Jenga Makes the Bar Scene

By Lavanya ramanathan
Friday, November 9, 2007

The protocol for spawning a Young Urban Scenester Phenomenon is fairly uncomplicated: Reach back to your childhood, find something you hated, and resurrect. (Sweatbands? Awesome.) Pack it with irony, and maybe even add a DJ. (Bad music? On purpose? Yes, please.)

And if you're fresh out of ideas, you could always just pick a game -- any game at all -- set it in a bar, and just wait for word to get around.

That is how spelling bees and Ping-Pong and Quizzo have managed to attract crowds looking for something besides peanuts to go with their beer. And in this vein comes Jenga, which recently kicked off Wednesdays at the Rock & Roll Hotel's upstairs bar. Jenga, of course, is that classic '80s game in which players aim to pluck pieces from a tower of wooden blocks without toppling the stack.

But this Jenga, the brainchild of managing partner Fritz Wood, is for adults (it's 21 and older only, and depending on how you play it, could involve taking a sip or two). Nevertheless, it incorporates many of the original rules, including the dreaded "one-handed play." Four sets are available so you can play with your friends.

Free (and if you play, PBRs are $2). Every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. 1353 H St. NE. 202-388-7625.

Also in our throwbacks drawer:

DJ Dredd returns to the Black Cat Sunday to spin his regular "versus" dance party, this time themed Prince vs. Michael Jackson vs. Rick James. Just because you're Purple doesn't mean you can't be a Superfreak. $12. 9 p.m. Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. 202-667-7960.

Save the Date

THE HOLIDAYS Even the Zoo Gets Into the Season For the first time, Friends of the National Zoo is hosting its very own animal-themed light displays for the holidays, dubbed ZooLights. And in a nod to the environment, the large-scale displays, which will run for nearly a month beginning Nov. 28, will actually use LED lights rather than bulbs to conserve energy. Each night will also offer different opportunities, including marshmallow roasting, cold-weather treats, ice sculptors and choral groups. Admission will be ticketed; some nights will no doubt sell out, so buy in advance. $10; children younger than 2, free. (FONZ members are $6; $20 for four.) 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays--Sundays, Nov. 28--Dec. 30. 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets through Ticketmaster (202-397-7328) or save fees at the Zoo's Visitor Center (open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 202-633-4888.). For schedule, visit

THE SCENE That First Taste of Beaujolais Next week, make a date of the latest tastings at the French Embassy's La Maison Francaise. The French American Chamber of Commerce hosts a wine bash celebrating seven 2007 Beaujolais varieties from the Gamay region of France -- on the very first day that the year's Beaujolais can officially be served, according to French custom. The fest is complete with cuisine from the chefs of well-known area restaurants (the menu, heavy on the mushrooms, includes lobster corn dogs, chicken in hard cider sauce, gnocchi and porcini bisque with creme fraiche). Business attire is required. $69; $59 for chamber members. Thursday 7-10 p.m. 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW. Register online at or call 703-560-6330.

ON STAGE Three Dance Troupes, One Big Show The Washington Performing Arts Society and Dance Place are bringing together Step Afrika!, Washington Reflections Dance Company and Coyaba Dance Theater for a showcase of all three, whose missions range from step dancing to West African movement. The show, titled "Winter Heat," kicks off late this month. $30; children, $15 (for the Dec. 1 "family matinee," a ticket for ages 12 and younger is free with the purchase of an adult ticket). 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1; family matinee, 3 p.m. Harman Center for the Arts, Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. 202-547-1122.

The District


LITERATURE Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel and Chris Ware: On the Graphic Novel These stalwarts of the underground comics scene can also call themselves graphic novelists: Bechdel gained attention for her sketchbook of a memoir, "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic"; Chris Ware is renowned for "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth." And Barry? Well, in addition to being an alternative-weekly perennial, she has a slew of novels to her name. Tonight, in a talk sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library (but held at the DCJCC), all three will read from their works and examine the long-form phenomenon. $15. 8 p.m. DCJCC, 1529 16th St. NW. 202-544-7077.

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