| APRIL 2021
2020 CRITICS CHALLENGE INTERNATIONAL WINE & SPIRITS COMPETITION
GOLD MEDAL 2020 CRITICS CHALLENGE INTERNATIONAL WINE & SPIRITS COMPETITION
| SUMMER 2021 Please enjoy our wines responsibly. © 2021 Constellation Imports, Rutherford, CA USA
OUT SIGN UP FOR YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS LEAGUE TODAY!
REGISTER AT DCFRAY.COM/LEAGUES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
5 Muralist MISS CHELOVE 9 July Calendar
19 Wolfgang Puck’s Doc 22 Crazy Aunt Helen’s
31 30 Curators of Style 62 Arlington Arts Center 66 Bad Candy Art Gallery
69 73 76 90
27 Vinyl-Only Nights
Studio Outdoors Shifts in Local Fashion D.C.’s Vintage Scene Alex(andra) Undone
82 A Beginner’s Guide to Biking 86 GambetDC
88 Slay All Day Illustration
ROBERT KINSLER Publisher
MONICA ALFORD Editor-in-Chief
ANDREW J. WILLIAMS III Managing Editor
NICOLE SCHALLER Editorial Assistant
JULIA GOLDBERG Editorial Designer
Key Account Manager
Cita Sadeli. Photo by Andrew J. Williams III.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Eliza Tebo Berkon, Christina DeNatale, Allison Hageman, Trent Johnson, Colleen Kennedy, Michael Loria, Haley McKey, Celeste Noraian, Casey Pazzalia, Rina Rapuano, Amanda Weisbrod CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS + PHOTOGRAPHERS James Coreas, Eric Dolgas, Rich Kessler Photography, Jonathan Thorpe COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Jonathan Thorpe ON THE COVER Cita Sadeli // MISS CHELOVE COVER LOCATION Unity Health Care in Columbia Heights
| JULY 2021
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
CURATORS OF STYLE. On a blistering hot Sunday afternoon in June, our editorial team gathered at Unity Health Care in Columbia Heights to meet photographer Jonathan Thorpe and cover subject Cita Sadeli, known to most in the District as MISS CHELOVE. Our goal was to capture the muralist, art director, designer and illustrator in front of her mural project “You Are Welcome,” a bright and hopeful reflection of inclusivity on the side of the clinic. Sadeli is the personification of who we want to feature in the magazine. She’s so deeply ingrained in the local scene in an authentic way that transcends fleeting hip factor and makes her an icon of never-fading cool in the District. Her story is one of resilience and love; her works are meant to support our community, and her focus is on carving out space for the up-and-comers making waves right now. Our July issue features 30+ local curators of style redefining D.C. Some are new to the scene and others are stalwarts like Sadeli. Regardless of where they’re at on their trajectory, we could not be more thrilled to share their stories this month. July also marks a special milestone for our team. As of last month, we are joined by new managing editor Andrew J. Williams III and editorial assistant Nicole Schaller, two fantastic local journalists with a penchant for arts & culture in and around our city. Williams’ first print piece with the magazine is a deep dive into four local vintage shops and the creative minds behind them, and he took photos of Wolfgang Puck for Rina Rapuano’s feature on his recent visit to CUT DC and Colleen Kennedy’s piece on Chef Mykie Moll and new Capitol Hill spot Crazy Aunt Helen’s. Schaller patiently rounded up several dozen creators, makers and stylish locals to ask them about the District’s style and their own, and sat down with No Kings Collective Co-founders Brandon Hill and Peter Chang about their design work for brand-new coworking space Studio Outdoors. Amanda Weisbrod spoke with local experts about shifts in D.C. fashion post-Covid, Eliza Tebo Berkon interviewed the guest curator Cita Sadeli // MISS CHELOVE. Photo by Andrew J. Williams III.
and several artists featured in Arlington Arts Center’s latest exhibit, “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow,” and Michael Loria chatted with the founders of Metrobar and the dynamic duo behind Bad Candy Art Gallery. Plus, Haley McKey chatted with local DJs about the return of vinyl-only nights, Trent Johnson spoke with refreshingly candid model Alexandra Cunningham, Allison Hageman rounded up a beginner’s guide to biking, Casey Pazzalia took a deep dive into the world of local sports betting and E$ crafted another excellent illustration highlighting how we “Slay All Day” in the District. A special thanks to the newest additions to our team for all of their hard work this month, and to the city’s creative community for letting us pick their brains on all things style.
MONICA ALFORD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
ALWAYS QUALITY. ALWAYS RELIABLE. ALWAYS BĀKT CO. WWW.BAKTDC.COM 171 COMPLIANT - NOTHING FOR SALE
CREATES FOR A PURPOSE
WORDS BY MONICA ALFORD | PHOTOS BY JONATHAN THORPE
RADAR | DISTRICT DENIZENS “So much of my essence is in the streets, and so much of the streets’ essence is in me.” The streets Cita Sadeli is speaking of belong to the nation’s capital, the place she’s called home since age four and has a sometimes complicated, always loving relationship with. The artist knows D.C. the way only a native can. Each mention of a city block or street corner unravels a series of pithy stories and fond recollections of the city’s ever-evolving, often transformational arts community. An hour with Sadeli is like taking a crash course in what has made the District cool over the past several decades. Every DIY punk space, underground go-go club, bohemian artist collective, graffiti-tagged wall or other creative nook is one she’s experienced, explored, embraced, supported, mourned the loss of and encouraged the rebirth of since the ‘80s. She views so much of the city’s arts scene as cyclical, a poetic timeline of ebbs and flows that always seem worth riding the tide for. Sadeli, better known to most as MISS CHELOVE, is a muralist, art director, designer and illustrator who has built her career traversing and beautifying the quadrants of her beloved community. She navigates the tightrope so many authentic creators in D.C. try to, gracefully accepting gentrification while also keeping a fierce grip on what makes this city worth remaining in. “There’s just so many chapters,” she says. “There’s a memory everywhere for me of something that’s happened before or something I did before. Nothing compares to the place where you grew up. D.C. will always be my home. It has my heart, for all of its faults and changes.” She speaks with pride about the city’s graffiti artists pioneering the form and inspiring up-and-coming creators in the ‘80s when the punk movement was in full force, as well as the burgeoning street music scene and go-go’s pivotal role as the sonic backbone of our city. Sadeli walks me through the city’s steadfast political activism and artistic entrepreneurship at bustling collectives and interactive studios before seamlessly pivoting to the resources and infrastructure that now exist for makers of public art. D.C.’s artistic presence is unwavering, though the needs of the community continue to shift, as do the ways creators choose to express themselves and build connections. “With D.C. being positioned as a very international and political city, so many people are coming here to participate in actions and protests. It makes our town really unique in that way, especially when you add the intersection of art and especially when you add the intersection of graffiti art. It doesn’t follow the rules. It’s very raw.” When you add all of these elements together, she says, we have something other cities do not. We are a powder keg at the intersection of art and social justice. She recalls last summer’s uprisings around racial unrest, how walls were erected and canvases were filled by locals of all ages and backgrounds eager to express themselves artistically. “It was a really cool sort of egalitarian experience where it didn’t matter who you were, where you came from or how much experience you had. You were out there speaking your truth and it was resonating with so many people. It’s just so interesting to see the cycles of us expressing ourselves with art, and becoming a venue for anyone who wants to come and create art for a purpose.” 6
| JULY 2021
Sadeli speaks openly about how she selects her murals, pausing several times to share examples of moments she’s had to be direct with potential clients — sometimes to the point of discomfort — about why a project isn’t the right fit for her. She’s quick to recommend other artists so as not to leave them in the lurch, though, and firmly stands her ground when saying she will always be honest with them about why she needs to turn it down. She says providing no explanation is just rude, like declining an invitation to a party with no reason as to why. The artist has integrity, using these conversations as opportunities to educate people who may not understand or feel the reverberations of a culturally insensitive topic or a theme that might not resonate with multigenerational residents. “It’s a hard discussion to have,” she says. “It can spark a lot of emotions with clients, but so be it.” The artist says that without a doubt, the most meaningful projects to her are the ones centered on connecting with real people around real issues in support of the D.C. community. She does not associate herself with inaccessible or upsetting content — no exceptions. “How can we use art to create connection and a healing space for frustration and anger, but also dialogue, discourse and solutions? It makes D.C. so explosive in that way. There’s so many opportunities, especially overlapping with the dismantling of all of these structural systems. It’s a very interesting time to be in this city.”
The OG After getting to know Sadeli a bit, I’d argue that it’s always been an interesting time to be in this city — if you’re embracing it the way she has. Not only has she tapped into every underground scene and cultural renaissance we’ve experienced over the past four decades, she also continues to seek out the ways D.C. reinvents itself and carve out a safe and welcoming space for up-and-comers and fellow artists. As many of her peers have told me, “She’s the OG.” The Silver Spring, Maryland resident was born in Indiana, where her mother was attending Indiana University after winning a Fulbright scholarship. Four years later, her mom — who raised her and her three older siblings on her own — relocated to Prince George’s County in Maryland. “[We had a] really cool house in Hyattsville,” she says of her childhood home, one of the city’s oldest houses. “[I had a] very artsy, very loose, very free, very cool upbringing.” Her family dynamic lent itself well to creative freedom and the ability to embrace her cultural roots. She credits her exposure to the punk rock scene at an early age with giving her a DIY ethic that taught her how to navigate the world. “I’m still like that,” she says. “It’s about the work. It’s about the craft. The joy of making on a very grassroots level is something that’s really important to me, and really became ingrained in my being.” She says growing up with a single mother and having limited resources taught her how to make do with what she had. “With graffiti, that really inspired me to be very brave and paint really large. There’s a visual form and flow that’s still in my work. It’s still very important to me, and I’m actually
getting back into it a little bit. I’m kind of having a little personal revival with graffiti, which is great.” What feels like a spoken-word love letter to graffiti pours from Sadeli as she opens up about what the art form means to her. She speaks with a quiet fervor that draws you in; it’s subtle, yet captivating. “It’s so inspiring: what new ideas you can create from all of these different things. It’s a super cool way to learn about color, art, form, typography. So many graphic design and fine art basics can be learned through the practice of graffiti. It’s beautiful.” She says what D.C. really needs is an open wall where city artists can go legally and practice, and younger graffiti writers can learn from the OGs.
“It’s very much a hierarchical system where you’re coming in, you’re invited to a crew and you’re learning how to do all of these things from a very rudimentary level. [We need to] invite more women and girls, and equalize on that level more. I think it would be really great if we had a space like that in D.C., and I think it would be a great outlet for folks and a great training ground for young artists.” She emphasizes the importance of mentorship, something she says she’s never really had and secretly still wants. When she was coming up, seeking out a mentor wasn’t something she understood how to do. But looking back, she wishes she hadn’t isolated as much as she had. To the up-and-comers, she recommends keeping an open collaboration and channel of communication with the community. DISTRICT FRAY |
RADAR | DISTRICT DENIZENS “The best thing you can do is try not to do everything yourself. You have to include other people. When I’m having a crazy day, I need someone to talk me off the ledge. I just need to express something and [get] feedback real quick. Something that simple is really key.” Beyond that, she says you just have to put in the work. After all, you can’t do three sit-ups and expect a six-pack. She describes her muralist community as being full of super hard workers. “I always like to connect it back to having an immigrant upbringing, where you saw someone working so hard [who] just didn’t have a choice. We have goals here that we need to reach. We don’t have a lot of people to help out. You have to be scrappy. The constant honing of the craft [and] that thirst for wanting to master this thing, but having fun along the way — that’s key.” The impact of Sadeli’s immigrant upbringing extends beyond the work ethic her mother instilled in her to the palpable presence of spirituality and mysticism she has felt when visiting Java, the island her family is from in Indonesia. “In our culture, there’s this reverence for the forces of nature, so that’s what I try to channel and turn over in my mind: ‘What does that mean for me? How does that connect to my life here?’ [It’s] a very interesting position to be in. I’m always thinking of connection.” Tropical mysticism often works its way into her murals, allowing her to keep the energy of her ancestors with her through artistic expression. “Maybe it’s me searching for how to express and connect with my bloodline, and what that really means. I’m kind of fostering it forward, if you think about it that way.”
A Lot of Badass Yet another theme prevalent in many of Sadeli’s murals is female empowerment. She often thinks of her mother when painting women: resilient and powerful, and a huge source of her strength. “Maybe that’s also a way I keep her energy with me — through these women,” she says of her work. She started receiving more and more positive feedback on her pieces with a female focus, which felt really powerful to her. “I would see women [and] girls’ faces light up,” she says, “just to see how they would receive this image, maybe seeing an image that looks like them. I enjoyed that, and I wanted to carry that forward. I definitely have a preference for hiring women of color and giving folks an opportunity to learn from someone who has been doing it for a little while. I’ve become friends with each of them, and they’re each such amazing folks. In doing this, [I’ve] created a little community, which is really, really wonderful and totally something I didn’t expect.” She says mentorship comes naturally to her, which seems fitting given that it’s something she’s craved over the course of her career. That, and giving back to the community is a pillar of her work ethos. Each mural she creates is meant to be a storytelling experience, ideally digging into the historical components and current heartbeat of that particular corner of the city. She thrives on being caught up in the bustle of each street and each urban nook as she works, chatting with locals as they check out the mural in progress. She’s in it for longevity. Short-term murals don’t interest her, though she acknowledges they’re sometimes a necessary evil with the ever-impending waves of gentrification. 8
| JULY 2021
Her goal is to complete works of art that can last for a decade or two, keeping those stories alive on the street as opposed to in a museum. “We have such a wonderful opportunity to have access to the public 24 hours a day,” she says of muralists. “I feel the weight of that, and I don’t say weight in a negative way. It’s an opportunity and a privilege. I feel honored. I want to respect the opportunity each time.” Sadeli reminisces about last year’s “Guardians of the Four Directions,” a powerful mural covering the entirety of the newly opened, female-focused Hotel Zena downtown. She painted the massive work solo, which took her about four weeks, during the harrowing first months of the pandemic. While a strange time for us all, she enjoyed being a constant for the locals finding solace in a daily routine. She was their view on walks to get fresh air, slowly chipping away at her mural. She recently completed The Seasons Mural Collection at Signal House in Union Market District: four ceiling murals with 392 individual, hand-painted aluminum panels. She had a team for this one, navigating how to keep the nearly 400 puzzle pieces organized in a production line. The intense, lengthy, nearly three-month project was a totally new experience, she says, but “now we’ve got this really beautiful ceiling mural.” She adds, “If you actually lay down and look up, there is a really great way to just take in these huge, beautiful [themes] from nature. That was really exciting, totally new and a big challenge I think we overcame.” For this month’s cover shoot, we worked with Sadeli to select “You Are Welcome,” a 2018 mural painted for MuralsDC outside of Unity Health Care in Columbia Heights. The faces in her mural are meant to reflect multicultural, multigenerational patients of the clinic; the work as a whole is a symbol of inclusivity. She starts from a place of compelling urgency to make meaningful art with each piece, and even if she doesn’t quite achieve that every single time, it’s always what she aspires to. This verve extends to protecting her own community. While she notes changes in opportunities for artists — commissions, grants, pay equity, support from local government — she’s eager to see more cross-collaboration between disciplines. “I feel like we’re really siloed off as a community. Fine artists don’t really hang out with a lot of the mural folks. I wonder what would happen if we all came together to just share more energy [and] information about grants or tips on how to do this or that — just helping each other more.” Even still, her outlook remains largely positive, always looking ahead to the next project. There doesn’t seem to be any respite for the artist. One might include the word “hustle” if they had to take a stab at her mantra. In June, she worked on a design for a temporary exterior installation at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This month, she’s slated to create a women-themed mural (title TBD) on top of the 7-Eleven across from Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Neighborhood Library. And in September, she’ll be playing with an illustration and possible animation of The Phillips Collection’s logo in celebration of the museum’s centennial. During a recent conversation with another peer and admirer of Sadeli’s, I was told, “She is a lot of badass to squeeze into a couple of pages.” Agreed, but like my subject, I’ve truly enjoyed the challenge. Learn more about MISS CHELOVE at chelove.com and follow her on Instagram @misschelove.
CALENDAR | RADAR
It’s the heart of summer and D.C. is pressing play on all the familiar jams: endless days, rooftop rendezvous, sun-soaked meet-cutes and all the live outdoor concerts you’ve been dreaming of for a year. You’ve spent the last couple of months slowly emerging from your shell — let us take it from here. Dive into our Radar (and maybe a pool) to see what’s on the horizon in the capital.
ART CHAT AT NMWA
Join National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) educators online every Friday for informal 45-minute art chats about selected artworks in the collection. Discuss a new sampling of art each week. You can even enjoy your favorite happy hour drink or snack during the sessions. 5-5:45 p.m. Free with registration. Virtual. washington.org/event/art-chat-5-7 // @womeninthearts
#BRUNCHNBROOKLYN SUNDAY BRUNCH & DAY PARTY
All Day Brunch + Day Party. Reservations only + social distancing guidelines and sanitation protocols will be followed by staff and guests. Must text for confirmed reservation to enter. For brunch reservations/tables: TEXT 502-767-6187. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Brooklyn on U: 1212 U St. NW, DC; brooklyn-dc.com // @brooklynonu
Yoga at the National Building Museum. Photo from nbm.org.
CAPITOL RIVERFRONT CONCERT SERIES
The free Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series is back for its 11th season. Every Friday night this summer, head to Yards Park to relax and enjoy the river view, fantastic bands, food and beverage, and a large variety of great restaurants within a few minutes walk from the park. Family-friendly lyrics and grassy open space make this an enjoyable event for adults and kids alike. 7-9 p.m. Free. The Yards Park: 355 Water St. SE, DC; capitolriverfront.org // @capitolriverfront; dcfray.com // @dcfray
GET FIT AT FESSENDEN
Low-impact fitness classes every Saturday morning at Fessenden Park, offered in partnership with Tenleytown health and fitness studios. All fitness levels are welcome. Students are asked to bring their own mat, water, and a face mask. There is a $15 registration fee for each class. All proceeds support programming and maintenance of the park by Tenleytown Main Street and the Friends of Fessenden Park, which seeks to revitalize the park as a community gathering place for all ages. Tenleytown Main Street is an official park partner of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. 9 a.m. $15. Fessenden Park: Wisconsin Avenue and 42nd Street in NW, DC; eventbrite.fi/e/get-fit-at-fessenden-tickets-153047602499 DISTRICT FRAY |
RADAR | CALENDAR
HAPPY HOUR BINGO AT HOTEL ZENA
Join DC Fray and Hotel Zena for their in-person and free happy hour bingo night on Tuesdays. They’re following CDC guidelines to ensure you feel safe, while having a great night playing bingo and winning prizes. Fray will provide the host, the bingo materials (daubers too) and the awesome prizes for you to win. 6-7 p.m. Free. Figleaf Bar & Lounge: 1155 14th St. NW, DC; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com // @hotelzena; dcfray.com // @dcfray
LIVE TUESDAY BINGO AT UNION MARKET
Join DC Fray and Union Market for free, in-person bingo on Tuesdays. They’re following CDC guidelines to ensure you feel safe, while having a great night playing bingo and winning prizes. DC Fray and Union Market will provide the host, the bingo materials (daubers too.) and the awesome prizes for you to win. Safely get out of your house and jump back into fun with DC Fray. 6-7 p.m. Free. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; dcfray.com // @dcfray; unionmarketdc.com // @unionmarketdc
MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Meditation helps us build a relationship to a place of inner quietude. To contribute to a sense of calm in this uncertain time, the National Museum of Asian Art is offering free 30-minute online meditations three times each week led by D.C.-based meditation teachers. These free sessions are appropriate for all levels of practitioners and include a variety of mindfulness practices. All are welcome. No previous experience is required. Various dates and times. Free. Virtual. asia.si.edu/visit // @freersackler
OUTDOOR YOGA AT THE WHARF 2021
Unwind with an hour-long vinyasa outdoor yoga session taught by District Flow Yoga every Tuesday and Thursday on District Pier and every Sunday morning on Recreation Pier at the Wharf. Enjoy waterfront views and fresh air as you shed the stress of the day or greet the new one. On Thursday evenings, join at Cantina Bambina for sunset views and a complimentary refreshing Truly Hard Seltzer for the first 25 people. Various dates and times. $10. District Pier at The Wharf: 101 District Sq. SW, DC; districtflowyoga.com // @districtflowyoga
ROSSLYN RIVALS: CORNHOLE
What’s summertime without a little friendly competition? The popular Rosslyn Rivals series is back with the first-ever Rosslyn Rivals: Cornhole Tournament. Gather your team of champs and join on Wednesdays this summer, beginning July 14 through August 11. Each week, a new tournament bracket will be created based on the number of participants and teams on a first come, first served basis. At the end of the evening, the top two teams will win exciting prizes from local restaurants. As a bonus, participants will receive a free drink token at check-in to redeem at participating Rosslyn restaurants, good until 9 p.m. the day of the event. (Tokens valued at $11, must be 21+ to redeem for alcoholic beverages.) 6-8 p.m. Free. District Park: 1401 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; rosslynva.org // @rosslynva; dcfray.com // @dcfray 10 | JULY 2021
SUNDAY COMEDY AT THE ARTEMIS
The Artemis is excited to have this weekly show at their gorgeous brand-new spot in Columbia Heights. Every Sunday at 8 p.m, come see D.C.’s best comedians work out their new jokes, as well as hit you with some of the classics. The show will happen on their back patio space, weather permitting. If it rains, it’ll move indoors. 8-10 p.m. Free. The Artemis: 3605 14th St. NW, DC; theartemisdc.com // @theartemisdc
BEETHOVEN AND BOLOGNE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AT WOLF TRAP
Jonathon Heyward makes his Wolf Trap debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, along with a moving piece by the Kennedy Center’s new Composer-in-Residence Carlos Simon. Italian violinist Francesca Dego joins the NSO for a performance of Bolognes Violin Concerto in A major No. 2. 8 p.m. $32-$72. Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; wolftrap.org // @wolf_trap
FOREPLAY: A TRIBUTE TO ‘70S ROCK AT HAMILTON LIVE
This show is general admission. Your ticket allows you to sit anywhere in the venue that is not reserved. Per D.C. regulations, guests who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear facemasks. Guests who are not vaccinated or are partially vaccinated must wear facemasks whenever they are not seated at the table. 8 p.m. $20. The Hamilton Live: 600 14th St. NW, DC; live.thehamiltondc.com // @thehamiltondc
VIRTUAL SPEED DATING: FILTER OFF
This D.C. video speed dating event is an effective way for men and women to meet. Whether you are recently single, new in town or have been single for a while, this event is for you. To attend the video speed dating event, make sure to download the Filter Off app. Filter Off is modeled after real-world speed dating and is designed to get those with confidence, courage and crazy schedules meeting each other face-to-face. 8-9 p.m. Free. Virtual. getfilteroff.com // @filteroffdating
7.9-7.10 KELSEY COOK AT THE DC COMEDY LOFT
Kelsey Cook’s stand-up special was released earlier this year on EPIXs Unprotected Sets. She made her late night debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, followed by A Little Late with Lilly Singh on NBC. Her other television appearances include
CALENDAR | RADAR Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening, AXS TV Presents Gotham Comedy Live, Punchline on FOX, Uproarious on FUSE and Greatest Party Story Ever on MTV. She has spent the last six years touring in over 60 cities across the country. Various dates and times. $25. DC Comedy Loft: 1523 22nd St. NW, DC; dccomedyloft.com // @dccomedyloft; kelseycook.com // @kelseycookcomedy
WINGAPO! WELCOME TO THE NATIVE AMERICAN DANCE CIRCLE
Wingapo! Welcome to the Native American Dance Circle performances and interactive activities will showcase Indigenous culture through music, film, dance, storytelling, an Artists Market and more. Special multigenerational activities will be featured during the day on Saturday, July 10. Various dates and times. Free. The REACH at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
7.9, 7.23 + 8.6
TRIVIA NIGHT AT HISTORIC SITES
Staff members at Carlyle House Historic Park and the LeeFendall House Museum combine their knowledge to create bi-weekly trivia nights throughout the summer in the beautiful gardens of the Lee-Fendall House. Test your knowledge on everything from pop culture to history. Registration must be done in advance. Tickets are $8 per person and include snacks and one complimentary drink. Additional drinks can be purchased at our bar. Teams are limited to 6 people, ages 21+ only. Attendees should wear face masks when not seated at their tables. Tables will be spaced to allow for social distancing and there will be limited capacity so register early. Each trivia night will have a different theme. There will be weekly prizes for the winning team as well as a grand prize for the team that wins the most points over the entire summer. 7 p.m. $8. Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden: 614 Oronoco St. Alexandria, VA; leefendallhouse.org // @leefendallhousemuseum
COLD WAR SCIFY FILM SERIES: KING KONG VS GODZILLA
Summer at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy includes films celebrating classic science fiction movies produced during the geopolitical period known as the Cold War (1947-1991). Science fiction films made during this period played on the tensions and fears of the time by having themes and characters associated with alien invasion and infiltration, monsters created by radioactive fallout and the near annihilation of the world. While some of these films have been remade to varying degrees of box office success,
the original versions (most in black and white) remain a lasting testament to the era in which they were made and are important contributions to the fabric of American popular culture. 11:30 a.m. Free. National Museum of the U.S. Navy: 736 Sicard St. SE, DC; history.navy.mil/content/history/museums/nmusn.html // @nmusn
SO FETCH! D.C.’S SUPREME 2000’S TRIBUTE BAND
So Fetch invites you to relive the 2000s in all its bedazzled, velour glory, bringing you all of the best hits from the aughts, from Avril to Outkast, from Blink to Beyonce, from Kanye to Ke$ha, to that one song you liked from The O.C. Get out your velour, your trucker hats, and pop at least two collars, because So Fetch IS happening and they are coming to the Tarara Summer Concert Series on July 10 to bring you all of your favorite hits from the 2000s. 6-9:30 p.m. $10-$45. Tarara Winery: 13648 Tarara Ln. Leesburg, VA; tarara.com // @tararawinery
7.10 + 7.11 MAX WEINBERG’S JUKEBOX AT WOLF TRAP
Max Weinberg’s Jukebox continues to be an audience favorite blasting out the hits. In these interactive concerts, the audience picks the songs and tells the band what to play. From the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones to Steppenwolf, the band infuses these classics with the respect the songs deserve. As one fan said, “It’s not a concert — it’s a party.” 8 p.m. $42-$127. Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; wolftrap.org // @wolf_trap
7.10 + 7.24 MIXOLOGY CLASS ON U STREET DC
Learn some history as you mix hands on and taste. You will learn how to make shaken and stirred cocktails and also create your own cocktails with the knowledge you gain. Great for team building, dates, or a day out with the homies. Brunch is available for purchase after class. 12 p.m. $59.95. Bin 1301 Wine Bar: 1301 U St. NW, DC; bin1301dc.com // @bin1301dc
7.10 + 7.25 LOTS OF LOVE #DRAGBRUNCH
Come one come all as tickets are limited to one of the hottest #DragBrunch and day party in the Tri-cities (Arlington, Alexandria & Falls Church) of Virginia. This event is hosted by none other than Emcee Hollywood and sounds by #DjTori. Aside from these two wonderful vibrant talents, #DragBrunch will have special performances by Crimsyn, Kimberely Dinitta, Lisa Chanel Monroe and Trenton C. Snow. Brunch starts at 12 p.m. and ends DISTRICT FRAY | 11
RADAR | CALENDAR at 4 p.m. Wait up. The fun isn’t over yet. After the wonderful and tasty brunch, the show starts at 1 p.m. This is a RSVP only and ticketed event, with limited availability. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. $40-$60. Fairouz Lounge, Sports Bar & Restaurant: 3815 S. George Mason Dr. Falls Church, VA; fairouzlounge.com // @FairouzLoungeVA
ADAMS MORGAN DRAG QUEEN STORY TIME
Join this Summer for Drag Queen Storytime in Adams Morgan. The event is free and open to children of all ages (and perfect for the entire family). The goal of Drag Queen Storytime is to inspire a love of reading, while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, self-love and an appreciation of others. 11 a.m. Free. Unity Park: Intersection of Columbia Road, Champlain Street + Euclid Street in NW, DC; admodc.org // @admobid
DC POLO SOCIETY EVENT
Your Sunday Funday is back. Bring your friends, family, kids (free under 16) and dogs (on a leash) for a unique experience on select Sunday’s of the month. At this time, only tailgate spots are being sold for as low as $25 per person. Each group reservation comes with a bottle of wine. 10% of all tickets purchased will be donated to USO-Metro. 2-5:30 p.m. $125+. Congressional Polo Club: 14660 Hughes Rd. Poolesville, MD; dcpolo.com // @dcpolosociety; dcfray.com // @dcfray
Have you ever noticed how you find things you never would’ve imagined in your relative’s basement? Dupont’s Basement is an arts market that relishes in the fancily strange and unique to bring a fun shopping experience to the Dupont neighborhood. There will be 18 unique vendors showcasing their creative works. 12-5 p.m. Free. Dupont Underground: 19 Dupont Cir. NW, DC; dupontunderground.org // @dupontunderground
PURE BARRE - FREE OUTDOOR CLASS
Bring your mat and some water and come join us on the King Farm Village Green. Starting in May, Pure Barre will offer a free outdoor class every first Sunday of the month. The Village Green is located on the Southeast corner of King Farm Boulevard and Pleasant Dr. Masks are required while coming, going and setting up; however, they may be removed once you are stationed on your mat and have ensured proper distance (6 feet) between yourself and others. Weather permitting. If it is raining please assume class is cancelled. 10:30-11:20 a.m. Free. King Farm Village Center: 302-404 King Farm Blvd. Rockville, MD; purebarre.com // @purebarredc
RACISM WITHIN: BLACK PEOPLE + THE INFERIORITY COMPLEX
Professional moderator and host Krystal Glass is known for hosting thought-provoking discussions that move the culture forward. The upcoming conversation “Racism Within” explores 12 | JULY 2021
the inferiority complex that many Black people knowingly or unknowingly have...All too often, racism is discussed from one angle, the angle of white people and others who discriminate against Black people. However, the often untold side of racism, is racism within — and how an inferiority complex is a result of racism. You don’t want to miss this mind-altering conversation. 5 p.m. Free. Busboys and Poets: 2021 14th St. NW, DC; busboysandpoets.com // @busboysandpoets
SUMMER CRUSH AT NATIONAL LANDING EVENT
Summer is here and it’s time to get fit. No matter your speed — yoga, dance or HIIT workouts — we’ve got you covered. Reserve your spot today. Join DC Fray and National Landing for our in-person fitness event: SUMMER CRUSH. There are three instructors: yoga with Alix Montes, HIIT with Sunny Mae Miller and dance with Chandra Hampton. Met Park: 1330 South Fair St. Pentagon City, VA; nationallanding.org // @nationallanding; dcfray.com // @dcfray
YOGA AT THE NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM
Rise and shine at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Join for a mellow, all-level yoga class under the colossal, 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns in the Great Hall of The National Building Museum, America’s leading cultural institution devoted to interpreting the history and impact of the built environment. All are welcome — the class is open to brand new and seasoned yogis alike. No previous yoga experience required. Please purchase tickets in advance and BYO yoga mat. 10 a.m. $20. National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; nbm.org // @nationalbuildingmuseum
THROWBACK WEDNESDAY AT PIKE & ROSE
Grab your neon fanny pack and best ‘90s attire and join for a choose-your-own-adventure night of throwback summer fun. Live arcade games, interactive painting, amazing food and bevvies from the Canopy by Hilton Washington DC Bethesda North. $10 entry to the event (‘90s themed cocktail included), pay-to-play games, and ticket reservations ($30) required for Sarah Paints Rappers and complimentary laser photo booth. 5-8 p.m. $10+. Canopy by Hilton: 940 Rose Ave. Rockville, MD; pikeandrose.com // @pikeandrose; dcfray.com // @dcfray
ESCAPE THE CITY WITH
SUMMER SUNDAYS JULY 11 / AUGUST 8 / SEPTEMBER 12 / OCTOBER 10 REGISTER AT:
RADAR | CALENDAR
7.14 + 7.15
BARENAKED LADIES + TOAD THE WET SPROCKET AT WOLF TRAP
Smashing together humorous lyrics with pop-rock melodies, headliners Barenaked Ladies have kept audiences singing and dancing to catchy hits like “One Week,” “Pinch Me” and “If I Had $1,000,000” for over 30 years. The 6th edition of the Last Summer On Earth Tour also features rock quintet Gin Blossoms (“Hey Jealousy,” “Follow You Down”) and melodic band Toad The Wet Sprocket (“All I Want,” “Walk on the Ocean”). 5:30 p.m. $50. Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; wolftrap.org // @wolf_trap
THE BIG FAKE WEDDING WASHINGTON, D.C.
This is not your typical bridal show. This is a bridal show alternative complete with a meaningful vow renewal ceremony, light bites and a dance-party reception. Yep, they host big, fake weddings to connect brides and grooms to the best local vendors. At The Big Fake Wedding, you will receive wedding inspiration you can see and taste. Think of it as your wedding Pinterest board coming to life. Unlike typical bridal shows or wedding websites, 14 | JULY 2021
you will have the opportunity to bond with each vendor and witness them in action before making an investment toward your big day. 7-9 p.m. $32. International Spy Museum: 700 L’Enfant Plz. SW, DC; thebigfakewedding.com // @thebigfakewedding
CAPITAL BOOK FEST
Downtown D.C.’s outdoor, pop-up bookstore returns to Wilson Plaza. Shop thousands of gently used books, CDs and DVDs, all on sale for $6 or less. Books provided by Carpe Librum, a local used bookstore benefitting nonprofit Turning the Page. 10 a.m.5 p.m. Free. Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; downtowndc.org + rrbitc.com // @reaganitcdc
LIVE MUSIC SERIES AT THE BORO: DEANNA DOVE Get your dancing shoes ready — live music is back at The Boro. Plan an alfresco evening complete with free outdoor music from local performers every Thursday this summer. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free. The Boro Tysons: 8350 Broad St. Tysons, VA; theborotysons.com // @theborotysons; dcfray.com // @dcfray
SUNSET CINEMA AT THE WHARF 2021: “42”
It’s All Star Week and an opportunity to pay tribute to both the late Chadwick Boseman and Jackie Robinson in this moving story of how one man helped break the color barrier in America’s favorite pastime. 7:30 p.m. Free. Transit Pier at The Wharf: 970 Wharf St. SW, DC; wharfdc.com // @thewharfdc Sunset Cinema at the Wharf. Photo from wharFdc.com.
Gearing up to record a comedy special, Ricky Velez is coming to town for his DC Improv debut. His honest routines about anxiety, mental health, society and his New York upbringing have won over a cult following. He’s been featured on Comedy Central, and he recently appeared alongside Pete Davidson in the 2020 comedy The King of Staten Island. Check out a rising star at one of the country’s best comedy venues. Various dates and times. $30. DC Improv Comedy Club & Restaurant: 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; dcimprov.com // @dcimprov
On Friday, July 16, join to experience the beautiful region “La Savoie”; the heart of the French Alps. Enjoy a delicious selection of dishes curated by the best local chefs, participate in a silent auction filled with wonderful items and sip a glass of wine while listening to some fantastic live music. 7 p.m. $150+. La Maison Française, Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis: 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW, DC; comite-tricolore.org // @comite.tricolore. org; dcfray.com // @dcfray
RICKY VELEZ AT DC IMPROV
¡VIVA CULTURA! A CELEBRATION OF LATINX ARTS AND CULTURE
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Arlington, VA Council 4613 invites you to join to embrace Latinx heritage by supporting local artists. Come dance to the beat of reggaeton with live music performances, move with the rhythm of salsa, merengue and bachata dance classes, and of course, a picturesque artesanias market for all ages. Various dates and times. Free. The REACH, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
Seltzerland Washington D.C. Photo from seltzerland.com/washington-dc-2021.
BASTILLE DAY 2021
WHITE FORD BRONCO AT THE HAMILTON LIVE
Long a mere dream kicking around in the overactive imaginations of its founders, White Ford Bronco officially came into being in the Spring of 2008. Since then the five member ensemble has been sparking bouts of flannel-laden, slapbracelet-snapping, pog-playing, big-butt-loving nostalgia across the Washington, D.C. area that they call home. If you’re longing for the days when Danny Tanner could solve everything with a hug and presidential scandals only involved ruining a marriage, allow them to take you on a musical journey to that magical last decade of the 20th century. Whatever flavor — be it Alternative, Rock, Pop, R&B, Hip Hop, or Country — if it’s ‘90s, they’ll play it. 8 p.m. $25. The Hamilton Live: 600 14th St. NW, DC; live.thehamiltondc.com // @thehamiltondc DISTRICT FRAY | 15
RADAR | CALENDAR
Bring a blanket and relax on the east lawn overlooking the Potomac River. Sample wine from Virginia wineries. Meet George Washington. The Shops at Mount Vernon are open until 9 p.m. The Mansion will be closed during this event. Mount Vernon can be accessed from the Washington, DC metro by car or by public transportation. 6-9 p.m. Prices vary for members and the general public. Mount Vernon: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. Mount Vernon, VA; mountvernon.org // @mount_vernon
Experience Electric Rainbow - Day Glow Fundraiser, a raucous tea dance party to benefit D.C. LGBTQ+ small businesses affected by Covid. DJ Chord will be spinning tunes with performances from KC B. Yoncé and Jazzmin. 4-8 p.m. Capo Italian Deli: 715A Florida Ave. NW, DC; dcfray.com // @dcfray
VOLUNTEER AT H STREET FARMS
MASQUERADE BALL DRESS REHEARSAL & TRIVIA (VIRTUAL)
SUMMER WINE FESTIVAL & SUNSET TOUR
7.17, 7.24, 7.31
Join every Saturday at H Street Farms (the rooftop garden on top of W.S. Jenks Hardware). A unique rooftop growing area that utilizes D.C.’s unused space. With three greenhouses and many plants, you are encouraged to come to get involved and have a try at a green thumb. 12-4 p.m. Free. H Street Farms W.S. Jenks and Sons: 910 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; cultivatethecity.com // @hstfarms
THE CACTUS LIQUORS AT THE HAMILTON LIVE
This show is general admission. Your ticket allows you to sit anywhere in the venue. Per D.C. regulations, guests who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear facemasks. Guests who are not vaccinated or are partially vaccinated must wear facemasks whenever they are not seated at the table. 8 p.m. $20+. The Hamilton Live: 600 14th St. NW, DC; live.thehamiltondc.com // @thehamiltondc
WASHINGTON D.C. SELTZERLAND 2021
On Saturday, July 17th Rock Creek Golf Course is turning into a hard seltzer paradise. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind immersive experience as you spend the afternoon tasting 30+ unique hard seltzers. Indulge in mouthwatering munchies, tons of seltzer swag, and you better plan on busting out the gram for an epic photoshoot. VIP: 11 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. GA: 12:30-5 p.m. $29+. Rock Creek Park Golf Course: 6100 16th St. NW, DC; cannonballproductions.com // @seltzer_land
ELECTRIC RAINBOW DAY GLOW FUNDRAISER
FREE COMMUNITY DAY AT NMWA
Visit on Community Day for free admission to the museum — take this opportunity to explore current exhibitions, the collection and events. Mary Ellen Mark: Girlhood presents images photographer Mary Ellen Mark made throughout her career depicting girls and young women. Selections from the Collection highlights works from the museum’s collection, which is regularly rotated to spark new thematic connections. 12-5 p.m. Free. National Museum of Women in the Arts: 1250 New York Ave. NW, DC; nmwa.org // @womeninthearts
The designers and Coaches offer tips on how to uncover the rules you have around style and if they are serving you in the advancement of your goals. Then they give you the tools to go shopping in your own closet to find those hidden gems and the confidence to pair, repurpose and create your personal style. The event will intertwine these great tips with a Trivia Game, with lots of fun prizes for the winners. To add more fun to the evening, add a favorite accessory to represent your favorite style icon, such as a big gorgeous pair of sunglasses to evoke some Coco Chanel energy. Enjoy this fun night of meeting new friends, cocktails, trivia, prizes and learning some great new fashion tips. 8-10 p.m. $15. Virtual. merevents.com // @merevents
SILVER SPRING ARTS & CRAFTS SUMMER FAIR
Welcome summer at Veterans Plaza with lots of arts + crafts, good music, dance, performances and many, many more fun activities for both adults and kids alike. Over 60 artisans and crafters, independent consultants and small businesses are coming together to the annual Silver Spring Arts and Crafts Summer Festival. 1-7 p.m. Free. Silver Spring Veterans Plaza: 1 Veterans Plz. Silver Spring, MD; chiceventsdc.com // @chiceventsdc
7.20–7.25 KRYSTAL COLLINS AT DANCE PLACE
In partnership with Hillwood Estate, Dance Place and Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens present a co-commissioned, site-specific, movement-based performance commission and 16 | JULY 2021
presentation. The performance will take place at Hillwood, where the selected Artist/Company will share a new work which is in dialogue with the incoming sculpture installation Rich Soil by Kristine Mays, a California-based sculpture artist whose inspirations include Alvin Ailey’s famed work, Revelations. Stay tuned for an announcement about the selected artist. Various dates and times. Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC; danceplace.org // @danceplacedc
JIMBO MATHUS AND THE DIAL BACK SOUND AT THE HAMILTON LIVE
For 40 years, Jimbo Mathus has blazed a singular path as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and shaman. Founder of New Orleans swing band SquirrelNut Zippers, he has recorded and released more than 300 songs. This impressive body of work is a testament to his hoodoo craftsmanship and to the sounds, sights and spirits of his inspirations in the Deep South. In 2021, a collaboration with former bandmate Andrew Bird led to the album “These 13,” which was released to critical acclaim and high praise. 8 p.m. $25+. The Hamilton Live: 600 14th St. NW, DC; live.thehamiltondc.com // @thehamiltondc
LIVE MUSIC SERIES AT THE BORO: ELIZABETH & PHIL OF THE BREAKAWAYS
Get your dancing shoes ready — live music is back at The Boro. Plan an alfresco evening complete with free outdoor music from local performers every Thursday this summer. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free. The Boro Tysons: 8350 Broad St. Tysons, VA; theborotysons.com // @theborotysons; dcfray.com // @dcfray
SUNSET CINEMA AT THE WHARF 2021: “GIRLS TRIP”®
Grab your girlfriends and get ready for a special Girls Night Out at the movies. Fun swag bags and more. Dogs and food from any Wharf restaurant are allowed, but please, no outside beverages. 7:30 p.m. Free. Transit Pier at The Wharf: 970 Wharf St. SW, DC; wharfdc.com // @thewharfdc
7.22-7.24 ADOBO GIGANTE
The DMV’s authentic Afro-Latinx experience is back with a midsummer’s weekend of programming at the Kennedy Center. ADOBO will be featuring live performances from some of the top local artists in D.C., as well as DJ sets from Pedro Night, DJ Bembona, DJ Alizay, DJ Bo and more. Various dates and times. Free. The REACH at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
START MAKING SENSE AT THE HAMILTON LIVE
If David Byrne is one of the geniuses of modern times, then Start Making Sense is a tribute to genius. The musicians in this 7-10 piece Talking Heads Tribute take pride in faithfully recreating the music of Talking Heads’ entire career. Together they bring much of the Heads’ unique live show aura to the stage, with front man Jon Braun as a spot-on David Byrne, giving you a once in a lifetime experience. Prepare yourself for a rockin’, funkin’, danceable celebration of the new-wave art punk you loved from the ‘80s. 8 p.m. $27.50+. The Hamilton Live: 600 14th St. NW, DC; live.thehamiltondc.com // @thehamiltondc
THE BRUNCH OLYMPICS
Calling all brunch lovers and connoisseurs — are you ready for the largest outdoor brunch experience in D.C.? Featuring @DarrenBrand_ “Big Baby” from MTV’s Wild ‘N Out and @ DJQuickSilva. 11 a.m. $25-$225. The Bullpen: 1201 Half St. SE, DC; eventbrite.com/e/the-brunch-olympics-dc-tickets-157035205527?aff=e bdssbdestsearch
LIVE MUSIC SERIES AT THE BORO: PRACTICALLY EINSTEIN
Get your dancing shoes ready — live music is back at The Boro. Plan an alfresco evening complete with free outdoor music from local performers every Thursday this summer. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free. The Boro Tysons: 8350 Broad St. Tysons, VA; theborotysons.com // @theborotysons; dcfray.com // @dcfray
SUNSET CINEMA AT THE WHARF 2021: “BEST IN SHOW”
Before there was “Schitt’s Creek” there was “Best in Show.” Eugene Levy and crew deliver a hilarious spoof on the world of dog shows. Bring your dogs along for a special goody bag. 7:30 p.m. Free. Transit Pier at The Wharf: 970 Wharf St. SW, DC; wharfdc.com // @thewharfdc
D.C. LEGENDARY MUSICIANS
A block party made for the Native Washingtonians — hand dance, soul, the history of voting and more. Various dates and times. Free. D.C. Legendary Musicians is part of the Kennedy Center’s 2021 Millennium Stage Summer Series, celebrating our DISTRICT FRAY | 17
RADAR | CALENDAR societal emergence from the pandemic and the return of live performances. Various dates and times. Free. The REACH at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
AROUND THE WORLD CULTURAL FOOD FESTIVAL
The Around the World Cultural Food festival is coming back in 2021 at a new venue — the beautiful, waterfront park — Oronoco Bay Park, downtown Old Town Alexandria, VA. The event is admission free, with plenty of national dishes and beverages available for purchase. There will be a full day schedule of traditional dances on the stage. Ethnic arts & crafts, small businesses and non-profit organizations will also be present at the festival. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Free. Oronoco Bay Park: 100 Madison St. Alexandria, VA; eventbrite.com/e/around-the-worldcultural-food-festival-tickets-97014160967
SILVER SPRING INTERNATIONAL FOOD & CRAFT FAIR
A celebration of the Nations from great food, to crafts and music, this festival is guaranteed fun for the entire family. Over 60 artisans and crafters, independent consultants and small businesses are coming together for the day, while the DJ will play a selection of international music for everyone’s enjoyment. 1-7 p.m. Free. Veterans Plaza: 1 Veterans Plz. Silver Spring, MD; chiceventsdc.com // @chiceventsdc
DC WATER LANTERN FESTIVAL
Water Lantern Festival is filled with fun, happiness, hope and great memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. This is a family friendly event that can be shared by everyone. Friends, families, neighbors and lots of people that you haven’t met can come together to create a peaceful, memorable experience. 5-10 p.m. $25+. National Harbor SouthPointe: 701 National Harbor Blvd. Oxon Hill, MD; waterlanternfestival.com // @waterlanternfestival
STRAIGHT NO CHASER AT WOLF TRAP
Straight No Chaser is reinventing the idea of a cappella. With tightly arranged songs, impeccable vocal harmonies, and a healthy sense of humor, the group’s success has led to over 100 18 | JULY 2021
million YouTube views and collaborations with Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Dolly Parton. 8 p.m. $32. Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; wolftrap.org // @wolf_trap
LIVE MUSIC SERIES AT THE BORO: DESERT SHADE
Get your dancing shoes ready — live music is back at The Boro. Plan an alfresco evening complete with free outdoor music from local performers every Thursday this summer. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free. The Boro Tysons: 8350 Broad St. Tysons, VA.; theborotysons.com // @theborotysons; dcfray.com // @dcfray
NATALIE CRESSMAN & IAN FAQUINI
Join for an evening that promises to transport you to Rio de Janeiro via Rockville Pike. Featuring songs in English, Portuguese, and French, this captivating duo draws from impressionism, jazz and the great Brazilian songwriting tradition. 8:30 p.m. $96-$152. Patio Stage at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. N Bethesda, MD; strathmore.org // @strathmorearts
SUNSET CINEMA AT THE WHARF 2021: “JERSEY BOYS”®
The series is free but you must pre-register. You can register for up to six in a group at one time, if you need more tickets, please complete another registration. The legendary Frankie Valli plays The Anthem just two days later. Celebrate the return of live music and sing along to all your favorites. Dogs and food from any Wharf restaurant is allowed, but please, no outside beverages. 7:30 p.m. Free. Transit Pier at The Wharf: 970 Wharf St. SW, DC; wharfdc.com // @thewharfdc
8.5-8.7 RAGA AT THE REACH
Raga at the REACH is a three-day festival focused on presenting the vibrant culture and heritage of India through live music, dance, film and local arts vendors. Raga at the REACH is part of the Kennedy Center’s 2021 Millennium Stage Summer Series, celebrating our societal emergence from the pandemic and the return of live performance. Various dates and times. Free. The REACH at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH
WOLFGANG WORDS BY RINA RAPUANO | PHOTOS BY ANDREW J. WILLIAMS III
Mega celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck pulls back the curtain on his early life and dishes about his local restaurant, CUT DC. 20 | JULY 2021
Wolfgang Puck is so recognizable, it’s easy to feel like we know him. It could even be argued that he’s the most famous chef in the world. But while many are familiar with the highlights reel of his story — the groundbreaking cuisine served to celebrities at Spago, which originally opened in West Hollywood in 1982; his Austrian upbringing, evidenced by his instantly recognizable accent; and random appearances in popular culture (you know you’re an icon when you land a cameo on “The Simpsons”) — Puck is the first to admit that few know what his life was like before he emigrated to America. He’s hoping that will change with the recent Disney+ release of “Wolfgang,” a film by the director of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” that takes a look at Puck’s early life.
“I really believe people don’t know where I come from, how I grew up [or] how hard it really was,” he says of the film. “I never talked about my life growing up with my stepfather, how many obstacles there were in the way [or] how much adversity there was. I want the kids and young people to know that adversity makes you stronger. You have to stay positive, and if you cannot go over [an obstacle], you go on the side. You always find a way.” Perhaps because of that early adversity, Puck describes himself as someone who tends to focus on the present and the future instead of dwelling in the past. In fact, one of Puck’s many disciples, CUT DC executive chef Andrew Skala, says his mentor will call him every week or so and starts every conversation with, “What’s new?”
EAT Lately, what’s new is a sprinkle of tradition. As the moviewatching public learns of his mother’s cooking and the safe feeling of her kitchen, CUT DC in Georgetown will offer a few of Puck’s childhood favorites as specials to promote the movie release. District diners will be able to try his famous wienerschnitzel — a pounded veal cutlet that Puck and his army of chefs fry to golden perfection in 375-degree oil after dipping it in flour, egg and breadcrumbs to order — as well as kaiserschmarren. [Ed. note: The special menu items promoting the release of “Wolfgang” are no longer being offered.] “Traditionally in Austria, it’s like a heavy pancake,” he says of the dessert that his mother often served as a main course. “Then you tear it apart with two forks in a pan, put powdered sugar on it or whatever, glaze it or caramelize it a little bit, and then we serve it together with plum compote. I changed it when I put it on the menu at Spago. I make it much lighter, with less flour and more whipped egg whites. So, now it’s more the consistency of a soufflé, and we serve it with warm strawberry compote.” When Puck isn’t promoting a movie, he generally tries to keep his nose out of the day-to-day and menu planning at his far-flung restaurants. Like a good parent, he knows that once he has given his chefs the tools for success, he must trust them to go do their own thing — while maintaining the integrity of the brand, of course. “I really think every restaurant we run should be run by the general manager and the chef. Andrew was with me for 15 or 16 years, so I trust that he’s going to do the best job possible. I don’t want to be the babysitter. I think once I work with people for a long time, and know how they cook or how they are in hospitality, I basically say, ‘You know what? If I can do it, you can do it.’ So I work a lot on trust, really.” That means even though there are eight versions of CUT
scattered across the globe, Puck prefers each one to use local ingredients and let the talents of each local chef shine through. Skala says Puck wanted CUT DC, located inside the Rosewood Hotel, to be something different from the very beginning. “I started this from scratch, keeping with the ethos of CUT and the brand, but doing something I thought spoke a little bit more about what I wanted to do and what I thought at the time could be relevant.” Indeed, it might be the only steakhouse to describe itself as having a “vegetable and seafood-centric menu,” and Skala prides himself on converting meat lovers into guests who rave about the vegan leek dish dressed with hazelnuts, preserved lemons, and a white soy and white balsamic vinaigrette — or the cauliflower prepared in the style of shawarma. But when Puck is in the Georgetown kitchen preparing wienerschnitzel, Skala knows how to give the legend the respect he deserves. When Puck jokes, “If it’s f--ked up, it’s going to be all your fault,” Skala automatically volleys back with a “Yes, Chef!” Onlookers erupt with laughter but are perhaps all relieved when he turns around, beaming, and says, “Ahh, perfect. Look at that! My mother would be proud of that.” Skala’s crisp response: “Yes, Chef!” To watch “Wolfgang” on Disney+, go to disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/movie/wolfgang. Learn more about the world-renowned chef at wolfgangpuck.com and follow on Instagram @wolfgangpuck. CUT DC: 1050 31st St. NW, DC; 202-617-2424; rosewoodhotels.com/en/washington-dc/dining/cut // @cutdc
BINGO TUESDAYS // 6PM TO 7PM
DISTRICT FRAY | 21
Chef Mykie Moll Cooks with Love, Dances in the Kitchen + Welcomes All at Crazy Aunt Helen’s WORDS BY COLLEEN KENNEDY | PHOTO BY ANDREW J. WILLIAMS III Chef Mykie Moll can’t stop dancing — not during our interview, not while he’s giving a tour of new Capitol Hill restaurant Crazy Aunt Helen’s and especially not in the kitchen, where he’s prepping a few dishes soon to be on the menu. The shoulder shakes and bopping transforms into pure ballet: a graceful slide down the long line from flame to flame, an agile turn of the wrist to flip what’s searing in the pan and a graceful duet with Brenda Gamez, who will be the early shift sous chef. The pair previously worked together at Doi Moi and Mintwood Place. Today, as they prepare in the restaurant, slated to open this month, their rhythm is natural and elegant as they interweave their way through the large, stainless steel space. That’s the thing about Chef Mykie: He’s disarmingly lowkey in conversation — charming and boyish, with an infectious laugh — but he’s all professional verve in his natural habitat. Growing up in Northern Virginia between McLean and Alexandria, Mykie’s single mother would work long hours. As latchkey kids, Moll and his brother started cooking meals for themselves when they were still in elementary school, and he was onto grilling by the age of 12. Yet a career in the kitchen wasn’t necessarily a given vocation. Moll, who excelled in math, began a degree in industrial and systems engineering at Lehigh University. But he couldn’t picture himself sitting behind a computer screen all day. Rethinking a career path, he recalled how much he enjoyed cooking when he was younger. “It’s very hard to get a job in the kitchen if you don’t have any experience,” he says. “But how do you get experience if someone doesn’t give you that chance?” Moll started working at Red Robin, a franchise known for 22 | JULY 2021
casual dining and juicy burgers, in Lehigh Valley. “I got lucky at Red Robin. They let me work in their kitchen, and I fell in love. I was like, ‘This is it.’ Within the first two months, I learned every station.” After that, he transferred to a steakhouse in Pennsylvania. Within six months, he was promoted to all the duties of a sous chef. But lacking the title and only offered a 50-cent raise, he soon left to attend L’Academie de Cuisine and study French culinary arts. That’s where he met Chef Johanna Hellrigl, most recently of “sorta South American” spot Mercy Me inside Yours Truly DC Hotel. She was a judge for an intramural competition and noticed Moll’s skills, later helping him make connections and land his first positions in D.C. During the last six years, Moll has been working his way up at Shaw Bijou, Mintwood Place, Doi Moi and, most recently, Carlie Steiner’s Pom Pom, which closed during the pandemic after an auspicious opening just several months earlier. “I really wanted to offer this opportunity to a female chef first because they are still often looked over, and I owe my whole career to women who offered me opportunities,” Shane Mayson states. Mayson, formerly of Jamie Leeds Restaurant Group, has opened six restaurants in the District. But Crazy Aunt Helen’s is his first venture as owner. “My friend Jo-Jo [Valenzuela] sent me Mykie’s name. I checked him out and everyone had really great things to say about him. I spoke with Mykie, and he said, ‘I know you are looking for a female chef, but I am transitioning. I am a man, and if that takes me out of the running, I am okay with that.’”
EAT During their long conversation, Mayson was impressed by Moll’s passion, talent, drive and authenticity. “That phone call, that was it,” Mayson says. “I knew he was the one, and that was even before I tasted his food.” Just as Moll’s childhood experiences were formative in his culinary career, during our conversation, he shared another childhood memory. In preschool, Moll informed his teacher that his real name was Michael, leading to a call home to his mother. Over the years, Moll says his mother has been supportive and loving, educating herself along the way, first when he came out — Moll is a fixture of D.C.’s LGBTQ+ scene and says that A League of Her Own (ALOHO) has been like a second home — and more recently as he began transitioning during the pandemic. Despite societal pressures during his early childhood and taunts of being a tomboy, Moll’s first name reflects who he was when he was a child and who he proudly is today. And today, we are in Crazy Aunt Helen’s, where Mayson greets us and offers a tour alongside Moll. Born in South Carolina, Mayson wanted Southern cooking on the menu but to extend the restaurant’s offerings to American comfort food, recognizing that the bouillabaisse of American ethnicities, regionalities and identities adds flavor to our favorite dishes. “Southern fare is something I grew up on,” Moll says. “I grew up in Virginia, but we would go down to South Carolina sometimes. I’m also Jewish so I am going to make house-made corned beef [with] very thick slices [that are] super tender for the Reuben sandwich, with house-made Thousand Island dressing. My grandmother’s brisket is going to be on there. She’s literally been telling all of her friends that her brisket is on the menu.” “I want to welcome people into our home,” Mayson adds, spreading his arms wide in a friendly gesture while standing amidst the stacked chairs, boxes and unhung paintings all waiting to be unpacked to deck this eclectic space. The dark wood of the bar is the only remnant of the restaurant’s recent past as Irish pub Finn McCool’s. “Everyone’s welcome,” Moll agrees. “It’s a place for everyone, and everyone’s going to be treated with love, respect, dignity and kindness. We aren’t going to tolerate anything less than that.” Decorated by Miss Pixie Windsor of Miss Pixie’s on 14th Street herself, Crazy Aunt Helen’s décor is whimsical with bright green and purple accents throughout, cherry blossom wallpaper in the same bright colors, and white Windsor chairs. Soon, there will be vintage prints, mirrors and works by local artists gracing the walls, making the two stories feel homey and hospitable. Adding to the playful vibe are mismatched vintage plates and kitschy coffee mugs. The upstairs will feature the Peacock Room — a “place to show off your feathers,” Mayson promises — with an upright piano already in place on a small stage and plans for performances by local cabaret singers, improv troupes and standup comedians. The vintage peacock décor wasn’t yet up on the walls, but will be soon. Mykie describes his approach to cooking as “fresh, fun and flavorful,” and today he serves up all three with aplomb. The steak seitan with vegan au jus was flavorful, juicy and yes, meaty. Served with seared maitake mushrooms and crispy potatoes with a garlicky, creamy toum, the entrée may make even the most ardent carnivore drool. The mac and cheese with shredded sharp cheddar and Gruyère was a gooey delight, and the microgreens and pickled onions sprinkled on top offered a crunch and a burst of acidic tang.
“You should only be cooking with love. You put more attention into it when you put your love into it. That’s why I am always dancing in the kitchen, because that’s how I share the love, y’all.” The buttermilk pancake was pillowy — thick, airy, dreamy — with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar, maple syrup and fresh brown sugar whipped cream. “There’s going to be something for everyone and we want the restaurant to be a safe space for everyone — and that includes the food,” Moll says. “We want everyone to be able to find something delicious. There will be some really fun vegan options. Earlier today, we were fermenting the non-dairy yogurt. It’s taking those extra steps to put the love into all the food.” The local love extends to as many of the food and drink vendors as possible. Thor Cheston of Right Proper created the draft beer program with local breweries on draft, and Valenzuela designed the signature cocktail program featuring local spirits: Filibuster bourbons and whiskeys, Cotton & Reed and Thrasher’s rums, Green Hat Gin, and Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye. Much of the produce will come from Little Wild Things Farm in Northeast D.C. and Miller Farm in Maryland, and meats will come from Roseda Farms in Maryland, among other providers. For the vegetarians, there will be a savory gatherer’s pie with black lentils replacing minced meat and vegan crab cakes made from shredded lion’s mane mushrooms, amongst other goodies. There will be Southern cooking galore, but Moll is looking for delicious and healthy substitutes whenever possible, hoping to feed the soul while caring for the body. This care extends to his staff. “The restaurant industry can be very horrible,” Moll concedes when sharing some negative experiences of his past. “It can be very racist, sexist [and] homophobic, and [it’s important] to create a safe space for people — like I have taken [it] upon myself to learn Spanish.” He also knows the hours are long, the work is physically demanding and kitchen staff can burn out quickly, so Moll promises to pay attention when someone seems off, give a prep cook a half-day on their daughter’s birthday or send them home early if they are dealing with a migraine. Moll believes that emotions — whether positive or negative — pass from cooks into the dishes, so happy cooks who are treated with respect and love create better meals. “You should only be cooking with love. You put more attention into it when you put your love into it. That’s why I am always dancing in the kitchen, because that’s how I share the love, y’all.” Crazy Aunt Helen’s will open in July, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on Wednesday through Monday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Different themed nights will be offered upstairs. Crazy Aunt Helen’s: 713 8th St. SE, DC; 202-750-8140; crazyaunthelens.com // @crazyaunthelens DISTRICT FRAY | 23
WORDS BY MICHAEL LORIA | PHOTO BY RICH KESSLER PHOTOGRAPHY
DISTRICT FRAY | 25
DRINK After 15 months without going out, the crush of bargoers gathering outside old haunts and those opening for the first time has been a sight to see. But whether opening back up or inviting patrons for the first time, many are implementing progressive changes to better support their staff and the local community. One of the new spots building back better is Northeast newcomer Metrobar. Built around a retired Metro car, the venue celebrates what connects the District. Bar owners Jesse B Rauch and John Groth arrived at the idea over drinks a few years ago. They were talking about D.C. and what connects the city, and it so happened that Metro was coincidentally disposing of its 5000-series train cars. They secured one, and Groth called in third owner Matt Weaver to find a venue. Rauch and Groth know one another through the social sports scene: Rauch started District Karaoke, and Groth founded DC Bocce. Located off of the Metropolitan Branch Trail by the Rhode Island Avenue Metro stop in Edgewood, Metrobar opened near the ongoing Bryant Street development, which will add 1,500 residential units to the area and at least 35,000 square feet of retail — including Alamo Drafthouse and food hall The Bevy. The bar owners are mindful that the Bryant Street development will change the historically quiet neighborhood, but hope Metrobar can counter that by being a place to welcome all District residents and celebrate the local artisans, music and culture. They chose a bar for that reason, as it allows the most flexibility in terms of bringing the community together. There’s no kitchen onsite, but guests can expect food trucks, collaborations with culinary incubator Mess Hall and ultimately, to order from The Bevy directly via a QR code at their individual table. The venue has a sit-where-you-like atmosphere, between the picnic tables, standing barrels, cabanas and eponymous Metro car. It holds 499 people, including 50 in the Metrocar, which will also have a bar. A shipping container on the other end of the space houses another bar. Based on guest responses at pop-ups, beverage director Rich Sterling’s menu is cocktail-focused. This plays to his strengths as he comes to Metrobar from D.C. standout Serenata, located inside Latin market La Cosecha. Led by beverage director Andra “AJ” Johnson, Serenata was recently featured on an Esquire list of the 27 best bars in America. Before that, he also worked at Burmese restaurant Thamee on H Street. In addition to three draft beers, several canned beers, three wines and two nonalcoholic options, the menu includes six house cocktails like the Red Line Rickey, a take on D.C.’s signature cocktail featuring One Eight District Made Gin, Don Ciccio & Figli Ambrosia, Luxardo Maraschino, DC Brau Black Cherry Hard Seltzer and lime. Almost all menu items, including the wines, are local. In collaboration with DMV Black Restaurant Week, they will highlight local Black craft distillers on upcoming menus. “I want to make it where, until our dying breath, we’re giving [Black craft distillers] access, celebrating the flavor profiles inherent in their spirits and telling their stories,” Sterling says. To avoid the “District Industry” Facebook-centric hiring process, they turned to DMV Black Restaurant Week to help with staffing. And in line with ongoing changes in the industry, all checks have an automatic 20% gratuity and the bar offers full and part-time staff health insurance. The mural work of D.C. artist Trap Bob is currently on view 26 | JULY 2021
“Our hope is to bring everyone together and create a really positive community vibe.” in the space, but the owners plan to invite other artists to work in other open areas. Trap is known for her vibrant, colorful work celebrating Black icons. For music, they will have regular go-go and jazz programs. Their commitment to feature only homegrown producers and artists, welcome all D.C. residents, and take better care of staff sounds idealistic — but that’s the point. They felt there was an opening for a D.C. bar that purposefully and thoughtfully celebrated what brings the District together. Rauch frames the project in terms of the Don’t Mute DC movement that started in 2019, when residents at a condo building on U Street filed a noise complaint against a nearby Metro PCS playing go-go music. It led to actions such as a pending Don’t Mute DC city council bill, which would make go-go the official music of the city. But, in looking around the city, Rauch and his partners saw an opportunity for providing a community space that made an effort to serve not just incoming community members but those already there. Positive examples they note include Howard Theatre and nearby City-State Brewing. “We’ve made it a point to meet with the existing groups in the area and come in as someone who’s welcoming of everyone here,” Rauch says. Already, the co-owners say whatever ideas they had about the space have already been transformed by the response they’ve heard from nearby residents and guests. Rauch adds, “Our hope is to bring everyone together and create a really positive community vibe.” Metrobar: 640 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; metrobardc.com // @metrobardc
Matt Weaver, John Groth, Rich Sterling + Jesse B Rauch (in the train). Photo courtesy of subjects.
Summer is finally here, and as Covid protocols begin to relax, venues are opening their doors again and new events are popping up around the D.C. area. It’s a welcome change for a city eager to socialize and experience live performances again. Vinyl-only DJ nights, an important part of the District’s nightlife, are beginning to make their return, too. We spoke with area DJs about their experiences performing in the area, what makes vinyl special, their favorite clubs, bars and other venues for spinning records, and other ways area music lovers can enjoy vinyl this summer — from radio shows to record collecting. The DMV is home to an eclectic variety of creative DJs who play a diverse range of music. Sun Kim, who goes by Sally Go Round when DJing, says, “The vinyl scene is pretty solid depending on what type of music you’re into. You can easily find nights featuring all types of music. Whatever you want to explore, there’s a DJ or night for you.” Les Talusan, who goes by Les The DJ, began DJing in the Philippines before moving to the D.C. area in the late ‘90s, where she continues to spin records. “I was already DJing in the city when my friend told me about the First Ladies DJ Collective,” Talusan says. First Ladies was the first all-women DJ collective in D.C., which started up in the early 2000s. Talusan invited Kim to join soon after.
While First Ladies is no longer active, former members still DJ, and the collective’s ethos is reflected in vibrant, community-oriented venues, DJ events and experiences around the city. DJ Geena Marie, a DMV local born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, started DJing around 2014 at the Mousai House Collective, which held shows and made space for artists of all kinds in the former Union Arts building at 411 New York Ave. “It’s been seven years, and I’ve just been growing from there,” she says. “Right now, since things are opening back up, I’m at Eaton Hotel, Hill Prince [and spinning at] various events around the city.” Vinyl has the power to turn people into music devotees. Suresh Abeywickrema’s love of records kickstarted started his extensive DJ career in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Going by Dr. J on the turntables, he eventually launched the first-ever live dance radio show in Sri Lanka. After moving to D.C. last fall, he’s now getting to know the community. “I’ve been so long in the scene elsewhere,” he says. “Here, I feel like I’m starting fresh.” For Abeywickrema, records were irresistible from an early age. “The beauty of vinyl got to me. This thing turning on a platter was something to watch and enjoy. From [then] on, it’s been a long journey.”
LEFT PAGE (TOP TO BOTTOM). Les The DJ + DJ Geena Marie. Photos courtesy of subjects. RIGHT PAGE. Suresh Abeywickrema. Photo courtesy of subject.
DISTRICT FRAY | 29
MUSIC He says one of vinyl’s best-known qualities is its “warm, analog sound.” “It’s the closest thing to a live band playing,” he adds. It’s not just the great sound that makes records so special: Vinyl-only events offer a unique experience every night. “What you can get out of vinyl-only nights is exposure to music you might not otherwise have an opportunity to encounter,” Kim says. DJ Geena Marie adds, “Vinyl is the foundation of DJing. [We] get [our] records [and] crates together, go out and make people party. With vinyl, those parties tend to be more focused because what you bring is what you can play. The audience has to trust the DJ and know they’re going to play well.” It can be a special experience for the DJ, too. “With vinyl, you have to dig in the crate [and] feel what the next track should be,” Abeywickrema says. “From an artistic point of view, there’s a certain magic that happens when you feel that next right song without going through a screen.” D.C. residents looking for a night of excellent vinyl music can find several opportunities now, and more are likely to follow as venues start booking new shows and reestablishing recurring DJ nights. “I’m looking forward to attending vinyl DJ nights in person, such as Biff Bang Pow at Slash Run and I Dig Your Mind at Showtime, and other nights at the reopened Neptune Room,” Kim says. She also notes that she’s planning to reunite with Talusan and DJ Laura Lopez for their DJ night, Punk Soul Sisters. DJ Geena Marie says she’s looking forward to having the opportunity to express herself creatively and get back to the fun of live experiences. “[I’m excited to] play gigs where I sound like me and the audience is connecting with me, [and I’m] able to play the music I love.” The opportunity to hear vinyl isn’t limited to D.C.’s nightlife. It can be found in some of the city’s most iconic places. “I’m looking forward to working at museums again,” says Talusan, who played regularly at the National Gallery of Art before the pandemic. The REACH at the Kennedy Center is also offering live music and DJ events through its Millennium Stage programming. And for folks who aren’t quite ready to be out and about yet, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy vinyl from home. “Support your local record store,” Talusan says. “Som Records is right here [on 14th Street], and my top favorite is the only woman-owned record store in the DMV — Sonidos!” Abeywickrema agrees, noting, “One of the first things I started doing here was looking for vinyl shops, and I came across some amazing people and places like HR Records on Kennedy Street.” Kim adds, “A lot more music gets released, or rereleased, in vinyl now, which is great for collectors who prefer to own music in this format.” Radio is another great option for folks who want to hear great local DJs but are taking socializing more slowly. DJ Geena Marie’s “50/50 FM” show through Eaton Hotel’s radio station runs from 6-8 p.m. every other Tuesday. Talusan also plays sets through Eaton on her show “Bahala Na.” “It’s Tagalog for ‘Que sera, sera,’” she says of her radio show. “Whatever I can come up with, that’s what I will play.” DJs encourage people to do what they feel comfortable with. And as always, remember that while you’re having fun, DJs spinning records are working hard. Give them their space (while Covid is subsiding, it’s still a crucial safety concern) and keep the requests at home. “Go with an open mind and enjoy the records the DJ has spent time and care selecting to play for you,” Kim says. “Ask the DJ about what they’re playing and discover an artist or song you never knew about but find that you love.” And most importantly, she says, “Never try to touch the DJ’s records!” As the summer unfolds, we’re sure to see more parties, events and opportunities to hear the magic of vinyl in person with friends and loved ones. It’s another great way to (safely) reconnect after a year of uncertainty, show up for the amazing local DJs who call the DMV home, discover new music and have fun doing it. Follow DJ Geena Marie @djgeenamarie, Les Talusan @lestalusan and Sun Kim @sally_go_round on Instagram. 30 | JULY 2021
Vinyl-Only Events EATON HOTEL + WILD DAYS Learn more about vinyl nights and Eaton Radio events at Eaton Hotel and rooftop bar Wild Days at eatonworkshop. com and wild-days-dc.com, respectively. 1201 K St. NW, DC; eatonworkshop.com // @eatonworkshop
SLASH RUN Learn more about Biff Bang Pow vinyl night and other events at Slash Run at slashrun.com. 201 Upshur St. NW, DC; slashrun.com // @slashrundc
OTHER SPOTS TO CHECK OUT Hill Prince: 1337 H St. NE, DC; hillprince.com // @hillprincebar Neptune Room: 5405 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; fb.com/neptuneroomdc // @neptuneroomdc Showtime: 113 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC; fb.com/showtimebardc // @showtimebar
Vinyl Radio + Recorded Sets
Listen to DJ Geena Marie’s “50/50 FM” show at 5050fm.com. For Les the DJ’s “Bahala Na,” stay tuned at mixcloud.com/eatonradio. DJ Laura Lopez plays a vinyl session for Barrelhouse Radio at barrelhouseradio. com every first Monday of the month at 3 p.m. EST. Find Lopez at mixcloud.com/ djlauralopez. Listen to DJ Sally Go Round at mixcloud.com/sallygoround.
Featured Vinyl Shops HR Records: 702 Kennedy St. NW, DC; homerulerecords.com // @hrrecords Som Records: 1843 14th St. NW, DC; somrecordsdc.com // @somrecordsdc Sonidos!: 11011-B Baltimore Ave. Beltsville, MD; sonidosmusicshop.com // @sonidos.musicshop
CURATORS OF STYLE 30 LOCALS REDEFINE D.C.
hat’s emerging in the District following 2020 transcends the collective appreciation for the city’s resilience. There’s a creative energy bursting at the seams, driven by a new wave of innovative voices eager to redefine D.C.’s identity. The worlds and ideas of muralists, fashion designers, architects, DJs, models, choreographers, bartenders and more are increasingly intersecting in the nation’s capital. The new normal is anything goes — especially with style and self-expression. We spoke with some of the influential locals curating the city’s evolving aesthetic and reimagining its future.
INTERVIEWS COMPILED BY NICOLE SCHALLER
Fine Art Photographer | Owner of Bad Candy Art Gallery What D.C. style means to you Honestly, I think D.C. style is pretty stifled. Most of the people here work 8 to 6 jobs and can’t really express their personal style because office attire bleeds into their normal life. There are very few boutiques that curate unique fashion. It is even harder to find style if you are a dude. Style icon and/or Inspiration My style icon will forever be Justin Bobby from “The Hills.” If you know, you know. Wardrobe essential Everyone should have a pair of cut-off jean shorts that they never wash. The dirtier they get, the better they look and over time they form to your butt. If they get smelly or too loose fitting I recommend jumping into a pool or the ocean. Rad shorts should only be washed in a rad way. Personal style I would describe my style as punk but not so rock. I like to wear harness boots [and] thick steel jewelry. I rock a cliche artist man bun and probably some oversized black vintage shirt. But I still like to find reasons to wear a custom fitted suit. It took me 28 years to finally get one, so I wear it every chance I get. @thebruceallen // badcandy.us
Owner + Principal of DesignCase What D.C. style means to you When I think of D.C. style, I think about the architecture [and] interior [design]. D.C.’s style is fresh: there is something beautiful about the contrast of the historic buildings with the new modern interiors, which give the city an old European feel where historical architecture meets modern interiors. D.C. style means a blending of the past, present and future. We are now seeing the lovely transition that is starting to happen with more contemporary modern materials meeting the historic fabric that is already here, which really livens the city. Style icon and/or inspiration Luis Barragán. His work is amazing and stands the test of time. Luis is a Mexican architect and engineer whose work is very formbased. He is also a master of color. His work [has] white walls with a pink background and a red accent. [It’s] simplistic and beautiful in such an elegant way. His work gives off an intangible feeling of elegance that is constantly in the back of my mind. 32 | JULY 2021
Wardrobe essential I am a very simplistic dresser, so my one essential everyone must have in their closet is a really good pair of jeans. Personal style My personal style and design sense aren’t necessarily aligned. My personal style is very minimal. I am a T-shirt and jeans or sweater and jeans person. My wardrobe doesn’t get complicated. I stay away from patterns and keep a clean, neutral and minimal aesthetic. When it comes to the aesthetic of our work, I tend to base the design on the aesthetic and vision of the client. We take in everything we can from the client and get inside their brains so the final product portrays their independent style or brand. If you were to look at DesignCases’ projects, you would see an array of aesthetics, from maximalist to rustic, to modern — it truly depends on the client and what they are trying to achieve. @designcasellc // designcasellc.com
Curator + Project Manager at JAB What D.C. style means to you People have been coming to D.C. from all over the world for generations. What makes this city’s style so great is that you have food, art, clothing, music and institutions that invite you to experience so many cultures. I love seeing Laotian restaurants with murals by [Loatian artist] Golden Rabbit Silent Monkey or the Indonesian influence in the murals by D.C. native MISS CHELOVE. What D.C. does pretty well is make room for a variety of huge mural projects — from the flair of POW! WOW! DC and artists like No Kings Collective to the historically minded murals all along U Street celebrating the rich history of Black culture in this city. Style icon and/or inspiration An artist whose visual and personal style I always admired was [Jean-Michel] Basquiat. I remember seeing an image of him in a crisp suit and tie juxtaposed with a huge canvas of his work behind him. I love the combination of high-brow and low-brow, of clean lines and chaos. A current artist with wild style and flair is my guy MADSTEEZ in New York. He is as bright and beautiful as his paintings. Here in D.C., two artists/creatives whose style I’m constantly impressed by are Pierre Edwards (District Dodger) and Curry Hackett. Those dudes are polished. Wardrobe essential I am a huge jacket person. Everyone should own a black jean jacket (preferably adorned with pins and buttons) and a midthigh wool coat with the collar popped. Beyond that, you have to own at least one pair of colorful Vans.
FIRST PAGE. Justine Swindell. Photo by Farrah Skeiky. RIGHT PAGE. Clockwise from top. Michelle Bove. Jason Bowers. Bruce Allen. Photos courtesy of subjects.
DISTRICT FRAY | 33
CULTURE Personal style Hemingway-meets-Tony Hawk. I love my Donegal [tweed] wool jacket, but I’m in my element wearing a baseball cap and T-shirt with my friend’s logo or artwork on display. Always hustle for your friends. The bit of Californian in me that’ll never die is my obsession with Vans. All that aesthetic meshes well with my professional vibe. As a curator and project manager working with a variety of clients, I need to pull off a suit as well as a shortsleeve button-up and jeans. Working on festivals and pop-up events surrounded by so many cool creatives means I need to be able to wear dust and paint — [and] look good doing it. @jasonabowers
Founder + Owner of Zarah Burstein Creative What D.C. style means to you Currently, it’s an exciting time to be in the District, as the city’s style coming out from the pandemic is brand new: from how people dress [to the] design, art, culture and aesthetic. With events in D.C., half the room is wearing strapless ballgowns and the other half are wearing slip dresses with chunky heels and bright red lips. There’s a shift culturally to looks we would see in New York, Paris, London or LA. There is a new cool girl vibe with sequins, feathers and rhinestone belts. It’s no longer about the perfect little clutch and black gown. I think the crux is not to take yourself […] or fashion too seriously. It’s always important to challenge yourself, have fun, try new things, take risks and go for that colorful party dress. Style icon and/or inspiration I get inspiration from ‘50s and ‘60s style icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Jackie Onassis, Twiggy, Grace Kelly and Eddie Sedgwig. I also love the looks from ‘90’s style icons Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and Kate Moss. My fashion philosophy is getting dressed should be easy and not to overthink it. The goal is to get the nod of approval from a girlfriend, but not to get an eye-roll from my fiancé. Wardrobe essential Choosing my one wardrobe staple is like choosing only one place to travel to on my bucket list — impossible for me. But my favorite time to dress for is night. My closet is filled with dresses from short to long and sequined to feathered, [as well as] jewelry and fun heels. My go-to for unique new finds locally is Hu’s in Georgetown and Mindy Lam. And of course, a wardrobe isn’t complete without a hairstyle and color every few months by Jerome Obry and Lacey Obry. Personal style My style is tailored, feminine and classic, yet elegant and daring. I love pops of bright color, prints and wearing things I don’t see on everyone else. I’m really excited about discovering and wearing emerging designers, especially [those focused on being] sustainable and eco-friendly. My aesthetic reflects my fanfare of travel, culture and art. Because I work within events, marketing, design and decor, what’s needed [in terms of] style for each workday depends on what is on the calendar and what part of each creative project I am working on. I find it’s important to dress for what comes to you each day. @zarahbursteincreative // zb-creative.org 34 | JULY 2021
TIARA CHAMELEON + SAIGE ELISE
Fashion Stylists | Vintage Curators
What D.C. style means to you Chameleon: D.C. style to me is both conservative and unapologetic — a healthy blend of both. It encompasses the traditional aspects of fashion while pushing the narrative and trending in a lane of its own. Elise: D.C. style represents “business and hidden corners.” [It’s] the land where suits and ties reign supreme, and [where] I see a lot of poise and elegance. But then, if you know where to go, or ask around, there is an underground world here as well with very fun and eclectic fashionistas behind these hidden corners. Style icon and/or inspiration Chameleon: Grace Jones is and will forever be the artist that inspires my step. She is fierce and incomparable. She’s the ultimate muse, a walking inspiration — and has mastered the art and balance of androgyny at a level most could never deliver. Her unapologetic attitude is what appeals to me first, and then [her] style as it compliments her natural energy. Elise: Jimi Hendrix. I have always resonated with the ‘70s, and for me, Jimi was such a stylistic vibe. If I had a day to sit and organize his closet, I would be at peace and certainly come up on some amazing vintage. Wardrobe essential Chameleon: Everyone should have a classic black leather jacket. It’s classic, timeless and ages with grace. Elise: [I’ve] always been a tomgirl at heart — pants over everything. For me, it’s always going to be the perfect pair of blue jeans. Personal style Chameleon: As a chameleon, I naturally represent a variation of styles as the aesthetic is ever-changing. My style is a reflection of my mood and travels. It’s cultured sophistication with an edge. Fashion is art, and I am a walking mannequin. I wear the clothes — not the other way around. Elise: I certainly consider my style to be an “international, around-the-way girl” [laughs]. I just love traveling overseas, experiencing other cultures and seeing all the different types of styles and aesthetics. At the same time, I love the amazing fashion we have right here at home. Fashion is everywhere in this world. I appreciate it and typically, my style is always reflective of some kind of global yet close-to-home element. @vintagefusion, @saimar.shop + @1984vconceptstore // 1984v.co + saimar.shop
Founder + Creative Direction at CHRIS CARDI, Inc. | Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Billy Reid What D.C. style means to you D.C. style is having the savvy to navigate various social circles and doing so in a way that is authentic to your persona. Being able to show up and show off your personal style at a business meeting to brunch to [sitting] in balcony seats at the Kennedy Center to bouncing around Broccoli City Fest is the embodiment of D.C. style.
RIGHT PAGE. Clockwise from top. Chris Clayton. Photo courtesy of subject. Zarah Burstein. Photo by Mynor Ventura. (From left to right). Tiara Chameleon and Saige Elise. Photo by Roderick Mitchell // @cutdro.
DISTRICT FRAY | 35
Roquois. Photo by Interstellar Studio.
Jason Bowers. Photo courtesy of subject.
DISTRICT FRAY | 37
CULTURE Style icon and/or inspiration My paternal grandfather is my premier style icon. His style evolved with the times — from emulating the jazz greats of the early to mid-20th century to embracing the rise of ‘80s era sportswear. In terms of celebrity [icons], Lenny Kravitz is my go-to. Lenny inspired me to take the leap to women’s denim in my early 20’s. I purchased a pair of DKNY stretch bootcut jeans in 2004 and have been shopping women’s collections ever since. Also, his ability to accessorize effortlessly has [made] a huge impact on my style. I’m nowhere close to doing it how he does it, but hopefully, like Lenny, my style will get better with time. Wardrobe essential Brogues. That goes for any and everyone. The versatility of a well-made brogues with a leather sole is worth the investment. I recently picked up a cognac pair from Soulier in Georgetown right on Wisconsin Avenue — [definitely] go see Hamid and his team. [They offer] incredible customer service to match the outstanding selection of fine Italian-made shoes. Personal style It’s like a paella — lots of interesting flavors, colors and textures. Spending time as a kid in Philadelphia, growing up in Miami and living a good deal of my adult life in D.C., I have come to incorporate those experiences into my style identity. There’s the splash of street with a nice dose of dapper [and] a sprinkle of rakish here and there. Add a hint of rock star stirred up with a healthy serving of classic Americana, and boom! That’s my style. @thedistrictbloke + @chris_cardi // chriscardi.com
Painter | Muralist | Sculptor What D.C. style means to you D.C. style is indicative of the colorful, cosmopolitan and historical foundation of our glorious city. We live in the capital of the world, where decisions are made that have an immediate global impact. The Gucci loafers on the Senate floor and the New Balance 900 series of the streets carry the same cultural weight. D.C. style is exclusivity personified. We have always been and strive to be the flyest [and] best-dressed, whether it be comprised of the most expensive articles or a fashionista’s assemblage of Morton’s meets Gucci. Style icon and/or inspiration In D.C., one is forced to create one’s own style, usually from a high-end, popular culture base. D.C. politics permeates our approach to style, sports, cars, music, etc. We are competitive to the core and must be number one. I was highly influenced by gangster movies and the Black and white elite. We use name brands stores as our creative palette: Britches Great Outdoors, Racquet & Jog, Moss Brown, Madness, and Hugo Boss, to name a few. Our outfits may take five stores to complete one look and your colors better match, or you [are] immediately reduced to being a bama. Wardrobe essentials Shoes define your style in D.C. Your personality defines your staple. A true Washingtonian would never tell you where they 38 | JULY 2021
procured their wears. D.C. is small and forces you to do your homework on what you wear. The ultimate compliment is “Where did you get that from?” Personal style Color and accessories define me as an artist and influencer: an ascot, pocket watch, scarf, camo pants, high-end jeans and shoes. My dog, a rare Tosa Inu, even completes my look at times. I never want to be typecast and the malleability of my style fits any given situation. From the White House to the go-go, I hope to create the style and monuments that propel us into statehood. It’s not the hat. It’s the tilt. @jayfcoleman // jayfcoleman.com
NANCY DALY + REX DELAFKARAN
Interdisciplinary Artists | Co-founders of but, also What D.C. style means to you Both: Though we know there are a lot of people doing very interesting work in D.C. in terms of design and marketing, we have found D.C. leans heavily toward a buttoned-up aesthetic — and there is a prioritizing of that aesthetic as the only way to be professional. We prioritize authenticity in our aesthetics and want to lead by example [by] showing people you can both be a professional expert and authentic to your personality and where you’re coming from. Our personality is a little goofy. You don’t know until you try it, and we tried it and it’s going pretty well. Style icon and/or inspiration Delafkaran: My style icon falls somewhere between Leonardo DiCaprio in “Romeo + Juliet,” a business casual man from 1994, and Zoë Kravitz. Daly: Rex. We all know she’s the only reason I’m being included in this interview. Wardrobe essential Delafkaran: An oversized-to-you T-shirt. I think a good big shirt can turn a day around. I always feel like I’m getting away with something [when I wear one]. Also, tall socks. Daly: A one-piece item that seems like effort but is actually none. [I’m a fan of] low effort, high impact. Both: But, also a “but, also” shirt (available online). Personal style Delafkaran: I apply a big-small, small-big strategy — never small-small and sometimes big-big. I want to be perceived as having no body, but also hot. Daly: A trendy, young grandpa: lots of cardigans, collared shirts [and] glasses, but also skinny jeans. Both: With but, also’s aesthetic, we aim to encapsulate our offthe-rails energy, the broadening of what a gallery/store space can be and what an artist-run business can look like. We want to be less visually alienating than other gallery spaces so that people outside the art world feel more welcome. And really, an entire aesthetic has come out of that approach. @but___also // but-also.com
RIGHT PAGE (FROM LEFT). (From left to right) Nancy Daly + Rex Delafkaran. Photo courtesy of subjects. Jay Coleman. Photo by Shiloh Coleman.
DISTRICT FRAY | 39
Music Producer | Bartender at Imperfecto What D.C. style means to you As an Italian, it was hard for me to understand D.C. style at first. It was very ordinary [and] bland. I noticed people living in this city were seeking for their own style to be showcased. As an emigrant, my style is unique. I have always been fascinated by the mixture of culture D.C. has to offer. Everybody is different in D.C. and that’s what makes it cool. Be yourself became the must, and now that the city has grown with [its] citizens, you can see way more European influences in it. It is a beautiful, colorful city that finally can showcase [its] style. Style icon and/or inspiration As an artist (music producer and musician), I have a very unique way of dressing and [styling] myself, starting with my unique mustache. [I’m] always looking for something unique and out of the ordinary, because I found my own way of [being]. I notice most of the people looking at me appreciate how I dress and style my artistic profile. Wardrobe essential Everybody should have [in their wardrobe] at least one thing that represents them, like a T-shirt they [had] custom-made or a jacket that represents their internal emotion. Many items I wear, I bought around the world touring [or] custom-made somehow, adding my unique touch to it. Unfortunately, the D.C. area does not offer [clothing] shops that really represent [my style], so [I’m] always looking for something I can get online. Personal style My style is hard to describe because I follow what fits better first and what makes me feel comfortable, like using [a] classic color [like] black, white [and] in-between. I always like to match colorful contrast to it, as long as it is not too much. Too much, and it can be overwhelming for me. I like to say my style is cool and out of the ordinary, [and] definitely influenced by the music and culture that surround me. @enea_diotaiuti + @iamloudr // iamloudr.com
Owner of Art of Noize
What D.C. style means to you To me, D.C. style is sophisticated and fly. This city has a unique mix of government, power brokers and creatives. It’s like oil and vinegar: They never really mix but can compliment each other when necessary. When I think of D.C. style, I see dark suits and patterned socks. [It’s] nothing too crazy, but enough to be interesting when done right. Style icon and/or inspiration My style icon is Jidenna. The local art icons whose work I admire are Mehari Sequar and Jarvis DuBois. Wardrobe essential Everyone should have a few tailored sport coats they can rotate: two for business or professional settings, and two for going to dinner or a night on the town. 40 | JULY 2021
Personal style Baby boomer dad with Marty McFly shoes @artofnoizedmv // www.artofnoizedmv.com
Founder of Little Bird Creative What D.C. style means to you Our city can often feel very grey and navy, though when you peek behind the art scene curtain, you will find some of the most creative minds in fashion right here in D.C. To witness a sea of stylish folks, head to any pop-up gallery, dance party or Sofar concert. There are also so many talented local makers whose goods you can find at Concept 31/M in Georgetown, Steadfast Supply, Common Thread, Salt & Sundry, Union Market and Eastern Market. Style icon and/or inspiration I have always been deeply influenced by my travels — the colors, textures, architecture and landscapes. From the bright saris of India to the patterns in South Africa to the colors of the desert sunset, each memory inspires my overall aesthetic. For an icon, I’d have to say Tracee Ellis Ross. Her use of color, texture and overall structure of the pieces within her wardrobe is unmatched. Wardrobe essential I’d say anything that expresses your personality. Whether it is a vintage purse from Common Thread DC, pebble drop earrings from Romy Studio, a ring from Kicheko Goods, or a great pair of secondhand jeans from Crossroads (R.I.P.) or Current Boutique. I build the base of my wardrobe with high quality neutrals (mostly Aritzia or secondhand from Poshmark or thrift stores) and then grab additional items that call out to me as I travel or peruse local shops. Personal style I believe our bodies serve as our daily canvas to express ourselves. Clothing and accessories tell stories of time, interests, mood and more. I was expressive from a really young age, matching polka dots with stripes because they were in the same color family. Now, I essentially do the same thing with what I fondly call my palette, a spectrum of warm neutrals to rich earth tones, which defines what I’ve purchased over the past three years. Two years ago, I put together a mood board via Figma and purged my closet of anything that didn’t feel like the “me” I wanted to bring to the world. @littlebird.creative // littebird-creative.com
Co-founder of Open Ventures | Partner at Residents Café & Bar What D.C. style means to you D.C. style for me is found in the moment. I let my surroundings guide me. To that end, I’ve always been drawn to things that tell a story, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with this city. D.C. is a place with such a unique identity [and] rich culture, filled with a beautiful kaleidoscope of people, art, history, architecture, styles and ways of life. Adding to this mix the collective influences from transients like me, you get a city teeming with classic staples and modern flares, making it beautiful and different.
RIGHT PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP). Amanda Gann. Photo by Daniel Stewart // @vryheidcollective. David Jack. Adrian Ferguson. Enea Diotaiuti. Photos courtesy of subjects.
DISTRICT FRAY | 41
Mya Price. Photo courtesy of subject.
Rich Rocket. Photo courtesy of subject.
DISTRICT FRAY | 43
CULTURE Style icon and/or inspiration I can’t point to just one icon. That’s just not fair. However, an icon who has the rare ability to transcend genre, which I highly admire, is Virgil Abloh. The ability to be at the apex of fashion, architecture, art and music is amazing. Fun fact: Virgil actually did a live DJ set here in D.C. at a secret warehouse show thrown by Nü Androids. Talk about style — you should have been there. Wardrobe essential For me, every man, woman and child should have a suit made just for them. There is nothing quite like a tailored suit that can be worn [with] more versatil[ity] than you think — [it’s] easily adaptable to both relaxed and more formal looks. Tailor & Bond here in the District is my go-to custom maker of threads, handcrafted shoes and leather bags. Next to that, you’ll likely find me at Residents Cafe & Bar wearing a white linen shirt, light-wash denim jeans rolled at the bottom and trainers, which are a timeless look and very JFK. Personal style It’s time-and-place, with the common thread of quality and being a bit different. My overall aesthetic is really found in my love for treasure hunting. Any kind of small shop, brand or even conversation can be an opportunity for finding something dope — whether it’s finding a classic white linen shirt, a pair of ridiculous Yankee Gucci slip-ons or a cap that feels just right. It’s about spending the time looking and being curious. When I set out looking for one thing, I never find it. The days I have no expectations are when I find the things I love. Put another way: I tend to spend way too much time in dressing rooms. @davidjack + @residentsdc // openventures.io + residentsdc.com
Multimedia Surrealist Collage Artist What D.C. style means to you In D.C., the city is our canvas and we occupy space as we see fit. From wheat-pasted art on utility boxes to elaborate dinosaur gardenscapes, you’re guaranteed striking visuals at every turn. Locals are getting hip to fast fashion’s destruction to our planet and are saying “No” to unethical shopping and textile waste through clothing swaps, thrift shopping and upcycling projects. Style icon and/or inspiration As a self-proclaimed thrift store treasure hunter, my style icons are the upcyclers, DIYers and thrifters transforming salvaged goods into sustainable fashion and works of art. Consumerism leads to environmental degradation and places emphasis on scarcity over abundance. SwapDC is my all-time favorite clothing swap organization in the city emphasizing the importance of communal exchange and mutual aid. Wardrobe essential If you’ve seen me out and about, there’s a good chance I was wearing a crop top. Max comfort and breathability for the win. No outfit is complete without a fun pair of earrings. My go-to pair is pterodactyl earrings from the brand Genuine Salamander made by local visual artist Rhythm Bowers (@pompo.ai). You can find her unique animal earrings at Femme Fatale DC [located at] 3409 Connecticut Ave. NW. 44 | JULY 2021
Personal style Central to my surrealist collage style is the splicing of disjointed images to portray and celebrate Black women as otherworldly. The primary aesthetic of my work is an island where negative space directs the viewer’s focus to a centralized collage composite of recycled paper material. My thrift-and-swap adventures mirror my creation process, [with] emphasis on mixed patterns and blocked colors. I’d describe my presentation of self as “reserved retro tomboy in street wear,” complemented by my signature Khadija Jahmila machete necklace. I never take it off. @khadija.jahmila // khadijajahmila.com
Record Collector | DJ Host of “Inner Ear Freakout” Radio Show on WFMU What D.C. style means to you I love the natural beauty of D.C. Rock Creek Park, with its many hiking trails, is probably my favorite place in the city. I think if we’re talking style and fashion, it’s really all over the place — like any big city. There are many niches to be found if you look hard enough. Style icon and/or inspiration I love the effortlessly low-key chic of Jean Seaburg in Breathless and the rock ‘n’ roll bohemian opulence of Jimi Hendrix. The Pretty Things, Grace Slick — all of the sixties psychedelic rockers had fantastic style. Fashion labels like Granny Takes a Trip, Biba and of course, Mary Quant, really broke the mold and set fashion free. Wardrobe essential Everyone needs a vintage denim jacket (or three) in their closet. Meeps in Adams Morgan and Dr K’s (by appointment only) are the best spots to find good vintage in the city. Personal style I like to think my personal style is a blend of Jane Birkin and Nigel Tufnel: a little bit feminine and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Occasionally, I turn it [up] to 11. @daisy.lacy // wfmu.org/playlists/IO
Dance Choreographer | Educator | Dance Film Maker | Curator | Performer What D.C. style means to you There is such dimensionality when thinking about style and the District. But I gravitate toward queer nightlife. I am inspired by dance and style as a performer and in becoming my queer self. Currently, [I’m] working on a performance collaboration with Robert Woofter of haus of bambi. I am excited to see the style of the work that will develop from our artistic development. I look forward to learning from a commissioned dance work from Dance Loft on 14 on the theme of social justice. I am delighted about how what we wear reflects ourselves while challenging perceptions of our queer dancing bodies.
RIGHT PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP). Daisy Lacy. Photo by Mark Zimin. Gabriel Mata. Photo by Jacob Hughes // @huejaxx. Khadija Jahmila. Photo by @reese.bland.
DISTRICT FRAY | 45
CULTURE Style icon and/or inspiration I look to the ‘70s disco era but specifically to the fearless genderfluid disco queen Sylvester. I see in their style radiant freedom, and that is the feeling that I would like to live in, share and manifest. Sequin and formfitting pieces is what I style myself in when going out. At the club, if I hear Sylvester, it is just serendipitous. Also, “Can’t Stop Dancing” by Sylvester is one of many songs that I highly recommend. Wardrobe essential Black Chelsea boots. They are just so versatile. I own six pairs of them. I use them when I perform, and I have seen them be styled throughout the year. There is a small business in La Cosecha (near Union Market) that sells leather goods. I have been meaning to look into the boots that they have. They certainly caught my eye. Aside from that, I shop at thrift stores often for the thrill and because it is an “eco-friendly but not perfect” alternative. Personal style My own style is in conversation with my gay identity and developing with queer theory. About 95% of the time, I wear all black. Aside from the artist in me, it is efficient and has a default sense of “styled.” My style is a constant process of exploration and becoming. I am gravitating towards ungendering my outlook on clothes and myself. I started with an initial step of shopping in the women’s section at thrift stores. It was a bit fear-inducing at first, but [now that I’m] comfortable with myself, I now look to any stores and all sections for things that [make me] look the best I can. I did have an instance at a nightclub hosted by @djlemz and @keenanorrdc called the Lost Birthday Club at DC9. Someone came up to me — I was wearing leather pants, black high-heel Chelsea boots and a gray sequin halter top — and asked, “Where did you get that top? Girls R’ Us?” That comment annoyed but also enlightened me about how I have to keep [pushing] beyond uncomfortable moments I may experience. Now, I would definitely inspire my queer and insecure younger self. In style, I see and experience it beyond the clothes we wear. @gabrielmatamoving // gabrielmatamovement.com
Vintage Plus Size Business Owner | Stylist | Blogger What D.C. style means to you I enjoy celebrating the power of color through my style. When I first moved to D.C. almost three years ago, I noticed a lack of bold pops of colors across the city. I would define D.C. style as a sea of opportunities to drive what makes a person look and feel better, but with more options for boldness and colorfulness. Through my love for color, I knew this would be a contribution I would bring to the city with the hopes of empowering and encouraging others to feel like they can do the same. Style icon and/or inspiration Iris Apfel, known for her fashionable aesthetic through bold colors and oversized accessories, in addition to her iconic signature glasses, will forever be my style icon. I have followed her journey for many years, and I love how unapologetic she is for how she showcases herself to the world through her magnetic sense of style.
46 | JULY 2021
Wardrobe essential Everyone should have one statement accessory in their wardrobe that speaks to their character, personality and signature style. Whether that accessory has been passed down from a significant family member or found in your favorite vintage store, we all deserve to carry a statement piece that celebrates us and speaks to how we want to show up in this world. For me, that’s [the] bold accessories I have been able to curate and send off to new homes through my D.C.-based vintage boutique, More Than Your Average. Personal style When I get dressed in the morning, I am ready to take on the world through my style. My style reflects who I am as a person and how I choose to represent myself in this world, and that is through colorful vintage pieces that have eccentric details, bold patterns, retro prints and out-of-the-box structures. When we look good, we feel good, and we can generate positive energy that impacts the way others feel. And when you make yourself feel good, you can create a friendlier environment. @morethanyouraverage // morethanyouraverage.com
Founder of Chocolate City’s Best | Organizer of Back to Black Pop-up | Co-founder + DO of Empowering the Diner What D.C. style means to you D.C. style to me means uniqueness — from the multicolored row homes to the comfy-chic style of the people. Here in D.C., it’s not a dress to impress city. It is more of a let me show you who I am sense of style and this is all done through clothing, the way your home is designed and more. Style icon and/or inspiration My style icon is Deniseea Taylor, known on Instagram as @chickenandchampagne. She is an entrepreneur out of New Orleans. She is unapologetically herself in all things. She brings the raw in her work and her fashion. She just encourages me to be myself at all times. Wardrobe essential I would say sunglasses that no one else can pull off. Usually, I find unique sunglasses at Eastern Market. Personal style My style is pretty simplistic. I really like one-pieces, may it be dresses, rompers [or] jumpsuits. My approach to cocktailing is also simplistic. I believe you only need about four ingredients for a delicious cocktail. I like to get straight to the point, and you can see that in all that I do. @kapri.possible // chocolatecitysbest.com
Creator | Visual Savant | Thrift Store Provocateur What D.C. style means to you I think D.C. style is a microcosm of the city: a blend of architecture, industry, business and pleasure. There are regions where the style is defined exclusively by the residents, but overall, D.C. style is definitive. It doesn’t follow trends. RIGHT PAGE (TOP TO BOTTOM). Mya Price. Kapri Robinson. Photos courtesy of subjects.
DISTRICT FRAY | 47
48 | JULY 2021
Warren Weixler. Photo courtesy of subect.
Hannah Strickland. Photo courtesy of subject.
DISTRICT FRAY | 49
CULTURE Style icon and/or inspiration My style influences are a very intriguing mixture. If I had to narrow it down to three influences, they would be Grace Jones (my ultimate), Kyle Barker (T.C. Carson’s character from the sitcom “Living Single”) and Duckie Dale (Jon Cryer in “Pretty in Pink”).
industries, become a new type of superhero, create my own aesthetic [and] be unapologetically me. @roquois // roquois.com
Wardrobe essential As an item, I would say a solid black pair of skinny denim or leather (pleather) pants. But as an idea, the one thing every wardrobe should have is a staple silhouette. [It’s about] understanding and creating the shape that best paints your presentation. With that, you can apply any piece to your wardrobe.
General Manager at Last Call Bar
Personal style My personal style could be defined as vintage flamboyance with a modern twist. Style is signature, and I believe my imprint tells the story of the development of me as Rich Rocket. @iamrichrocket // iamrichrocket.co
Singer | Songwriter | Superhero What D.C. style means to you D.C style means making your imagination reality. There is never “the occasion” because every day can be what you make it. Today is a day for high fashion at brunch, and tomorrow is a day for a superhero look at happy hour. We are the District of fashion. With D.C being such an international melting pot, we are privileged to experience and absorb style and culture from all over the world, [and then] remix and reinvent it. Style icon and/or inspiration I am inspired by so many leaders in fashion like Brett Alan Nelson and their creativity, and many artists like Janelle Monae and Kesh [who] bring their wildest dreams to life. My favorite style icon, who made an impact on me [in being] free in how I approached fashion, is Selena. From her baggy jeans look to her elaborate bustiers, she created her own lane in fashion and wasn’t afraid to incorporate culture and her own vision in an industry that is cookie cutter for many artists. She inspired me to just do me. Wardrobe essential Just one staple? That’s impossible. I am an over-the-top person inside and out. I recommend everyone have at least one elaborate gown, but accessories are key and can really take any look to the next level. I shop local for most of my unique looks and recommend that everyone should have things in their closet they purchased from local indie creatives. For dramatic gowns, I shop DiDomenico, a D.C./[Virginia]-based designer. For jewelry and accessories, the sky’s the limit with Trufacebygrace, another D.C.-based designer. Both [shops are] women-owned and operated. Personal style I would describe my personal style as superhero chic. I am a huge nerd/geek who creates pop music, cosplays, produces awardwinning fashion events [and] is all over the place with creativity, culture and style. I don’t like to be boxed in by trends and I love blending all of my worlds — from the way I style my hair to the fashion I wear. I walk my own path in life and in style. [I] hope to make a positive impact on the world through my various 50 | JULY 2021
What D.C. style means to you True D.C. style to me means non-conformity. D.C. is all about knowing the streets and quadrants, but true D.C. style is finding your own shoes to fill — both literally and figuratively. D.C. style is not salmon shorts, khakis and blue shirts, although we do welcome them. Style icon and/or inspiration An amalgamation of icons: Debbie Harry, Jean Michel Basquiat and Chrissie Hynde Wardrobe essential Polishable leather shoes Personal style Unfettered, sometimes tattered, always with red lipstick @rachelsergi // lastcallbardc.com
Interior Designer | Art Advisor What D.C. style means to you D.C. style is so much more than a navy blue pants suit and messenger bags. It is generally conservative, but when you take a minute, you can really pick up on how much thought someone put into getting dressed through the accessories and tailoring. I love that it’s socially acceptable to wear sneakers with everything because walking is a huge part of living in the capital. Style icon and/or inspiration As far as icons go, I need to shout out Saige Elise and Tiara Chameleon, stylists and founders of their respective brands Saimar Shop, 1984 V Concept Store and together, Vintage Fusion. These women are literal goddesses, curators and artists who are so fearlessly creative that it inspires me to be bolder with my fashion. Their curated vintage brands are sold at Common Thread by Swatchroom in the Union Market area. Wardrobe essential I would say a few incredible jackets go the mileage in any wardrobe. About two years ago, I invested in a structured black leather jacket from All Saints and putting it on is truly instant confidence. I had a white shorts suit made while I was in Hong Kong — mix in [a] blazer to upgrade an otherwise lazy T-shirt and jeans look. Personal style My style is polished, approachable and a little quirky. Working in the art and design field, I find myself most comfortable when I am wearing at least one piece that’s unexpected. I love mixing vintage leather pants with a trendy cropped Zara blouse or playing with new silhouettes as the seasons change but no trend will ever take away my allegiance to high-waist [styles]. @designhunger // designhunger.co
RIGHT PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP). Rich Rocket. Photo courtesy of subject. Roquois. Photo by Interstellar Studio. Rachel Sergi. Alex Stoller. Photos courtesy of subjects.
DISTRICT FRAY | 51
Digital Content Creator | Account Director at Creative Theory Agency What D.C. style means to you D.C. style is interesting. There is a large portion of people who choose to dress in a similar fashion and blend in with the crowd. While that’s not my vibe, I also recognize it helps those that want to elevate their style stand out in their uniqueness. So, to me, D.C. style and style in general means making your mark [and] how you want to be remembered. The way I dress alone has created connections and friendships with likeminded people I value — real recognizing real, you could say. Style icon and/or inspiration Funny enough, I’ve never really had one. While people consider me fashionable, I’ve never really seen myself as on trend. I don’t know what’s hot and what’s not at any point in time on the professional fashion scene. I just know what I like and the styles that suit me. I usually take to Instagram if I’m looking to get inspired, either by the creative people I follow or the pretty accurately targeted ads I get from various clothing brands (no shame). Wardrobe essential Black jeans. Point blank period. You can pair anything with black jeans. My favorite pair are from Madewell. Personal style My style is somewhere between athleisure (or a lot of days just full-on gym clothes) and a mix between casual/boho chic. My overall vibe is casual with an edge — the more capsule and simple I can make my wardrobe, the better. I like to work with less pieces that I can make many different outfit combinations. @heartbrkhannah // creativetheory.agency
Illustrator | Muralist
What D.C. style means to you I grew up in D.C., left for several years and returned, so I try to think of what’s timeless about this city’s style and how it’s different than other cities. In general, there is something inherently conservative about D.C. When I look around, I often feel style here is very uniform but with a twist of grit, prep, funk or glam — depending on the person. The way people add that twist is always fun to see. Style icon and/or inspiration Janet Jackson. Over the years, she has given us numerous iterations of effortless cool, and memorable style. If you look at the videos from songs on the albums “Rhythm Nation,” “Velvet Rope” and “Janet,” there are so many amazing and iconic looks. Wardrobe essential A go-to pair of jeans. I love all things denim for their utility, accessibility and style. I also love a good baseball cap. Currently, my favorite is from District of Clothing: It’s minimal, comfortable and has a great caption to add a unique stamp to my outfit. 52 | JULY 2021
Personal style My personal style aligns with how I describe my work as an artist: minimal, vibrant and bold. I’m a creative entrepreneur, working professional and mom with very little space, so I need the base of my life to be minimal, functional and comfortable. However, as a creative, my need for color, pattern and edge has to come out. That’s where I can play with mixing things up. @justineswindellar // justineswindell.com
Owner of the Cool Kids Vinyl What D.C. style means to you Our city has so many original styles, influences and brands that we can stand on our own in our own unique style. From the New Balances we wear to the go-go music we listen to, D.C.’s style is unique in the sense that we don’t have to draw inspiration from any other location or city but our own. Style icon and/or inspiration I wouldn’t say just as a style icon, but Ibn Jasper is a person I admire from afar [for] his style and [the] versatility in his craft. Being a designer, barber and creative, you see his influence in a lot of folks we look up to or hold in high regard. Wardrobe essential I promise this isn’t an endorsement, but any style of New Balance is a staple you should have in your wardrobe, whether your closet is casual or more business attire. Living in D.C., not only are they fashionable, [they’re] very comfortable. We do a lot of walking, running and biking in this city. Personally, I’m on my feet for at least eight hours of the day, so New Balances are the best shoe, being neutral in the basic styles [they offer], but also [as] a brand that collaborates with young [streetwear] brands. That can be very desirable. Personal style Style to me is all self-expression. How I’m feeling on any day can be represented through what I choose to wear that day. From my glasses to my socks to the pins on my hat, everything is intentional and a direct way to know how I feel. @talleyismajor + @coolkidsvinyl // coolkidsvinyl.com
ZSUDAYKA NZINGA TERRELL
Fine Artist | Curator | Art Educator
What D.C. style means to you I’m from the Midwest, which is a more laid-back style. D.C. is the epitome of high fashion to me. I really enjoy the formal wear scene here and the business attire. Seeing so many highly educated people representing their culture and personalities in suits at galas and church events is very interesting to me. I love being able to dress up to go places like art galleries. Style icon and/or inspiration Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” mixed with Olivia Pope from “Scandal” mixed with Lisa Bonet and “Coming to America”
RIGHT PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP). Justine Swindell. Photo by Farrah Skeiky. Hannah Strickland. Photo courtesy of subject. Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell. Photo by Akem Photography. Matthew Talley. Photo courtesy of subject.
DISTRICT FRAY | 53
Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell. Photo by Akem Photography.
54 | JULY 2021
Robert Woofter. Photo by Zachary Z Handler.
DISTRICT FRAY | 55
CULTURE Wardrobe essential It’s a tie between a great shoe and a great pair of earrings. Two of my favorite places for both are Vintage and Charmed in the Anacostia Arts Center and Helen Lolita, [which] makes custom accessories and probably half of my earring collection. In 2021, I think I would die without my collection of glasses.
Style icon and/or inspiration Even though I don’t think I could pull off his looks, I love the clothes that local rapper Born I Music wears in his music videos. We were fortunate to work together on a project many years ago, and that guy has so much swag with anything he wears.
Personal style People say I look like my paintings. I am definitely attracted to wearing loud and bright colors and mixes of patterns. I like to come into a room and stand out [with] my bold color and design choices. I have a collection of blazers and one day want to put out a line of specialty blazers. I used to want matching heels for the blazers, but now as a mom and artist on the go, I’m leaning toward sneakers. @zsudayka // terrellartsdc.com
Wardrobe essential I tend to let my paintings be the things in my life that are full of loud colors, but a staple I love that everyone should have: fitted short-sleeve button-down shirts. I look for ones with a fun pattern or pop of color, and you can pair them with pretty much anything. On the other side of the coin, for guys: tank tops. I recently got a very fun one over at Dunn Lewis that they designed in-house and will be buying a few more the next time I go over [there] to work on my bike.
What D.C. style means to you D.C. style is constantly changing and has a pulse you can’t quite put your finger on. There’s no one way to define D.C. style, which is part of what I find really inspiring. It’s an evolving sum of individuality. Style icon and/or inspiration As a photographer, I take notes from the people who step in front of my lens and are undeniably comfortable in their own skin. Their style glows from within. That energy is something that cannot be purchased or replicated, which is iconic through my eyes. Wardrobe essential A pair of jeans that makes you love your body a little more every time you slip them on. Personal style A blank canvas. Nine days out of 10 you can catch me in allwhite or all-black, especially on set at photoshoots. The style of my home and wardrobe creates negative space in my days which are then filled with color through my work. When I get dressed every day, I just want to feel good and be comfortable. @birch // photosbybirch.com
What D.C. style means to you Out-of-towners think D.C. is a stuffy town of plain-suited Feds, and while that used to be true, I’m always telling people how vibrant, fun and creative I believe D.C. is these days. I love everything from the scrappy DIY style aesthetic of somewhere like Hole in the Sky Collective, where I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in many art shows and a residency in 2019, to the long-running arts programming that DC Arts Center showcases. I also started riding motorcycles in the past few years (a bright red ‘90s era BMW is my current one), so I’ve really appreciated the style of that community. It’s not just black leather everywhere. 56 | JULY 2021
Personal style I dress pretty simply most of the time. If I’m at my studio, [I’m] in scrubby clothes I can get paint on. If I’m going out, it’s a little more composed with the aforementioned short-sleeve button-downs, and either shorts or fitted jeans. I do love some loud sneakers. These days, I’m wearing bright red Nike Pegasus Air 37s [and] the insane color combos of all the sneakers [by] Onitsuka Tigers. I spend a lot of time composing the psychedelic neon aesthetic of my paintings, so that’s where the majority of my brain’s style energy usually goes. @cavisconage // visconage.com
Principal + CEO of SWATCHROOM What D.C. style mean to you D.C. style is an adolescent searching for their true authenticity. There is a great juxtaposition of old meets new [and a] wide range of exploration. Develop a new hotel in a historic bank space, build a piece of contemporary architecture neighboring a federal building, pair fresh juice with a locally aged spirit or match a vintage shirt with a new clean pair of kicks. Style icon and/or inspiration I don’t just have one as sources of inspiration constantly change based on my curiosities. I am consistently drawn to people that speak their truth. I tend to frequent content on platforms like TedX, Creative Mornings and YouTube. I am currently keen on graphic artists’ work from the ‘50s and ‘60s, like Joseph Binder. Wardrobe essential Two for me: a well-cut vintage denim jacket and a crisp pair of white dress sneakers. Any vintage item can be found at our store Common Thread in the Union Market District. For white sneakers, I really like the all-white leather lows from Vans. Personal style My style is minimal with funk. Whether it be a fit, my home, a space or graphics. I really respond to a clean aesthetic with punches of color or character/story. @warrenweixler // swatchroom.com
RIGHT PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP). Birch Thomas. Photo by Julian Thomas. Warren Weixler. Photo courtesy of subect. Charlie Visconage. Photo by Jeff Ray.
DISTRICT FRAY | 57
Photo + Styling Credits
Director of haus of bambi
What D.C. style means to you D.C. is a creative powder keg, and I love it. Its style is incongruous, messy and deeply personal because the city itself is a collage of competing histories laid on top of each other creating this tension you can almost hear humming throughout. [The city is] proud and engaged with deep-reaching roots, while at the same time transient, young and fickle. Style icon and/or inspiration I consist of references [from] too many people to count, but some highlights are artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, photographer David LaChapelle, choreographer and director Raja Feather Kelly and writer and queer-theorist Alok Vaid-Menon. I am drawn to strong perspectives, probably because, creatively speaking, I’m an opinionated nightmare.
Amanda Gann Clothes in photo Camel suit pantsuit: 7th Avenue by New York & Company (from Poshmark) Blush linen wrap top: Showpo (from Poshmark) Shoes: Vince Camuto Warma Heeled Sandal in medium brown Purse: Handmade in Puerto Morelos Mexico Referenced items Elizabeta Pillar Ring: Kicheko Goods // kichekogoods.com Vintage Purse: Common Thread DC // swatchroom.com/commonthread Pebble Drop Earrings: Romy Studio // romystudio.com Referenced places Current Boutique (multiple locations): currentboutique.com // @currentboutique Common Thread at Swatchroom: 1712 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; swatchroom.com/commonthread // @commonthreaddc Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; unionmarketdc.com // @unionmarketdc Roquois
Wardrobe essential I love when someone has a distinct personal fragrance and how that gets wrapped up in your memories of them. It’s such an intimate expression of style. If you want to get a whiff of me (and I know you do, baby), go check out Aēsop’s earthy Hwyl.
Clothes in photo Emerald Gown: DiDomenico // @DiDomenico_Design Gold Jewelry: TruFacebyGrace // @trufacebygrace
Personal style I am a genderless and gendermore belligerent fantasy. Full stop. As a bald faggot with impossibly high cheekbones, I am unapologetic about the conversation between the butch and femme parts of myself and this manifests in my personal style and in the choreographic work I make through my company, haus of bambi. I revel in a confrontational and irreverent queerness, and my signature move is telling bachelorette parties to calm down. Am I a hero? Probably. @thatgorlbambi // hausofbambi.com
Clothes in photo Earrings on page 53: Helen Lolita Blazer + blouse on page 53: Vintage and Charmed Earrings on page 54: Vibrant Love Artistry Dress on page 54: Vintage and Charmed
What D.C. style means to you D.C. is so culturally diverse that really, anything goes in this town. Now, whether or not everyone dresses in that spirit is another question. I love when I see someone walking down the street who has an individual style all their own or has that gleam in their eye because they know they are looking good.
58 | JULY 2021
Stylist Cheero Citizen // @cheerocitizen Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell
Style icon and/or inspiration I don’t have one particular style, but I am immensely inspired by the work of artists, designers and even by interior spaces. It is ever-changing, but right now, I’d say people like fashion designer Tyler McGillivary, ceramicist Francesca Dimattio, interior designer Beata Heuman and many other brilliant people and places that play with color, patten and texture in unique ways. Wardrobe essential I love a jumpsuit. Even before they became fashionable, I was sporting Carhartt coveralls at art school. It’s sort of a one-stop shop. I love the ease and utilitarianism of them. Personal style I’m not a flashy dresser, but I do love to play with color and pattern. I enjoy finding the right balance with a look, and my wardrobe tends to coordinate with my work in that moment. So, if I am working with certain colors a lot, they tend to find their way very quickly into what I’m wearing. As a mom and artist, I want my clothes to be stylish but also functional. @katezaremba // katezarembacompany.com
RIGHT PAGE (FROM TOP). Kate Zaremba. Photo courtesy of subject. Robert Woofter. Photo by Zachary Z Handler.
DISTRICT FRAY | 59
PRIDE IN THE SKY. Enjoy some of our favorite shots from our Pride in the Sky event at Hedy’s Rooftop at Hotel Zena on June 16, where dozens of the 50 LGBTQ+ notables featured in our summer issue celebrated Pride with us. Photos by Andrew J. Williams III.
60 | JULY 2021
FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT SERIES YARDS PARK 7PM - 9PM The Summer Lineup:
7.9 7.16 7.23
UNCLE JESSE LA UNICA THE 19TH STREET BAND
7.30 8.06 8.13
BROADSOUND 7 DEADLINES JWX: THE JARREAU WILLIAMS EXPERIENCE
Exhibit curator Amanda Jirón-Murphy, standing near a tapestry by Jackie Milad, spent several months preparing “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow,” a response to the pandemic from nine local artists. | JULY 2021 62
Arlington Arts Center’s
“WE CAN’T PREDICT TOMORROW” Examines The Pandemic Through A Lens of Resilience WORDS BY ELIZA TEBO BERKON | PHOTOS BY RICH KESSLER PHOTOGRAPHY When Amanda Jirón-Murphy agreed last fall to curate an exhibit for Arlington Arts Center, it didn’t take long to settle on a concept. “There was no way for it to be about anything other than Covid,” says Jirón-Murphy, who serves as guest curator and is the gallery’s interim exhibitions director. “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow,” a collection of works from nine local artists that runs through August 28, addresses the pandemic from an array of perspectives — all of which speak in some way to resilience, Jirón-Murphy says. “What are the small gestures we can do as human beings?” she asked at a recent visit to the gallery. “What are the things that get us through a hard time, and how do these artists do that in their own ways?” The answers that emerge in “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow” are disparate. Baltimore-based artist Jared Nielsen presents a portfolio of pen-and-ink animal drawings he has amassed since January, creating one per day based on images from a Wikipedia webpage and crowdsourced proposals from his social media followers. D.C. light artist Tommy Bobo honors live music by reconfiguring footage from a 2003 Radiohead concert into a hypnotic 3D light and sound show. D.C. photographer Guarina Lopez — who inadvertently lent the exhibit its name during a conversation with the curator — highlights the restorative qualities of outdoor locations, while also drawing attention to the native peoples who once populated them. A particularly striking piece near the show’s entrance addresses the incomprehensible loss of the pandemic in a rather literal way. In “Reunions,” D.C.-based multimedia artist Leigh Davis explores the mourning process through a psychomanteum: a secluded chamber for grieving that was promoted in the 1990s by philosopher and psychologist Raymond Moody (considered the originator of the term neardeath experience). The large, pyramidal structure offers visitors a dark and quiet place to sit with grief or communicate directly with the departed. In 2015, Davis studied end-of-life rituals for a new body of work on the topic, research that led her to a New York organization focused on bereavement and the afterlife. Its founders showed Davis a psychomanteum they’d fashioned out of PVC pipe and a curtain in their basement, and told her it was used for bereavement therapy, which included interacting with the dead in some cases. “When I started the research for this project, I was a bit
skeptical about life after death, spirits existing [and] visitations from the dying,” Davis says. “The longer I spoke to people I interviewed, the more I believed in having some sort of contact from people from the other side.” In 2019, Davis constructed “Reunions” for an exhibit on grief at EFA Project Space in Manhattan. Visitors subsequently shared their experiences with her, some telling her they found themselves tearing up or reaching a meditative state inside the space. In “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow,” the psychomanteum (more than 8 feet tall) is dramatic and imposing, yet inviting, with magnetized curtains that are easily pulled back. Patrons are provided guidance on how to best experience the space, including how to tap a “grief point” near the heart. Inside, a legless chair sits on the floor opposite a round, gilded mirror meant for scrying: the practice of peering into a reflective surface to receive a message or revelation. Beside the chair is a metal tray bearing mementos of loved ones that prior guests left behind: a deck of cards, a photograph, a wedding ring. Above it hangs a single lightbulb. Though the work itself hasn’t been altered since its first showing two years ago, Davis says the meaning of “Reunions” has changed significantly amid the global pandemic. “Even if there’s no interest in contacting someone or anything that has to do with the supernatural realm, I think [because] people are holding on to a lot of emotion right now and really need spaces to slow down and process what has happened, that space feels really important.” But Davis cautions against overestimating the structure’s power to soothe. “The word ‘healing’ might be too much. I don’t even think people can heal yet. I think we’re still in a kind of aftershock.” In the Tiffany room down the hall, named for its row of stained-glass windows, a host of pieces offer perspectives on the roles of self-care and motherhood during the pandemic. Maryland photographer Nakeya Brown’s “X-pressions: Black Beauty Still Lifes” pairs hair accessories with beauty product ads from the late 20th century that target a Black female audience. D.C.-based artist Bahar Yürükoğlu presents “IYKYK” (short for “If You Know, You Know”), a multimedia installation that includes a video she assembled from clips of her daily life shot before and during motherhood. The film employs a recording of an electric breast pump as its score. “It’s a real homage to the schizophrenic nature [of] being a DISTRICT FRAY | 63
D.C. light artist Tommy Bobo pays tribute to live music by working sound from a 2003 Radiohead concert into a visual experience enhanced by 3D glasses.
mom early on: constantly being pulled away by a crying child,” says Jirón-Murphy, who had her first child in early 2020 and notes a number of the participating artists also became mothers just before or during the pandemic. “[‘IYKYK’ is] a memorial to preCovid life, but it’s also to the life she left behind when she became a mom.” In another piece, Suitland, Maryland-based painter Lex Marie captures a moment of solitude she snagged while her young son was with his father. The single mother began work on the oil and pastel self-portrait “At His Daddy’s House” in April 2020. “I like to make my art a historic snapshot, in a sense,” Marie says. “And in that moment, after spending a lot of time at home secluded with my son when quarantine started, I realized I needed a break.” In the work, Marie reclines on a tangerine sofa. She is nude and reading a book about Frida Kahlo, with a Spiderman toy resting on the hardwood floor beneath her — a nod to her son. The image, incidentally, was the subject of some controversy in June when a London-based exhibit published it without Marie’s permission. It also ran as the lead image of an article about the show in The Guardian before the art was pulled from the post. “Even when I’m taking a break [or] trying to promote self-care, it’s still like he’s in the back of my mind or a part of everything I do,” she says of her son. “I’m taking a break for me, but I’m taking a break for him. Me being the best me is what’s best for him.” For many mothers, whether holding down jobs outside the home or caring for their children full-time, the pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, Marie notes. “Moms in particular were thrown [into] a situation we never 64 | JULY 2021
thought we would be,” she says. “We couldn’t take our children out to places to play with kids. We were just stuck in the house with them every single day. So [this] was really a response: ‘Moms, y’all need to take a break.’” While working from home during a pandemic and simultaneously caring for an infant, Jirón-Murphy says she completed much of her research for “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow” online. But some unanticipated inspiration emerged in a book of photography by Félix González-Torres, a Cuban-born American artist who lost his partner due to HIV/AIDS and died at 38 from disease-related complications himself in 1996. As Jirón-Murphy looked through the book, she considered how artists have experienced other epidemics and translated their challenges to gallery walls. “His work is incredibly thoughtful, touching and joyful,” she says. “I think all of those things combined are what I wanted to [convey]. I turn to art as a way to console myself, and I think this work is doing the same.” “We Can’t Predict Tomorrow” runs through August 28. Learn more about Davis at leighdavisprojects.com and Marie at lexmarie.com. Follow all participating artists on Instagram: Davis @leighdavisprojects, Marie @thelexmarie, James Balo @speak_chile, Tommy Bobo @iamtommybobo, Nakeya Brown @nakeya_brown, Guarina Lopez @guarinapalomalopez, Jackie Milad @_jackie_milad_, Jared Nielsen @nielsenjared and Bahar Yürükoğlu @_iambahar. Arlington Arts Center: 3550 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-248-6800; arlingtonartscenter.org // @arlingtonartscenter
In “Reunions,” D.C. artist Leigh Davis invites guests to sit with their grief, and potentially commune with the departed, inside a pyramid-shaped psychomanteum.
Prior visitors to the psychomanteum have left mementos of those they have lost or relationships have|ended. DISTRICT that FRAY 65
WORDS BY MICHAEL LORIA On a commercial strip of 12th Street Northeast in Brookland, a bright pink storefront opened up on Saturday, June 19. Above the door, it reads “Bad Candy,” but there are no sweets inside — at least not yet. The owners of the art gallery, Bruce Allen and Henry Dotson, leased the space a few months ago when they couldn’t find the right place to show their artwork as the city reopened. Allen is a photographer and Dotson is a painter, and even before the pandemic, they felt there weren’t enough spaces for artists to show their work. They realized they could fill that gap by opening an artist-owned gallery that’s accessible, approachable and affordable. The pair showed their own work at Bad Candy in June, with bimonthly exhibits featuring other local artists on the horizon. In addition to selling work, they offer sustainably sourced apparel and sneaker customization. The apparel is screenprinted by D.C. artist Beth Hansen of The Arcade, a group of locals focused on arts accessibility in different neighborhoods. Allen and Dotson agreed their top priority was making art approachable. D.C. is home to world-class institutions that are (amazingly) free, but they can also contribute to a limiting perception that art is just for museums. “We want to make sure art is not some crazy inaccessible [or] intangible concept,” Dotson says. “It’s a thing you can hold in your hands, put on your wall, and admire and learn something from.” In contrast to most museums, Dotson says they want to personally engage gallery-goers when they visit, as well as feature local artists and let them explain their work. “Art is a community. Some of these places [are] missing that. We want to focus on the story of who made the piece and how they made it.” However, the gallery owners do want to offer the accessibility of downtown institutions by making the space clean and open during regular business hours. Lastly, they want to make the work affordable. Pieces at commercial galleries can easily run upwards of several thousand dollars. At Bad Candy, they want the work to be available to students, families and anyone else interested in purchasing art. “What we want to do is infuse this IKEA-affordable mentality into the pieces,” Dotson says. “We want anybody admiring a work of art to realize they can own that piece.” They also want to close the gap by offering a place specifically Bad Candy Owners Henry Dotson + Bruce Allen. Photo courtesy of subjects.
Opens in Brookland for local artists. Working in D.C. themselves, Allen and Dotson can speak to the city’s thriving underground arts scene, but also to the difficulties of showing work to residents. “Just on a quantitative level,” Dotson says, “there aren’t that many spaces for artists to pop up. You have to seek them out. It’s not a reliable thing.” Allen points out the need for longer showings, noting that pop-ups can take months of planning and often end too quickly. “While the art pop-up scene in D.C. is around, it’s only for a night or a week [at a time],” he says. And as artists in the local scene, they understand how many of their peers in the District can go unseen. Dotson adds, “There’s a lot of voices that go unheard, and we want to be the space that amplifies those voices.” They hope to collaborate with these artists on Bad Candy apparel and sneaker customization. This month, they’re opening an application process on their website for “artists and creators looking to collaborate.” Expect monthly apparel releases. “If there’s any big cultural ethos for young people, it’s that collaboration works,” Dotson says. They already have several local artists planned for upcoming shows, which, in keeping with the candy shop theme, have titles like “Sugar Rush,” “Flamin’ Hot” and “Sweet Dreams.” “Sugar Rush” will be a group show this month and “Flamin’ Hot” will be a solo show in August, but Allen and Dotson are hesitant to reveal the featured artist for the latter. “I’m not going to say who, [but] he’s one of the biggest upcoming artists [in] this area and we’re honored to work with him,” Allen says. “You’ve definitely seen him.” Until then, the plan is to fill up the walls, get people in and ensure a constant flow of art from the gallery to local residents. As we near a post-pandemic era, it’s encouraging to not only see spaces reopen, but to see new spaces open that are entirely rethinking what galleries in the city can look like. “D.C.’s art scene is still slowly recovering,” Allen says. “I hope here at Bad Candy, we can foster that and give people the motivation and courage to pursue it.” Bad Candy Art Gallery: 3508 12th St. NE, DC; badcandy.us // @badcandyshopdc DISTRICT FRAY | 67
Reflection + Reprieve No Kings Collective Talks Design for Studio Outdoors WORDS BY NICOLE SCHALLER
LIFE In a desert of concrete buildings with the occasional construction partition lies what appears to be a mirage. Outside of International Square along 19th Street, vibrant green turf covers the once barren sidewalk with sprouting pale pink palm leaves and matching pink chairs. Black-and-white striped cabana umbrellas dot the landscape and a yellow cube at the far end is accompanied by bar stools. The space, aptly named Studio Outdoors, is real estate investment firm Tishman Speyer’s new outside office workspace created by the founders of creative production brand No Kings Collective: Brandon Hill and Peter Chang. “I want people to feel good in the space,” Chang says. “I want them to feel comfortable. Downtown is pretty beige in every direction. Everything is brown and tan and black glass — even the signage. We wanted to bring reprieve.” The whimsical installation is visually reminiscent of computer game animation, with bright, sharp graphic design features comprising the different seating arrangements. Hill acknowledges how it unintentionally took on a Sims-like aesthetic, especially from a bird’s eye point of view. But that was not their original intent. “We were thinking about the nostalgia of summer itself, like how you think about it as a kid,” Hill says. “Summer is activities with family. Summer is activities with friends. Summer is the beach. So, when we were creating a mood board for how to plan the project, we were thinking, ‘What images come to mind?’ Fruit, gingham, baseball, grass, green itself. In a design sense, [we were] trying to figure out, ‘How do we communicate the vibe of summer at first glance?’” The space, which opened in June, allows anyone to freely reserve a maximum of two hours for a group of up to eight people. Additional amenities include free Wi-Fi, laptop chargers and a curated list of dining options from local eateries that can be delivered right to Studio Outdoors. “This is an interim installation we are doing as part of a broader conversation about what the future workplace looks like in a post-pandemic world,” says Tishman Speyer’s regional director, Jeff Chod. “[We want to] create alternatives to what people were accustomed to pre-pandemic [and] help become a gateway for people to come back downtown. Our goal is really making employees’ workdays happier.” The project came to No Kings Collective in January 2021, at the height of the second wave of Covid. Planning a communal outdoor space with weekly changing guidelines posed an ongoing challenge. “There were multiple iterations,” Chang says. “Initially, they were individual cubbies where maybe two people could sit and then walls to separate [them]. We didn’t really have a good line of sight. It was really just for Covid restrictions so that people could be separated. Every couple of weeks, the rules kept changing. It was a moving target. Finally, Brandon and I were like, ‘You know what? By the time this thing opens, [the city will] probably be fully opened.’ Outdoor parks were already Covid compatible, so we started thinking about this kind of like a park.” The park mindset is reflective in the open layout and multiple seating options at both communal and single tables. The different arrangements allow people to choose their own adventure based on their current comfort level with social interaction. Although the design process took longer than normal, Hill notes they shared an innovative vision for what they wanted the space to embody. 70 | JULY 2021
“Fundamentally, the office is not a place you actually dream about being in the first place. With the aesthetic, we were thinking about summer. But with the functionality, [we were thinking about], ‘Where do you actually want to be?’ For us, we want to be in a museum. We stopped thinking about an outdoor office and started thinking about, ‘How do we take an outdoor art installation and make it office compatible?’ If you didn’t know it was a coworking space, would someone naturally just want to sit down in this thing?” Hill and Chang successfully executed this vision. Upon visiting the site after-hours when the tables and chairs have been removed, I see a couple lounging on the built-in grassy seats of the installation catching up on their day. A woman in a pressed suit paces back and forth in the outdoor space while on the phone. People are clearly drawn to its inviting atmosphere. “Any time we put up a mural or installation, I’m happy with it,” Chang says. “I’m proud of the work, but you just never know if people view it the same. They could think, ‘Look at this crazy amalgamation of colors that doesn’t make sense in the middle of downtown. What were these guys thinking?’” Despite these concerns, most people who see No Kings’ works respond positively, if not enthusiastically. Unlike most artists and creators during the pandemic, Hill and Chang have been at their busiest due to their popularity and field. “We never stopped,” Chang continues. “It got busier for us because all [of these] places that couldn’t really shut down their establishment to make these improvements all of sudden closed [because of Covid]. So, everyone was like, ‘This is the time to do it.’ And then everyone started hitting us up.” Since their work is categorized as construction work with contractors, they were considered essential workers and could continue with their projects during the pandemic. “Even though it was a traffic jam of work and made life harder, I’m not going to complain,” Hill reflects. “We were fortunate that we could work.” With the opportunity to continue projects, Hill says he gained new motivation for what he wants to achieve with their pieces in the future. “I think art is a necessity, but sometimes it’s an amenity. I know what places were like before we painted them, and I know what they are like after. Sometimes, the perception of the place is completely different. Going forward, I [want to] push that more to the forefront. We want to make sure what we make is going to improve the area. We want to be more vocal about our impact, and more purposeful.” The increase in demand for their work is not lost on Hill or Chang; the road to success was long. Starting first as friends after meeting in their senior year of college, they worked together and unofficially started No Kings in 2009 before officially becoming a company in 2013. Before No Kings was a duo with a handful of core team members, they were a group of four friends promoting their art and working together to push their own individual pieces. In 2009, one of the original members stole money from their first show and left them. In 2010, the third member chose to part ways, causing the group as whole to disband — including Hill and Chang. “We were doing shows and not making any money,” Chang says. “It was a lot of work.” Their luck changed in 2011 when Chang was offered a large space for an art show. He reached out to Hill and the third member. Studio Outdoors. Photo by Carl Nard.
The show was based off Nuit Blanche, an all-night art show from France, and was a promising opportunity. “I went back to Brandon and the third member. I said, ‘Hey, I think we can figure this out. We can make some money off of this.’ Brandon was like, ‘Alright, why not? Let’s try one more time. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’ The third member was like, ‘Nah, I’m out. You’ll never make money with this.’” With Chang and Hill reunited, the show was wildly successful. Chang estimates roughly 9,000 people attended. “That art exhibit was the catalyst that made us think, ‘Okay. Maybe we can do something with this.’” From there, No Kings slowly gained recognition and requests, but still struggled financially and for consistent work. People would congratulate them on their growing success, but on the backend, they were just trying to make ends meet. “We were still broke,” Chang says. “We didn’t have health insurance. No one really knew what we were dealing with. We’ve worked together for 16 years, [but] the last four years are when I’ve really felt stable.” One hurdle over the years was learning how to manage logistics on the job. Creating public art involves communicating and balancing their craft with building contractors, architects and PR agencies. “It’s just a lot of figuring stuff out,” Hill says. “We are between a lot of worlds: public art, fine art, entertainment and construction.” If you’ve ever walked around D.C. in recent years, there is a good chance you have seen much of their work. Some of their most notable murals include 2017’s “Work It, Gurl” on 14th Street and the baseball-themed “Washington” at Nationals Park.
They’re also well-known for their epic art parties, including 2019’s UMBRELLA, a three-day, pop-up art party featuring over 240 pieces from local artists. With so much success, Chang now wants to pay it forward by helping other artists who are trying to navigate in a similar space. “I think a big thing for us is always trying to instill our experiences in a newer generation of artists. We’re always trying to get the blueprint out.” As for the secret to Chang and Hill’s successful partnership of nearly two decades, each has a different perspective on what they’ve learned from one another. “I’m more intelligent,” Hill jokes. Chang deadpans, “I’m more patient.” Switching to a more serious tone, Chang notes the overall growth he has gained over the years by collaborating with Hill. “A lot of our processes and the way we do things have been challenged over the years. Every year, we are both faced with new problems. Just navigating together has strengthened our friendship and business partnership, and individually, what we take from it and how we apply it to our trade and craft. I used to be very methodical about the process. Breaking out of my box and comfort zone has been challenging, but overall, [it has been] great.” Learn more about Studio Outdoors and book a reservation for up to eight people for a two-hour window at yourstudio.com. The space is now open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Learn more about No Kings Collective at nokingscollective.com and follow them on Instagram @nokingsdc. Studio Outdoors: Outside of International Square along 19th Street, between K and I Streets in NW, DC; yourstudio.com // @studiobytishmanspeyer
Un-Wine and Taste New Peaks
BASTILLE e i o v a S La DAY AT THE FRENCH EMBASSY FRIDAY, JULY 16TH, 2021 dcfray.com/events
D.C. DESIGNERS REACT TO POST-PANDEMIC
fashion Trends WORDS BY AMANDA WEISBROD
At this point, everyone has a favorite pair of sweatpants — the triedand-true ones that served as a sort of security blanket during a time of tumult and uncertainty. But as the world enters a postpandemic era, fashion experts wonder whether these beloved sweatpants will walk into the future of fashion or be left behind in a donation pile. Elka Stevens, associate professor and coordinator of fashion design at Howard University, says it could go either way. Some people will trade in their comfy clothes for more elaborate statement pieces, while others will continue to shop for comfortable yet stylish clothing in the form of athleisure wear and loungewear. In particular, Stevens says the work-from-home video call behavior of dressing to impress from the waist up while wearing comfy bottoms is a trend that will continue in the future. “I think in part, there are going to be remnants of Covid that [will] stay because we have this phenomenon of dressing [from the waist] up. I think there’s going to be additional attention to dressing up from the waist up because of online engagement, [and] in turn, that means casual athleisure. Comfortable clothing from the waist down is going to be around for a long time as a result of this.” The fashion professor prophesizes this dressycasual fusion will be heralded by innovations in the performance textiles department due to the growing need for material that presents a polished image while remaining breathy and comfortable. DISTRICT FRAY | 73
Mimi Miller, founder and designer of Mimi Miller, Womenswear, says she’s noticed more elevated looks and less athleisure wear on the streets of D.C. as we edge closer to post-pandemic life. Personally, she’s excited for the return of dressier looks. “[I’m] someone who loves to put on a nice outfit every day because I feel like it’s a direct reflection of my mental health and outlook on the day,” she says. “I love the idea of people wearing statement pieces on a day-to-day basis.” But at the same time, Miller is also looking forward to the juxtaposition between casual and extravagant styles as people experiment with combining fashionable pieces and comfortable ones. She’s also noticed the same “dressing-from-the-waistup” trend that Stevens brought to light. On Instagram, Miller saw several posts of women pairing blazers with sweatpants. Along the same lines, D.C. artist and designer Evan Ibrahim says the elevation of comfort clothing into fashionable pieces has to do with creative expression brought on by pandemic isolation and boredom. “I think now, more so than ever, people are going to use [fashion] as a form of expression,” he says. “I see more people taking risks they might not have taken before because they have a different outlook on life or a different perspective. I want to see people use fashion as an expression and be a little more daring.” Ibrahim says that during lockdown, he noticed that many people in D.C. picked up embroidery and sewing as a hobby, leading them to elevate and upcycle looks they already owned. The local designer hopes to see this trend of sustainability continue. “I love this new era of people wanting to learn [how to sew] and then also be sustainable, use what’s around them, and combat a lot of issues happening with our environment and the fashion industry.” This sustainability trend also extends to the catwalk. In an act of defiance against the fast-fashion industry, Gucci announced last year they would no longer produce seasonal collections and instead only release two “seasonless” collections annually. 74 | JULY 2021
Joelle Firzli, CEO and curator of Tribute, says Gucci’s move to reduce its carbon footprint was brought on by pandemic production restrictions, and she hopes other designers will follow suit. As for the collections themselves, Firzli says designers always pull inspiration from what’s in their immediate surroundings — and being secluded for more than a year has led to some interesting designs centered on the idea of departure from reality. “When for one year you’re stuck at home, I think that counterreaction is escapism,” Firzli says. “It’s about escaping. It’s about dreaming. It’s about fantasy.” But this isn’t the first time the world has seen fantastical, dreamy and escapist looks emerge after a harrowing event. As a fashion historian, Firzli has noticed parallels between where fashion is headed today and trends that appeared in 1920s America after the Spanish
FIRST PAGE. Mimi Miller. SECOND + THIRD PAGES. Models wear Mimi Miller, Womenswear designs. All photos by Emma McAlary.
Flu of 1918 and even during the aftermath of the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Firzli can’t predict the future, but with the context of history in mind and insight into the past, she is confident the coronavirus will have a lasting impression on fashion as we know it — whether that means a continuation of comfy couture or an outburst of creative expression. “We talk about it and relate it to newness and a cycle of change, but really fashion is a lot about nostalgia — a sweet nostalgia,” Firzli says. “When you look at what happened in history, you always see patterns.”
Check out Mimi Miller, Womenswear at shopmimimiller.com and on Instagram @shopmimimiller. Learn more about Ibrahim, shop his designs and sign up for sewing classes at metamorphosedc.com. Follow him on Instagram @ibrahime. Shop online at Tribute Collective, thisistribute.com or visit their brick-and-mortar location at 1664 Columbia Rd. NW, DC. Follow Triute on Instagram @thisistribute.
DISTRICT FRAY | 75
Redefining the Edges of D.C.’s Vintage Clothing Scene WORDS BY ANDREW J. WILLIAMS III Vintage shops, once regarded as the place where undesirable things go to die, are experiencing a renaissance. The burning question is: Why now? The answer might be found in the reemergence of classic styles and the meteoric rise in popularity of genres like streetwear. Flared pants, high-waisted jeans, white sneakers, corduroy, joggers, sweatsuits and band tees are reinserting themselves in the bloodstream of popular culture. Even more, the exclusivity, durability and sustainability offered by vintage is unmatched. There’s a thrilling factor to finding a piece that fits your style and can’t easily be acquired by others. It’s the essence of individual expression. And, in a world where brands produce seasonal styles en masse, with materials that rarely stand the test of time, it’s no secret why the vintage clothing industry is booming (and evolving) in cities like D.C. “Without a doubt, vintage pieces are better quality,” says James Hackley. “If you want true Gucci or Louis [Vuitton], you have to go back to the pieces when they were made better, [with] 76 | JULY 2021
better materials and workmanship behind [them].” Hackley, the co-founder of Bespoke Not Broke in Takoma Park, Maryland, acquired his penchant for vintage in a past life as a corporate sales professional before transitioning into the fashion industry six years ago, following a major life decision. Spending most days on the road, Hackley made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and successfully dropped 50 pounds in four months. But reaching this milestone had two consequences: He was forced to part ways with ill-fitting luxury clothing pieces and let go of his fixation with high-priced fashion. “I had a lot of nice things, like $150 Thomas Pink shirts. When I went from a [size] 42 to 38, I had to give away all those shirts. So, I vowed never to spend that much money on clothing again.” He slowly rebuilt his closet by visiting thrift stores and vintage shops before his acumen for marketing and love of fashion sparked an idea: Open a shop where people could find items that felt “custom-made for you without breaking the bank.” Common Thread. Photo courtesy of the shop.
Hackley’s perspective shift reflects how negative attitudes about vintage clothing — and their place in the fashion world — no longer apply. “The business of vintage has definitely evolved, and it’s either evolve or die.” Hackley goes on to describe the practice of high-end brands recreating vintage designs — a clear indication it’s going mainstream. Once regarded as time machines for older generations eager to preserve the nostalgia of their youth, vintage shops are now vehicles for self-expression across generations to pay homage to the enduring swagger of classic styles. In that vein, Bespoke Not Broke designed their space to attract loyal customers and newcomers alike in search of signature, niche garments to add some elegance, personality and flair to their wardrobe. And Bespoke’s holy grail of vintage items are pieces procured from what Hackley considers the heyday of well-known fashion houses, pre-1980s when quality, not mass-production, was the standard. Bespoke is an old soul with a youthful spirit: Think well-worn leather, wide-brim hats, kimonos, Chanel bags, dinner jackets, jazz music, beautifully finished wood and a Union Jack flag for effect. It’s what a British customer once described as a “Kingsman”esque resale shop — a nod to the 2014 spy movie. Imagine welldressed men and women bloodying bad guys while outfitted in custom suits and polished brogues. Bespoke’s return to the past is in line with a broader trend in popular culture. The reemergence of vinyl, roller skating, ‘80s horror and drive-in movies signal how cyclical style tastes breathe new life into retro — and bleed into fashion impulses. It’s a twist on a classic adage: What’s old is cool again.
be gendered, [such as] ‘This is a guy’s vintage store’ or ‘This is a women’s vintage store.’ We want it to be more unisex. Anyone that wants to wear whatever can wear whatever.” Joint Custody’s origin traces back to Melkisethian’s long love affair with music, a passion that became the gateway into all things vintage. “For us, it’s always been intertwined, because we’ve always been into music and collecting records. As very young teenagers, maybe even before being teenagers, we were going into places where there was older stuff. Being into records gets you attuned to old things.” The collision of vintage and fluid style blends into every aspect of the eclectic shop, including Joint Custody’s 10 employees, a group as distinctive and diverse as their store’s collection. “We employ a lot of creative people. People who work at our store have very recently published books [and] released records. They [make] magazines. Everyone’s doing something creative.” The shop is replete with LPs, hats, tees, music posters (including a record release party flyer for Rites of Spring, a local influential ‘80s punk band), and even a rare pair of metallic purple Jordan Ones (for display only). It’s whimsical, gnarly and welcoming, like Melkisethian’s cherished Cold Chillin’ Records T-shirt: the perfect ‘80s callback. In the ‘80s, Cold Chillin’ catapulted the careers of iconic hip-hop pioneers like Biz Markie, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, and Big Daddy Kane. Their lyrical energy still survives today and, like the mark being left by Joint Custody, continues to influence those who follow in their footsteps — emulating their sound with their own finesse. It’s the most apt metaphor for the way vintage is reemerging in D.C. in every corner as an art form to be driven by individual tastes.
Right at the Edge
Stitching a City Together
D.C. culturally is a city rapidly evolving and reinventing itself in every sense. It’s home to an increasingly diverse and close-knit community of vintage shops, like Bespoke not Broke, beckoning residents to expand their style aperture. Take Joint Custody, a badass local vintage shop at the edge of the U Street Corridor. It’s a haven for vinyl enthusiasts, sneakerheads and streetwear loyalists who prefer the scarcity but not the price tag of fashion. Their location is at the precipice of where they live and where they feel fashion is moving. “We’re on the edge,” Joint Custody Co-owner Gene Melkisethian says. “The music we were into all along, the art, the movies — everything we like is counterculture.” His admission lands more hopeful than preachy and is a direct response to my prodding about the trend of celebrities exploring androgynous fashion — most notably, but not exclusively, Harry Styles, A$AP Rocky, Janelle Monae and Jaden Smith. I imagine the legion of youth following suit are turning to vintage. It’s a topic Melkisethian picks up on while describing their shop. “There [are] stores that try to appeal to a certain group of people based on what they think they’d like. I think if you take those barriers away, people are in a free space where they can decide, ‘I like this element. I don’t like that element.’” Melkisethian describes Joint Custody as a safe space for fluid self-expression, where the constraints of conforming to gender and societal norms are left at the door. A T-shirt is just that, come who may to snatch it up. “We didn’t want [the shop] to have a connotation that it would
Across town in the vibrant NoMa neighborhood is Common Thread, a shop and creation of design studio SWATCHROOM making waves as purveyors of vintage and staunch supporters of local makers. A sentiment echoed by Hackley and Melkisethian, Common Thread’s co-founder Warren Weixler is acutely aware that shopping vintage is both an act of stylistic liberation and a conscious choice to support sustainability. “We’re in a very unfortunately wasteful society,” Weixler says. “I think vintage is the opposite. You don’t have the [same] volume. If they’re in good quality, and they’re not tattered and ripped over time, there’s a very low quantity of those particular pieces. In a way, they’re almost luxury pieces, but not [at a] luxury price.” Weixler, an architect by profession, appreciates how the upcycling of clothing through vintage gives them new purpose that’s unique to each individual. “We’re not throwing these clothes out. They’re actually being revamped and reused in a new way. How it was worn originally in the ‘70s or ‘80s, you don’t have to wear it the same way. Now, you can put your own style on it. You can add a patch. You can embroider your name. Whatever those things are that make you feel like it’s yours.” Common Thread takes a community approach to its curation. What started as a clothing drive to support those in need became a place to showcase local “small brands and vendors” anchored by a constantly rotating selection of vintage clothing and goods including starter jackets, dresses, necklaces, rings, bracelets and other wearable cultural artifacts.
THIRD + FOURTH PAGES (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP). Mercedes Bien. Common Thread. Joint Custody. Bespoke Not Broke. Photos courtesy of shops.
DISTRICT FRAY | 77
78 | JULY 2021
DISTRICT FRAY | 79
LIFE The shop is cool personified with vibrant artwork, music, old-school cameras and even a few vintage Playboy magazines strewn about the space. “We just have a cool vibe. We’re inclusive, we have great music and the product is good. I think that’s where we are at the moment. Everybody that walks in has an unexpected reaction to it. They’re like, ‘Wow, this is cool. This doesn’t feel like D.C. This is something different.’” Weixler, who idolizes his vintage Levi’s jean jacket from London most of all, dreamed of Common Thread as a glimmer of hope during the pandemic and in the wake of increased social activism in the past year. It’s delivering on that promise and more by continuing to run as a local clothing drive, inviting in emerging entrepreneurs and giving patrons a connection to the past. “It’s that nostalgia [that] gives you that memory. Just like when you smell something that your mom used to make, or you hear that song that somebody used to play all the time that was important in your life. It just transports you. I think vintage goods do that.” Many are waking up to the cool factor vintage delivers, but for others, vintage is in their blood.
The OG of D.C. Vintage Mercedes Bien has been a vintage groupie since her youth. “I am a fourth-generation Washingtonian,” says Bien, who owns a vintage shop of the same name in Adams Morgan. “When I was young, my mom would take me to thrift stores or church sales. [She] always would mention how items are made. For instance, plaids and lines should meet on the side [seam], bound buttonholes, [etc.] — different aspects of well-made clothing I developed an eye [for].” For Bien, vintage is something she just knows like the back of her hand. She describes the experience of growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a time when present day trends we’re seeing in vintage were commonplace. “I think we dressed with a lot of individuality back then. Everybody wore vintage.” Bien, who loves quirky prints from the ‘70s, began selling vintage after college in the Georgetown Flea Market before opening a permanent space on M Street. She later closed the store and opened her current shop in 2007. She’s seen the city and industry change and acknowledges, like others, that shopping habits across genders have evolved. It’s the same free space for fashion described by Melkisethian that is giving vintage new life. “We are definitely in fluid times. Men have so many more options now. They’re wanting to wear color. They’re wanting to wear different silhouettes. It’s just a real positive aspect. The same with women. They want to wear men’s shirts. They want to [try] military wear. They just want to experiment. It’s a really good thing,” Bien’s style, like her shop, is aging with grace. She’s had items of clothing for more than 40 years and thinks that’s what makes it so special. “When you buy something vintage, you generally will probably have it for the rest of your life if you’re taking decent care of it. [It’s] because you’re making your own character with it. I just love so much of what I have.” 80 | JULY 2021
So You Want to Vintage? Leaning into that adaptable space, Bien encourages first-time vintage seekers to follow their intuition. “What I think is a good thing to do is just let yourself walk around and see what you are attracted to. If you’re attracted to it, generally it’s going to be because you’re attracted to the form, the color or something [else that] speaks to you.” Other local shop owners offer similar advice. “I think the first thing is to find out and go after something you really care about,” Melkisethian says, “and not just go for what everyone else is into because you’re going to be chasing a bouncing ball that’s getting further and further away from you.” For others, it may be about finding exclusive pieces to flex when the moment strikes. “[A vintage piece] may not be something you wear every day,” Weixler says. “You’re going to bring it out for an occasion: a dinner or going out with a friend. I tend to pick and choose the moment when I debut [a new find].” It also might be a chance to dive into the visual and creative feast offered by vintage shops. Fashion spaces are more fluid than ever and there are no rules: only the ones you make for yourself. Hackley says, “The creative types, the folks who may come in breaking all the fashion rules — [wearing] stripes and plaids or dashikis on top of camo. Folks who dress like that and come in, they’re like, ‘We’re in a candy store now.’ They love it.” Whatever your approach, the best advice is to not hesitate or you risk missing out on something that’s uniquely meant for you. “It’s like artwork,” Weixler says. “If it hits you, just get it, because you’re probably not going to find another one.”
Curators of Vintage Style While by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few local vintage heroes to check out in and around the District. Analog at The Arts Walk: 716 Monroe St. Unit 5, NE, DC; shopanalog.com // @shopanalog Bespoke Not Broke: 7042 Carroll Ave. Takoma Park, MD; bespokenotbroke.com // @bespokenotbroke Common Thread: 1268 4th St. NE, DC; swatchroom.com/ commonthread // @commonthreaddc Fia’s Fabulous Finds: 806 Upshur St. NW, DC; fiasfabfinds.tumblr.com // @fiasfabfinds Joint Custody: 1530 U St. NW, DC; jointcustodydc.com // @jointcustodydc Meeps Vintage: 2104 18th St. NW, DC; meepsdc.com // @meepsdc Mercedes Bien Vintage: 2423 18th St. NW, DC; fb.com/MercedesBienVintageClothingandDecor // @mercedesbienvintage Vintage and Charmed Classic Clothing: 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE, DC; vintageandcharmed.com // @vintagencharmed
P L E A S E D R I N K R E S P O N S I B LY TENNESSEE WHISKEY, 40% ALC. BY VOL. (80 PROOF) DISTILLED AND BOTTLED BY JACK DANIEL’S DISTILLERY, LYNCHBURG, TENNESSEE. JACK DANIEL’S AND OLD NO.7 ARE REGISTERED TRADEMARKS. ©2020 JACK DANIEL’S. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BIKING IN THE DMV 82 | JULY 2021
WORDS BY ALLISON HAGEMAN | ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES COREAS
dventure and the ability to go anywhere are what three local biking experts say excites them about cycling. It’s a feeling created by two wheels rolling along the hot pavement of a D.C. street, wind in the hair and the freedom of moving yourself independently. Beyond just fun, biking can be practical and good for the environment, when used as a car alternative to commuting to work or running errands. But what if you are an adult who has never biked before? How do you know what cycling classes, events, groups, trails, equipment and safety tips to choose from, join and/or follow? Luckily, D.C. is a great place to begin cycling with bike lanes, bike shares and 479 miles of trail, according to the Capital Trails Coalition. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)’s adult education coordinator Sydney Sotelo, Gearin’ Up Bicycles Program Coordinator Tori Riemersma and Balance Gym’s CEO Devin Maier spoke with us about how to start biking as a beginner. Each is uniquely qualified to share advice. Sotelo teaches adult cycling classes and is a part of a nonprofit that advocates for cyclists in the DMV; Riemersma works at a cycling nonprofit that educates youth about bike mechanics and teaches mountain biking to a local high school; and Maier is the CEO of a gym that helps people train like professional athletes, as well as an avid cyclist. We picked their brains on tips for newbie cyclists to create our beginner’s guide for bikers.
ADVICE FOR GETTING STARTED District Fray: What is the first step you would recommend for a beginning cyclist?
over to Virginia for a brewery ride on the W&OD trail. Did you know that there are close to 50 [breweries] off of the trail?
Sydney Sotelo: The very first thing to ask yourself [is], “Do you know how to ride a bike? Have you ever tried to learn to ride a bike?” [And] if not, “Where can you learn how?” WABA also offers “Learn to Ride” classes, as do other organizations in the region like REI.
What do you need to know before riding in a group?
What type of bike or gear would you recommend for a new cyclist? Devin Maier: I typically ride my Cannondale CAAD12, but honestly, I recommend whatever fits your budget and cycling goals. My favorite bike in my stable is a tandem Graziella Carnielli from 1970. It makes everyone smile when we take it for a spin around the neighborhood. As for gear, I’d suggest investing in proper bike shoes and shorts if you plan to bike more than a couple of miles at a time. Our tandem is for leisure, thankfully. What are your go-to safety tips? Tori Riemersma: Don’t ride with both headphones in. I always keep my left ear open because that’s the side that’s facing the street so I can hear what’s going on. A helmet is always good. A lot of the crashes and accidents that happen are on very short rides, but they can happen at any time even if you’re not going really fast or really hard. How often should beginners practice cycling? Sotelo: It depends on the person. Everyone learns new skills differently, and some people may pick it up a lot faster than others. Anything you’re learning to do for the first time, make sure you are excited about practicing, you do it as often as you need to and feel comfortable doing it to progress.
Riemersma: When you’re riding in a group, [avoid] half wheeling, [which is] when you are riding and your front wheel is overlapping with their back wheel. You want to make sure they have a clear side-to-side so there’s no overlap between front and rear wheels, because if someone needs to turn all of a sudden, they’ll hit your front wheel and that’s two people down. What excites you about cycling and keeps you doing it? Riemersma: I like the adventure and independence. It’s what got me into it in the first place — getting on my bike and riding 30 miles and realizing, ‘Wow, I can go that far. I can do it by myself.’ There are so many things out there I can go and explore, like a new coffee shop or going to get tacos. I’m also a highly food motivated individual, and there’s so much freedom and independence, and even empowerment, with being able to have your own transportation and recreation. Maier: I love getting out of the house — the breeze in your hair and having adventures via a bicycle. It’s honestly the best mode of transportation in cities like D.C. and if you cycle [far] enough, it can even take you to the beach. Sotelo: The thing that excites me the most about biking is being able to really go anywhere, and I can depend entirely on myself in order to get to where I want to go. I’m not caught up by traffic or sitting and waiting for a bus or a train. When I want to go somewhere, I can hop on my bike and get there. They do say in the District, if you need to go anywhere within three miles, you can get there more quickly by bike. Any last advice for a new cyclist?
What are your favorite cycling routes in the DMV?
Riemersma: For beginners, the [most] important thing is just getting out and riding. Whatever motivates people, whether that be the social aspect, food or exploring, get out and do it.
Maier: I’m riding a lot on the Capital Crescent, Rock Creek Park and Anacostia Watershed trails. My goal is to find the best ways to connect them all, and I keep finding new, exciting ways to tie them all together. When I’m not riding [those trails], I head
WABA: waba.org // @wabadc Balance Gym: balancegym.com// @balancegym Gearin’ Up Bicycles: gearinupbicycles.org // @gearinupdc DISTRICT FRAY | 83
PLAY | BEGINNER’S GUIDE
JOIN A GROUP
DC Bike Ride: A scenic 20-mile bike ride through D.C. that occurs without cars on closed roads. It starts at West Potomac Park and ends with a festival in front of the U.S. Capitol. Proceeds go toward creating safer streets for D.C.’s biking community. 8 a.m. $0-$215. West Potomac Park: 121 West Basin Dr. SW, DC; dcbikeride.com // @dcbikeride
C&O Canal: An unpaved, flat running trail along the historic C&O Canal. nps.gov/choh // @chesapeakeandohiocanal
Getting it In Cyclists: A motivated cycling group who go throughout the DMV and teach new riders the cycling ropes. giibike.org // @gii_cyclists
Mount Vernon Trail: A paved trail running along the Potomac from Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. nps.gov/gwmp // fb.com/NPSGWMP
Nice n’ Easy: An hour-long bike ride created for beginners by Bicycle Space. The event is also a place to try out bicycles, ride with a group and learn about bicycle safety. 10 a.m. Free. Bicycle Space: 1512 Okie St. NE, DC; bicyclespacedc.com // @bicyclespace
Rock Creek Park: A partly paved path and on-road trail that goes through a tree-lined park, Beach Road and the National Zoo. nps.gov/rocr/index.htm // fb.com/RockCreekNPS
We Ride DC: An all-level group of locals who host community rides throughout the city and emphasize staying active and being inclusive. fb.com/groups/MidnightBikeRideDMV // @weridedc WTN (Women, Trans and Nonbinary) Night: A weekly class led by women and nonbinary volunteers that teaches basic bike maintenance skills. 6-8 p.m. Free. Gearin’ Up Bicycles: 1811 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; gearinupbicycles.org // @gearinupdc
Haines Point Loop Trail: A paved trail with views of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/hains-point-loop-trail.htm Metropolitan Branch Trail: An eight-mile paved path that features murals and runs from Silver Spring, Maryland to Union Station. traillink.com/trail/metropolitan-branch-trail
Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park: A 45-mile paved trail along an old railroad in Virginia. novaparks.com/parks/washington-and-old-dominion-railroad-regional-park
BONUS GUIDES Bikeablebrews Guide to the W&OD: A guide to biking to breweries in Virginia. bikeablebrews.com/WOD/wodhome.html Black Women Bike DC (BWBDC) Bike Buying 101: A local resource for buying a bike in the DMV. blackwomenbike.wordpress.com Ghost Bikes: A project for memorializing and bringing awareness to bikers killed while riding in the street. ghostbikes.org
Good luck at The Washington DC Ride for AUTISM & disABILITIES 84 | JULY 2021
EXPERIENCE THE FINE LIFE THIS SUMMER AT THESE PATIOS: FLASH
IRISH CHANNEL RESTAURANT & PUB
KELLY’S IRISH TIMES
KIRWAN’S ON THE WHARF
AMERICAN ICE COMPANY THE BRIG
ÉL BEBE EL TECHO
SURFSIDE TIKI TNT & POTOMAC DISTILLING COMPANY UNION PUB
THE MIDLANDS BEER GARDEN
Relax responsibly®. Corona Extra®, Corona Light® and Corona Premier® Beers. Imported by Crown Imports, Chicago, IL. Corona Light: Per 12 fl. oz. serving average analysis: Cals 99, Carbs 5.0g, Protein 0.8g, Fat 0.0 g. Corona Premier: Per 12 fl. oz. serving average analysis: Cals 90, Carbs 2.6 g, Protein 0.7 g, Fat 0.0 g.
GambetDC Gives You the Power to Choose 86 | JULY 2021
WORDS BY CASEY PAZZALIA
PLAY A few weeks ago, I was at a restaurant downtown when I ran into a problem some of you may have also faced. My wife and I were sitting right in front of a television at the bar, and we had to watch what the folks next to us were watching. It was a random sporting event that had no relevance to either of us, but first-come, first-served is undeniably the code of the bar television set. So we drank and watched, and then drank some more, until it finally hit me: I can make this situation a whole lot more interesting in just a few cell phone clicks. I can throw a few dollars on this lackluster game (legally, mind you) and turn it into something on par with an NBA or NFL playoff game. It gave us a vested interest in the action, while also breaking the ice with our bar neighbors. That’s the real beauty of GambetDC, the new sports betting offering operated by DC Lottery. You can get the same excitement and rush as playing Powerball or scratch-off tickets, only through sporting events you can take part in by watching live or on television. Sports betting is a little more personal and involved when compared to other lottery offerings, and the odds of winning are higher. A standard sports bet between two teams is similar to calling a coin in the air. “We’re the first lottery-operated sportsbook,” says the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG)’s director of marketing and communications, Nicole Jordan. “Fifty percent of our handle goes back to the city for social services, roads, schools [and] education. We don’t have to pay a third party. We’re locally owned.” Legal sports betting in D.C. was a long time coming. They were early adopters of legalization, voting in favor in December 2018 after the Supreme Court nullified the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 and left the decision up to individual states. As I write this, 22 states (including Virginia and West Virginia) have some form of legalized sports betting and eight more (including Maryland) have passed laws to legalize, but are yet to launch. GambetDC, which is accessible throughout most of the District, launched mobile betting in May 2020. There are two restricted play areas for GambetDC in the city. The first, which restricts bets from all companies, is near “the monumental and governmental core of the city” and includes “much of the Potomac waterfront and Rock Creek Park,” according to the GambetDC website. The other areas are two blocks or less from the four major pro sports venues within city limits: Nationals Park, Audi Field, Capital One Arena, and St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena. These venues are all serviced by other providers. “From a player standpoint, there’s no difference,” Jordan says. “You’re getting a world-renowened sportsbook. You’re able to bet the same way as any other platform, but in a safer and [more] convenient manner because you know where DC Lottery is.” The restrictions aren’t unbearable by any stretch, but GambetDC will have retail options open soon as well. Retail refers to a brick-and-mortar store, restaurant or hotel’s ability to acquire a license to offer sports betting onsite. It will provide small businesses with the operation to allow for different revenues and commissions, as well as increased foot traffic Intended to be a part of the initial launch back in 2018, GambetDC underwent delays — and the unforeseen global pandemic didn’t help. Nonetheless, as retailers are getting their capacity back up, they are looking forward to the option and having the ability to add another draw to their establishment. OLG’s Nicole Jordan. Photos courtesy of GambetDC.
Consumers who have yet to experience this phenomenon in The District should be excited, too. “Imagine you’re having your favorite drink at a restaurant [while] watching your favorite team, and you want to bet $5,” Jordan says, painting a picture of a time she assured was in the “very near” future. “You go to a self-service kiosk and place your bet. If you win, you can cash out right at the bar.” We’re truly living in historic times with the progress we’re making. Even just 10 years ago, things like sports betting and cannabis were so forbidden and taboo in everyday life. Now, we can sit in our townhouse with pot plants growing in the next room, betting on the Nationals game and living anxiety-free knowing it’s all by the book and legitimate. Like online books offered by the FanDuels and DraftKings of the world, GambetDC has many, many options — not just on the number of sports you can bet on, which includes everything from Major League Baseball to professional darts — but also in the juice you want from the squeeze. If you want to risk $10 on an NFL bet, you can collect $19 (your initial $10 and an additional $9) about 50 percent of the time. You can also take that $10 and pick a few different teams, therefore lowering your chances of winning but also increasing the potential prize. This is called a parlay. A four-team parlay, meaning all four bets needed to win, pays out 10 times what you risk (i.e., risk $10, win $100). “The one thing that differentiates us is you’ll have that retail component at your local bar or restaurant,” Jordan says. “But if you want to bet from the convenience of your home, you can do that, too. It’s about giving options to people so they can play wherever they want, however they want.” You can place wagers on all your favorite D.C. sports teams at gambetdc.dclottery.com or by downloading their app. You can also follow them on Instagram @gambetdc. Note: GambetDC is a paid advertiser of District Fray Magazine.
DISTRICT FRAY | 87
SLAY ALL DAY ILLUSTRATION BY E$
88 | JULY 2021
Follow E$ on Instagram @theedollarsign.
Do you have the desire to give back to your community and empower youth?
BECOME A MENTOR TODAY!
What does a Big Brother/Big Sister look like?
Working, Student, or Retired Adult 21 years and older Resident in the DMV Ability to commit for 1 year in our program
The Measurable Impact of Mentorship
Studies show that after 1 year of being matched, our youth are:
Less Likely to have contact with the Juvenile Justice System
Unable to volunteer? Donations help keep our matches active and successful! Donate at: https://bbbsnca.org/d onate/
More Likely to experience greater self-confidence
Less Likely than their peers to initiate drug and alcohol abuse
Want more information?
Enroll Online at: https://www.bbbs.org/getinvolved/
Big Brothers Big Sisters National Capital Area -- 910 17th Street NW #404 Washington, DC 20006
Talks About the Realities, Misconceptions + Joys of Modeling WORDS BY TRENT JOHNSON
Alexandra Cunningham currently has a lisp. For the 30-year-old, this is just the latest example of how annoying the modeling industry is. “I love what I do, but there are so many things about my industry that I hate,” Cunningham says. “Recently, my family and I did a Gap campaign, and I felt really good about it. After, my agent [asked] me, ‘Oh my God, have your teeth always looked like this?’” Enter Invisalign and said temporary lisp. Despite these pithy comments ranging from ridiculous to incredulous to mentally damaging, Cunningham has persevered in the modeling industry after getting a late start at 25, when she decided to pursue a career as a model full-time. “I had a lot of things I was good at, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she says. “I liked to draw, but that doesn’t mean I wanted to make a living out of drawing. I liked to work out, but didn’t want to be a Pilates instructor. I had a hard time honing in on what I was supposed to be doing.” Now a fixture in the industry under the moniker Alex Undone, she uses her platform as an opportunity to shine a light on some of modeling’s issues such as fatphobia, ageism and racism. When not on set, Cunningham takes her daughter to see anime flicks (in Japanese), walks the dog with her fiancé and hosts a YouTube talk show titled “Let’s Talk About It.” District Fray: What’s your day-to-day like as a model? That’s what people are probably most interested in, especially considering you have a 10-year-old daughter, too. Cunningham: Something that brings me great joy is crushing the fantasy of being a model.
90 | JULY 2021
IN OTHER WORDS Please, crush the fantasy. I walk the dog, meditate and work out. Sometimes, I’ll get ready for virtual casting calls, so I’ll have to stage the house. My favorite spot to be is having an audition, a job and a check on the way — all at the same time. I prefer to have all three in constant rotation. It’s a lot of waiting. You do all this work and audition, and it’s too much for them to come back and tell you, “You didn’t make it.” I’m auditioning all the time and it’s my job to stay healthy [and] eat well. The clients think I look like whatever my most recent digital is, so I’m constantly keeping up with that. When did you start modeling? I did some photoshoots in Germany when I was 18, but got pregnant and everything was put on the backburner. At 25, I tried again. I had been shooting locally with photographers in the DMV [Ed. note: Cunningham was living in Richmond at the time]. I’d drive down to Atlanta on my own dime. I was a freelance artist with no representation. I just knew the industry was scouting girls at a ridiculously young age. Most women who are 25 in the modeling world have already been doing it for 10 years. It sucks to be in an industry that considers you old at 25. I knew the reality of what I was getting into, so I packed up my car and drove from Virginia to LA. Did that prove to be the catalyst? I was like, “Mom, I’ll be back in three months.” Like, I was just going to raise so much money, secure a place and come back for my daughter. The joke was on me. I was there for eight months, and it was terrible. I couldn’t get signed. Everyone in LA told me my look was “so New York,” but no one in New York was signing me, either. Of course, there’s a happy ending to this journey, right? I did get signed, and the agency was such a scam. I won’t name them, but it’s every parent’s worse nightmare. After that, I went to New York, got signed there and it’s been a hustle since 2017 onward. But the work has been consistent and I feel like it’s finally paid off. Do you think getting established as a model in your mid20s with a little more life experience made the transition to treating it as a job easier for you? I was still susceptible to so much of the bullshit. Coming in at 25, I still wrestled with having a healthy body image. I still wrestled with body acceptance. I still wrestled with having a consistent and healthy way of eating. We live in a fatphobic world already. At 25, thinking about how sensitive I was in attaching that number on the scale to my worth, my heart really goes out to the younger models in this industry — and especially the ones who don’t have someone looking out for their best interest. It would have ruined me had I came into the industry any younger. You’ve mentioned some of the bullshit and misconceptions of modeling, but it seems like you really do enjoy it. What’s kept you coming back? I’ve always been very expressive. I’ve always viewed my body as a tool. For me, when I was on set, it was always about the art. It wasn’t about fashion for me. I liked making shapes with my body and expressing emotions. That’s what drew me to it. When I’m not on set, I’m shy and introverted. But when I’m modeling, I’m able to put a different hat on. Off set, I’m Alexandra and I’m goofy and awkward. But on set, it’s Alex Undone in the building, and it’s go time. Alexandra Cunningham. Photo courtesy of subject.
Does talking about problems in modeling via Instagram and other mediums make it even more important to you to act as a voice for change from the inside? I want to break through those ideas. At this point, I want to be an example and a voice for the girls who are doing it but think they can’t. Modeling isn’t about how you look: It’s about selling a product. I know that doesn’t sound glamorous, but it’s hard work. What people don’t see is chasing jobs, dealing with rejection, and getting picked and prodded at. Have you seen significant changes in the industry over the past five years? I’ve seen some changes already. For example, when I started, I was told not to disclose that I had a kid. But now, you see moms breastfeeding on the runway and all sorts of campaigns. But my daughter is 10 years old now, so it took a while for that change to take place. I hope to continue to be a changemaker and a voice. You also host a YouTube series titled “Let’s Talk About It,” where you and Faiven Feshazion talk about topics from identity to hair. How did that get started? That’s always really brutal: doing all that work and getting 30 views [laughs]. Initially, we started as just a girl’s night conversation about things bothering us on IG Live. We had too much to talk about, so we went from Instagram to a different platform. It’s something we both had the time for during the pandemic, and we wanted to talk about real stuff. We have candid conversations about any and everything — nothing is taboo. For instance, we had a recent episode go up titled, “Am I Still Gay?” because I’m engaged to a man, and a lot of people think your sexual identity is tied to your partner. Our goal is to have those conversations and hold space for the types of topics people are discussing. You’ve done some shoots with your daughter (and fiancé, too). Does she have any interest in following in your footsteps? People ask me all the time if I would want [my daughter] to model, and the answer is absolutely not. She has no desire to be a fulltime model and I don’t push her to be one. The jobs we do get, she knows those are to start college savings early, and she also gets to spend a little bit of what she makes. A lot of money is going to [anime] cosplay, currently. She’s really into video editing these days. I feel like whatever she does, she’ll be behind the scenes. Oh, she’s into anime [Ed. note: So is our interviewer]. What’s the flavor of the month right now? “Demon Slayer” just came out, but it was rated R. I wanted to take her, but I [also] wanted to be able to take a nap. C’mon, Mom! I’m not into anime. I used to watch Pokémon. I had the holographics! Well, did you take her to see the movie? Yeah, we went. They said the characters were immature, but some of the violence was gory. I wasn’t able to sleep because I had to assess the violence the whole time. Personally, I thought it was fine. Follow Cunningham @alexundone and her “Let’s Talk About It” series @oohletstalkaboutit on Instagram. DISTRICT FRAY | 91
What’s your favorite aspect of modeling? I’m not behind a desk and get to do something different every time with creative and artsy people. Least favorite? The fatphobia, racism, ageism, etc. What’s the coolest piece of fashion you own? I bought these completely exaggerated Miista square-toe boots, and I love them so much. What’s the least practical piece of clothing you own? It’s this top I got from Instagram. It’s really nice, but it’s made for people with no boobs. So if you have mom boobs, it doesn’t really stay put. When I wear it, I have to put everyone around me on boob watch. It’s a nice top, but it’s not functional. You know: fashion. What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done? There was a peacock on set and I had to pour alcohol blindfolded. [I’m] not sure how they tied the peacock into the brand. What’s the strangest prop you’ve dealt with? Every now and then, you do a job that makes your soul die, but it’s usually just over-the-top makeup and wigs. What’s a line of advice that stuck with you? There’s an Oprah quote. I’m going to butcher it, but she said: When you see someone dolled up, you attach a certain feeling to the look. And when you find yourself dressed up and elevated in this position, you discover you don’t feel how they look. I took it to mean: We all look at other people and assign how it feels to look that way, even if it’s not true. None of us feel how they look. I think [the quote] is about imposter syndrome. What’s your favorite hangout spot in D.C.? There’s a restaurant called CHIKO, and it’s so good. All my favorite spots are food-related [laughs]. What was the moment you realized you made it as a model? I got a check so big that I had to call my bank to get the daily deposit amount raised. It felt so good, but it also took five years. 92 | JULY 2021
Alexandra Cunningham with fiancé Joe Marshall and daughter Lily. Photo courtesy of subject.
DISTRICT FRAY |
WELCOME BACK! BIG TONY AND TROUBLE FUNK WITH SPECIAL GUEST SUGAR BEAR THE LEGENDARY DJ KOOL
THE WAR AND TREATY CONOR & THE WILD HUNT JUL 29
STRAIGHT NO CHASER AUG 4
STARias: OPERA’S MOST POWERFUL MOMENTS
WOLF TRAP OPERA ARTISTS AND ALUMNI NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
24 + 25
WITH MEMBERS OF THE KNIGHTS
JUL THE ARTEMIS TOUR
LINDSEY STIRLING KIESZA AUG 5
ABBA THE CONCERT AUG 15
JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS
A TRIBUTE TO MARVIN GAYE FEATURING
RAHEEM DeVAUGHN AND FRIENDS
DALEY, ERIC ROBERSON, YAHZARAH, BEE BOISSEAU, ATTINSHUN BAND, MICAH ROBINSON, AND CHUCK BROWN BAND
VERTICAL HORIZON AUG 19
YACHT ROCK REVUE
THE HOT DADS IN TIGHT JEANS TOUR
INDIGO GIRLS | ANI DiFRANCO
MORE PERFORMANCES TO BE ANNOUNCED!
TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD REBIRTH BRASS BRAND
JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT WAXAHATCHEE SEP 14
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
WOLFTRAP.ORG DISTRICT FRAY |