“Pride is an opportunity to come together with people you love and people who love you,” says local club impresario Ed Bailey. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate who you are in a safe and maybe exaggeratedly exuberant way, maybe in a way that you don’t have an opportunity to do the rest of the year.”
Bailey has been a significant part of 10 different ventures in the last 25 years, including the storied mega-clubs Tracks and Velvet Nation. His current roster, with business partners Jon Guggenmos and Chachi Boyle, includes Town, Number Nine and Trade.
“Over the years, I’ve certainly seen Pride take on, at times, a much more political tone,” Bailey says. Of course, few years can top 2017 in that regard. If nothing else, Bailey is hopeful that “maybe the legacy of Donald Trump is that he’s going to actually help the gay community become a better version than we’ve ever been before, because we’re finally asking the hard questions. Are we going to rise up? Are we going to band together? Are we going to finally, more fully integrate our community to look out for every person that we can?”
Remaining neutral — or, at least, offering refuge from the harsh political reality — is sometimes difficult for Bailey.
“I feel conflicted at times, because I want to [be part of] the political conversation,” he says. “At the same time, after all is said and done, we’re nightclubs. We are, at some level, supposed to be about escaping the heaviness of all of that — being a place to kind of get away from it.”
Town offers all of that and more this weekend, with highlights including a Friday night party celebrating local sensation Tatianna of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, along with the other Ladies of Town — Shi-Queeta Lee, Riley Knoxx, Ba’Naka and Lena Lett — adult film actor Boomer Banks, the Town GoGo Boys, and DJs Wess and BacK2bACk, all starting at 9 p.m. The Ladies of Town also kickoff the Saturday night festivities, when Andrew Christian models Arad, Corey Hayes, James Gao and Corey Lee will titillate patrons in between dancing to the grooves of DJs Wess downstairs and Drew G and Ed Bailey upstairs.
Town is one of several places offering a full weekend of fun. Cobalt, for example, has programmed each night based on a different color of the rainbow. Highlights include a $500 “Wild, Wild Boys” Best Body Contest featuring Nasty Pig Underwear on “Green = Nature” Thursday; Grey Goose specials and DJs MadScience and Keenan Orr on “Blue = Harmony” Friday; DJs Steve Sidewalk and Pacifico and more Grey Goose specials on “Purple = Spirit” Saturday; and DJ Power Infiniti, VJ MadScience and a performance by Miss Kitty Meow for the official Capital Pride Closing Party Sunday.
In Southeast D.C.’s famed two-club complex, Secrets will offer a 20-gun salute — of the nude male variety — with live music and dancing courtesy of DJs Rob3G and Rosie on Friday and tim’e on Saturday. Downstairs, Ziegfeld’s has the Ladies of Illusion headlined by Kristina Kelly on Friday and Leading Lady Ella Fitzgerald on Saturday. Miss Ziegfeld’s 2017 Alessandra Conde and DJ Don T. are featured both nights.
More than six months in the making, Bruce Yelk’s DistrktC will turn the DC Eagle into a de-facto two-day dance music festival Pride weekend, launching Saturday at 10 p.m. with the Official Men’s Party of Capital Pride and featuring DJs Grind, Joe Gauthreaux and Jared Conner, as well as a performance by Inaya Day. Sunday starts on the outdoor courtyard at 5 p.m. with a “Disco & Classics” party featuring DJ Billy Carroll, while indoors the party kicks off at 6 p.m. with a T-Dance featuring Roland Belmares. After Miley Cyrus ends her set on the Festival’s Capitol Stage, there’s a parade of ’90s-minted club divas — Crystal Waters, Kristine W and Kim English — on offer at 8:30 p.m. Amuka performs later that evening during the DC2 party with DJs Morabito, Twisted D and X Gonzalez.
U Street Music Hall is also offering back-to-back Pride offerings starting at 10 p.m. on Friday. First comes “the city’s witchiest LGBTQIA+ dance party,” The Coven, a queer women-focused party featuring DJs Mim and Cyd. On Saturday U-Hall welcomes German techno/electro-house DJ Alex Ridha aka Boys Noize, plus opening sets, starting at 9 p.m., from local DJs Outputmessage, Keenan Orr, Lemz and David Hamilton.
The Yards location of Vida Fitness will host a Rooftop Pool Party starting at 7 p.m. Trade will offer its signature XL cocktails and $4 beer, wine and bubbly from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, with live music by DJ Bil Todd at 9 p.m. The evening also ushers in another monthly edition of Sleaze at Wonderland Ballroom, a “Taste Our Rainbow” local lineup featuring DJs Tommy Cornelis, Barber Streisand, Keenan Orr, and promoter Lemz, with a special performance by Pittsburgh’s Moon Baby, all starting at 9 p.m. Flash presents a special free Flashy Thursday party with DJ TWiN starting at 10 p.m. JR.’s presents a ’90s Flashback Pride Party starting at 8 p.m. with $6 Stoli drinks all night — unless you’re a redhead, when Ginger Pride grants gingers free Stoli from 10 to 11 p.m. For something a little different, Ba’naka hosts a screening at 7 p.m. of Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar at Nellie’s. But arguably, one of the hottest events on Thursday night will be Latino Pride’s La Fiesta at Town, with special performers and DJs starting at 9 p.m.
The Wunder Garten in NoMa has concocted a crafty way to lure people into helping them decorate their float: with a DJ party and drink specials. That starts at 6:30 p.m. DC Bear Crue’s happy hour at Town runs an hour earlier than usual — starting at 5 p.m., with final entry at 8:30 p.m. — so that the downstairs can prepare for the Pride parties. Speaking of which, Ultra Nate, Cupcake and ’80s pop star Tiffany perform for the Official Opening Party, the Rainbow Resistance Episode XXX: “The Glampire Strikes Back,” co-presented by Brightest Young Things at the Rainbow Warehouse, 1585 New York Ave. NE., at 9 p.m. Freddie’s Beach Bar presents a concert by the popular local lesbian covers band Wicked Jezebel starting at 8 p.m. And that’s also the start time for a RuPaul’s Drag Race watch party at the 18th and U Duplex Diner, when the venue serves $8 Sissy That Squeezes.
Another Friday highlight is Green Lantern’s hirsute-oriented Otter Crossing, which once again features indie-pop recording artist Bright Light Bright Light spinning prideful club classics as the night’s main DJ, bookended with sets from Shea Van Horn and resident StrikeStone, all starting at 9 p.m. Other Friday offerings: 2-4-1 drinks from 5 to 9 p.m. at Number Nine followed by Friday Night Videos with VJ Chord Bezerra and $5 Absolut/Bulleit drinks; DJs Mikey Adolphson at 8 p.m. and Dean Sullivan at 11 p.m. at Trade; Furball DC Pride featuring Seth Breezy and StrikeStone starts at 10 p.m. at the DC Eagle ($10); the Booty Rex Pride Party starting at 9 p.m. at the Black Cat and featuring DJ Alex DB, the Anthology of Booty DJ Crew — Kristy la Rat, Mothershiester, Natty Boom, Indanile and bent — as well as She Rex DJs — Junebullet, C.rush, Coach — plus MC Alesia Michelle, Nubian Spin conjuring Hula Hoop Magic and face painting by Anika & Adeela; and Matt Bailer as part of a 10-Year Anniversary party starting at 8 p.m. at Nellie’s.
You could start the day at the Duplex Diner with brunch starting at 11 a.m. or Brunch Happy Hour from 2 to 5 p.m., the latter offering half-price brunch cocktails. Of course there are plenty of options for day drinking and watching the parade, including outside The Fireplace near the kickoff and also next to the Review Stand at 15th and P Street courtesy of Whole Foods. Across the street, Number Nine offers DJ Jack Rayburn from 3 to 9:30 p.m., followed by BacK2bACk and $5 Absolut/Bulleit drinks the remainder of the night. Down the block comes the first-ever free Capital Pride Block Party featuring a beer garden and smoothies from McDonald’s, live music by DJs Steve Sidewalk and Sean Morris, and a special performance by Brian Justin Crum, from 4 to 10 p.m. If you need a break from the parade and crowds, you could venture down 14th Street to Trade, which opens at noon on Saturday, though the DJs (Khelan Bhatia and Jeff Prior) won’t start until the usual 8 p.m. On 17th Street, popular options include JR.’s, with its Beer Garden and Dance Festival from 1 to 10 p.m., and Cobalt, which opens at noon and features DJ Mikey Mo starting at 3 p.m. in the Lounge.
One particular highlight immediately after the parade is the Trumpets Pop Up Reunion, to be held at Quarter+Glory, 2017 14th St. NW. The former 17th Street subterranean restaurant and bar will be revived in spirit in this new craft cocktail bar with hosts David Hagedorn and Janet Williams, guest bartenders Jeanne Topper and Francki DiFrancesco and DJ Kostas, all benefiting the Human Rights Campaign. For younger crowds, SMYAL co-hosts a free Youth Dance from 6 to 9 p.m. at National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW.
The Howard Theatre hosts Fuse, Capital Pride’s Women’s Main Event, starting at 10 p.m. on Saturday and featuring DJs Jai Syncere, Tezrah and Elet()x and the DystRucXion Dancers with special guests Collabo. For a more alternative — or at least underground — dance party, there’s the TNX Pride party featuring The NeedlExchange DJs Lisa Frank, Bil Todd, Tommy Cornelis, and Baronhawk Poitier, plus D.C.’s Jacq Jill and Detroit’s Minx, starting at 9 p.m. and lasting until sunrise, at 2046 West Virginia Ave. NE. After 11 p.m. the 9:30 Club hosts the Pride edition of the popular roving party Mixtape featuring residents Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer. Meanwhile, there’s Bears Can Dance — and they’ll prove it — at local organization 495 Bears’ free party at Green Lantern. If you’re looking for something lower key, but that still makes you wiggle, it’s a Lemz vs. Vodkatrina night at Nellie’s.
If you feel the need to keep on dancing — without compromising our community’s need for you to be visible the next day — Cherry presents the Official Pride Afterhours Rise at Flash featuring DJs Isaac Escalante and X Gonzalez from 4 to 9:30 a.m. ($60).
The Equality March for Unity and Pride steps off at 10 a.m. on Sunday, but if you need a little reinforcement on your way there, Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw starts serving select beers, including DC Brau Brewing Pride Pils, champagne, wines and cocktails at 9 a.m. — as well as coffee, Bullfrog Bagels and Rainbow Pride Pretzels from the Pretzel Bakery.
There are many options for closing out the weekend with a bang. If you want to get Sunday Funday started early — post-March and Festival — there’s JR.’s with $3 Skyy Highballs and Coors Light. Week in, week out, the bears flock to Uproar on Sunday. The Town Patio will open at 2 p.m., making a Shaw bar crawl also including Nellie’s and the Dirty Goose possible. The Town Danceboutique also opens at 9 p.m. for a special Sunday night of dancing with DJs BacK2bACk. And Trade opens at noon for the day, although the true party doesn’t start until 8 p.m. with the Donna Slash Birthday Bash featuring Pussy Noir, Janesaw and music by Kris Sutton and Wess.
If you’ve still got skin in the game, Secrets is but one of two bare-all places. The other is Rock Hard DC on Georgia Avenue NW, featuring more than 10 “all male, all nude” dancers on three stages nonstop. And if you feel like grinning and baring it yourself, there’s the Green Lantern and Sunday night’s Jox: The GL Underwear Party starting at 9 p.m. Drinks? Half-naked men? Not a bad way to wrap up a Pride-filled weekend.
Additional information on select events, such as cover charges and drink specials, can be found in our Nightlife listings.
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