically you could do both... I'll definitely be at least at Story League as they've invited me to be a judge!
From Thursday, head over to Atlas on H Street for the opening of a really intriguing-sounding show, Jarman (All This Maddening Beauty). Video, live performance, and general coolness. I don't really understand what this is about but it sounds potentially brilliant. It's on April 17-27th. I'm excited!
FilmFest DC opens on Thursday. This international film festival is one of my favorites in DC. My lovely wife and I went to loads of films last year, and have bought our discount package for a similar extravaganza this year. Films I'm excited about this week:
- The Grand Seduction (opening night)
- King Ordinary
- The Great Passage
- Harmony Lessons
- A Five Star Life
- Half of a Yellow Sun
If you're more about theatre than film, it's also Theatre Week in DC with great discounts to many of the fab shows currently on in DC. Particularly tempting to me are Camp David at Arena Stage, and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Ford's Theatre - both have 20% discounts. If only I didn't have so many Filmfest DC tickets already...
And if you're in the mood for some free improv, Appletini's on Monday at Larry's Lounge at 8. You'll remember I think this is one of DC's best improv nights.