"Forty Years of Pride" is the theme of this year's Capital Pride celebration, which means plenty of DJs spinning retro tunes at clubs, and appearances by Wilson Phillips and En Vogue at Sunday's big Capital Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue. But there's much more than looking back on the Capital Pride nightlife calendar: karaoke competitions, quiz nights, museum parties and club takeovers.
SmartAss Trivia, held every Wednesday at Nellie's, has a special Pride theme for this week's edition. Expect the games to start at 8 and 9 p.m.
A 50-gallon pool of jello is the centerpiece of Wednesday's Capital Pride Jello Wrestling festivities at Penn Social, where the annual ladies-only competition is open to all comers -- "bring a towel and a change of clothes," the organizers advise -- or just watch with a drink. There's a $10 cover. Doors open at 9, and the wrestling starts at 10.
Arts and history
The Freer and Sackler Galleries are hosting a special Pride edition of Asia After Dark on Saturday. Peacockalypse focuses on New York artist Darren Waterston's "Filthy Lucre," an instillation remixing the Freer's iconic Peacock Room, with interactive tours of both exhibits. But this late-night event includes much more: Live music by BETTY, seen on "The L Word"; a chance to make peacock masks and accessories; interactive games; specialty cocktails from Ping Pong Dim Sum; and DJ EvanEssence in the museum courtyard. The party runs from 8 to midnight. Admission is $25 in advance or $35 at the door; for an extra $20, a VIP ticket includes an open bar and a meet-and-greet with the band.
The preservation of historic LGBTQ sites is an important and growing topic. The National Park Service has launched its own LGBTQ Heritage Initiative, which included listing D.C.'s Dr. Franklin E. Kameny Residence on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about the LGBTQ Heritage Initiative at a Pride in Preservation reception at the historic Heurich House in Dupont Circle, which includes Green Hat gin cocktails, snacks from Union Kitchen Catering, and tours of the Victorian mansion. All-inclusive tickets are $35.
It's going to be hot this week, and you'll need to cool off. On Thursday night, the Rooftop Rally takes over the rooftop pool at the recently renovated Embassy Row Hotel. The $20 ticket includes two drinks, light appetizers and the chance to take a dip between 7 and 10 p.m.
Rather go to a free event? The Supergay Saturday party at the Embassy Row Hotel runs from noon to 7 p.m. Tunes are courtesy of DJs Outputmessage, Tommy Cornelius and Illexxandra, and amenities include that rooftop pool and drink specials. There's no cover charge or dress code.
On the face of it, Pride can seem overwhelmingly white and male. (That's part of the reason Black Pride spun off for its own Memorial Day weekend celebration in 1991.) But there are other groups celebrating this week, too.
The Nice Jewish Boys, Nice Jewish Girls and Gayyim DC are among the groups taking over Duke's Grocery from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday night for the DC Jewish Pride Happy Hour, with free appetizers and drink specials.
DJ IZ, the creator of New York City's long-running Habibi Middle Eastern dance parties, is coming down to D.C. for a special Pride Week Habibi at the upstairs video lounge at Number Nine. He'll spin music and play visuals from 9 p.m. onward. Arrive early for Number Nine's famous two-for-one happy hour, which runs from 5 to 9.
The Thursday before Pride weekend is traditionally Latino Pride at Town. La Fiesta features "RuPaul's Drag Race" veteran April Carrion, a native of Puerto Rico, and DJ Joe Especialista of El Zol radio.
There are some big prizes up for grabs at two karaoke contests this week: The winner of Cobalt's Wednesday night Karaoke Pride Idol Competition will perform at Sunday's Capital Pride Street Festival. The music starts at 10 p.m. and there are $4 Stoli drinks. On Thursday, Phase 1 Idol will crown a champion that will win a space on Phase's Capital Pride Parade float on Saturday. Entry is free, and the contest starts at 8:30 p.m.
The two biggest events of Pride are Saturday's parade and Sunday's street festival. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. at 22nd and P streets NW and travels through Dupont and Logan circles before ending at 14th and S around 7:30 p.m. (There's a full map of the route on the Capital Pride site.) The route takes the parade past many gay nightspots, which will open early for day parties and kick into gear once the parade passes. Iconic 17th Street bars Cobalt and JR's both open at 1 p.m. JR's is hosting a fundraiser for the DC Center, with guest bartenders from Stonewall Kickball. There's a $5 cover, and it's cash-only. Cobalt offers $3 Stoli drinks all day, and DJs get the Saturday Night Dance Party underway as soon as the end of the parade leaves 17th Street. DJ MF3 (Berlin) and DJ Mikey Mo (New York City) headline. Admission is $10. Town opens the doors to its patio at noon for a free happy hour. Another party worth noting: The rooftop Supergay Saturday at Embassy Row Hotel (see Pool Parties, above).
The Street Festival
Pennsylvania Avenue NW is closed between Third and Seventh streets on Sunday to make way for huge crowds, exhibitors, beer gardens, food courts, DJs and a stream of performers: karaoke singers, the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, dance troupes, cabaret acts and drag queens. The highlight is the Pride Concert, sponsored by Hot 99.5, with En Vogue, Wilson Phillips and Carly Rae Jepsen. Admission is free, but $25 "Pit Passes" allow closer access to the concert stage at the U.S. Capitol end of the street.
Thursday events and dance parties
In addition to several events mentioned above, such as La Fiesta and the Rooftop Rally, options include Uncivil Union: Comedy for Equality, with Rachel Dratch and W. Kamau Bell at the Howard Theatre, and the DC Gurly Show's mix of burlesque and comedy at the Pinch.
Friday events and dance parties
Pride Weekend officially gets underway with the Flashback Opening Party at Arena Stage. Cohosted by Brightest Young Things, it features five DJs, including Matt Bailer and Shea Van Horn (Mixtape) and Ca$$idy (Garutachi) each spinning hits from a designated eight-year period. Also on the bill: "American Idol" favorite Frenchie Davis, "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant Adore Delano, performance artist Pu$$y Noir, and the Team Peaches dance troupe.
There's more retro music over at JR's, where Jason Royce, formerly the host of Cobalt's weekly Flashback party, drops his favorite '70s, '80s and '90s tracks while bartenders serve $3 drafts and $4 Skyy drinks from 10 p.m. to midnight.
The Black Cat is all-in for Pride, with two nights of events taking over both floors of the club. Booty Rex finds the DJs from the Cat's Anthology of Booty party upstairs, including Natty Boom and rAt, while June Bullet and the She Rex DJ team are downstairs. Admission is $10, and doors open at 9:30.
The CTRL DJs, whose monthly slot at Cobalt is one of the best alternative indie-dance/electro-pop nights in town, are playing '70s tunes at the Green Lantern's Otter Crossing party, with live performances by singer Shayna Blass.
DJ Lez Rage and DJ Deedub spin at Comet Ping-Pong for the Women's Pride Kick-Off After Party, an 18-and-over event with $2.50 PBRs all night for those 21 and older. The music runs from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Saturday events and dance parties
This is the busiest night of events of the week. In addition to the pre- and post-parade parties mentioned above, and the Peacockalypse event at the Freer and Sackler galleries, there are dance parties all over the city. (When's the last time you remember the 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Howard Theatre and U Street Music Hall all hosting LGBTQ events on the same night?) A few quick highlights:
"RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 7 winner Violet Chachki and runner-up Ginger Minj perform in the drag show at Town, followed by dancing until 4 a.m. with DJ Drew G. Admission for the drag show and dance party is $40; the dance party only is $20. Advance tickets are strongly suggested due to lines.
Babe Rainbow at the Black Cat features Keenan Orr, Dean Sullivan and the Bodywork DJs spinning on both floors of the club, with $2 from every $12 ticket benefiting the DC Center.
U Street Music Hall flashes back to the early days of house at Paradise Mirage, a tribute to New York's legendary Paradise Garage. DJ Kim Ann Foxman, known for singing with Hercules and Love Affair, spins underground house and electronic music alongside Lisa Frank, the TNX DJs and Butch Queen. Admission is free before 11 p.m. and $10 after.
F.U.S.E., the official Women's Party, is at the Howard Theatre with DJ Rosie, DJ Jacq Jill and the DystRucXion Dancers. Admission is $15, and all proceeds benefit Capital Pride.
Shea van Horn and Matt Bailer bring their traveling pop/indie/remixes/'80s carnival Mixtape to the 9:30 Club for a late-night Pride party. (Doors open at 11 p.m., due to a sold-out Courtney Barrett show earlier in the evening.)
Green Lantern brings back its infamous/legendary JOX underwear party, with a free clothes check and $3 Bud Light and $4 Fireball shots all night. Admission is free from 9 to 10 p.m. and $5 after.
If you'd rather try a party off the beaten path, Underground Throwdown at the Dance Loft on 14 mixes '70s-through-'00s tunes with DJ Edward Daniels, a laser show and multiple bars at a Petworth dance studio. The $30 ticket includes one free drink.
Some people won't be ready to quit partying when last call comes. For them, there's Honey Soundsystem at Flash, with DJs from San Francisco's after-hours underground Honey Soundsystem party. Doors open at 3 a.m. and the $10 cover is cut in half with a stamp from the earlier Black Cat or U Street Music Hall parties.
Sunday events and dance parties
Pride comes to an end with the big day-long festival on Pennsylvania Avenue and concert (see above) and several closing parties.
The Fanny Pack Tea Dance at Penn Social advertises itself as a post-concert destination ("Just steps from the festival"), but this event for the ladies includes a show by the DC Kings at 6 p.m., and music from DJ LiLo and DJ Deedub until midnight.
The DC Gurly Show burlesque troupe winds up the week with a 9 p.m. show at Freddie's Beach Bar in Crystal City.
The Official Closing Party is at Cobalt. The 18-and-over event features DJs Madscience and Power Infiniti on two floors, with $4 Stoli cocktails. Doors open at 10 p.m. and the $5 cover benefits Capital Pride.