The friendly folks at Kramerbooks' Afterwords Cafe' threw their third annual block party yesterday, turning downtown's usually citified Dupont Circle into a rowdy Texas roadhouse.
The tangy scent of barbecue and twangy sounds of pedal steel guitar cut through the hazy, lazy August afternoon, attracting several hundred people, a mix of tourists and townies, to a street blocked off with clusters of pink, yellow and purple balloons.
Many in the crowd be-bopped, jiggled and shook their stuff shamelessly, lured from the summer doldrums by the rollicking beat of Baltimore's Whiskey River Band, which played a mix of country classics and raucous southern rock. One man, in a yellow plaid shirt and a "Keep It Clean" button, amused the crowd with a manic two-step, clutching a quart bottle of beer in a brown paper bag.
"We're just city hillbillies," said Lorraine McDermott of Glen Burnie, who drove into town with her daughter Michelle, 18, for an afternoon of their favorite music, Texas swing. "Except they don't call it hillbilly music anymore--it's country now."
"It's just like being at a county fair," agreed Michelle, who bobbed on the sidelines with her mother before jumping out to do a solo reel in front of the band.
Those who weren't stomping or swinging lined up for barbecued beef and chicken, washed down with beer or sangri'a, sold by Afterwords Cafe.
"Summer in this city stinks," said Nancy Linton, "so it's lots of fun to have a party like this to make you forget the heat." Linton and her husband Ron, Dupont Circle residents, sat on chairs in the street, sipping sangria and watching the scene. "I think we'll leave the dancing to the younger ones," Ron Linton said.
Lucy Burton and Michael Marstaller, two of the more energetic dancers, came from Silver Spring to swing in the streets. "Actually, she roped me into it," whooped Marstaller, swinging an imaginary lasso around his head. "We did things like this back home every weekend," said Burton, who is transplanted from Texas. As she launched into a barefoot demonstration of an authentic Texas two-step, Burton lamented, "I just wish they'd throw some sawdust down on this street."