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“People think it’s karaoke, but it’s not karaoke,” Regie Cabico says about the weekly variety show he runs at Black Fox Lounge. “You really do need to know your song, you need to know what you’re singing.” In fact, La-Ti-Do isn’t just cabaret, either. In addition to higher-quality singing than most impromptu karaoke, Cabico and his co-host DonMike Mendoza also select storytellers who offer spoken-word poetry and comedy.
The performance-art mix at La-Ti-Do is a reflection of both Cabico’s and Mendoza’s experiences trying to make it in the world of theater in New York and D.C. “There are no parts for gay Filipino guys,” Cabico says frankly. So, with La-Ti-Do the two created their own venue with the consent of Black Fox Lounge co-owner Russwin Francisco, also a gay Filipino. “By default it’s almost like an Asian theater company,” Cabico says.
A native of the Baltimore area, Cabico earned a theater degree from New York University and lived in the nation’s theater capital for nearly two decades forging his own path as a spoken-word artist and teacher. A few years after moving to D.C. he teamed up with Busboys & Poets to start a queer open-mike event that he co-hosts with Danielle Evennou. Held the first Sunday of the month at the 5th and K Streets NW location, Sparkle was developed to be “a safe space for queer poets.”
“I would say that within the last five years I’ve nurtured a lot of spoken-word poets,” says Cabico of his work with Busboys & Poets, but also with the annual poetry festivals Split This Rock and Capturing Fire. These days he’s also trying to expand opportunities for spoken-word poets in the realm of theater by pushing theater’s boundaries, chiefly as the director of New Form Development at No Rules Theatre Company.
“I think slam poetry is an American art form just like jazz,” says Cabico. “It’s our political theater.”
La-Ti-Do is every Monday at Black Fox Lounge, 1723 Connecticut Ave. NW, and costs $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Call 202-483-1723 or visit blackfoxlounge.com. The next Sparkle is Sunday, April 6, at 8 p.m., Busboys & Poets, 1025 5th St. NW. Admission is $5. Call 202-789-2227 or visit busboysandpoets.com.