Metro Weekly

D.C.’s Big Pride Weekend: Every Way to Celebrate Capital Pride

It may not be a traditional Pride celebration in Washington, but there's plenty to keep your LGBTQ spirits soaring.

Credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr

This weekend, the streets of D.C. are sure to be bustling from daybreak to well past midnight to a degree not seen in over 15 months. However coincidental the decision may have been, city officials certainly gave LGBTQ Washingtonians a little symbolic gift in officially lifting all pandemic-necessitated curfews and restrictions on Friday, June 11, just in time to celebrate what is traditionally the main weekend of Capital Pride. As a result, we can all do that in 2021 in almost traditional fashion.

We say “almost” because this year’s official festivities forego the two main events of Capital Pride, with no culminating Sunday festival, concert, and dance party on Pennsylvania Avenue. And instead of the traditional Pride Parade, following a clearly marked route of blocked-off city streets, this Saturday, June 12, brings a Pridemobile Parade, a caravan of decorated vehicles from registered participants following behind an official trolley cruising around city streets from 3 to 6 p.m. (Click here to see the specific route.) Preceding the parade is a Pride Walk & Rally with pride-goers journeying by foot, bike, or rollerblades, stepping off from Dupont Circle at 12:30 p.m. over to Logan Circle then down to Freedom Plaza for a rally with music from 2 p.m. until the Pridemobile trolley gets rolling.

Read MorePridemobile Route and Pride Walk: Everything you need to know

If you aren’t fully vaccinated or just aren’t fully ready for Prideful engagement en masse, there remain plenty of other activities to participate in, some of them virtual. Anyone can plot their own self-guided tour to see the public-facing decorations of houses and businesses throughout the city participating in the Paint the Town Colorful with Pride promotion running all Pride month long. Virtual options to keep you feeling safely Prideful this weekend include two shabbats — Sixth and I’s National Pride Shabbat, an inclusive service presented by the Sixth and I LGBTQIA Collective and led by Rabbi Aaron Potek, honoring Capital Pride and celebrating the diversity of D.C. Jewish life (6/11, 7 p.m., www.sixthandi.org), and GLOE’s Pride Shabbat, co-presented by GLOE of the Edlavitch DCJCC, Bet Mishpachah, and Nice Jewish Boys and Nice Jewish Girls, and co-led by Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin and musician/singer Robyn Helzner (6/11, 8 p.m., www.edcjcc.org).

Pride at PGCMLS: Drag Bingo + Happy Hour features Emerald Star and other local queens presented by the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (6/11, 5:30 p.m., www.pgcmls.info/pride). ALX Pride: Ọmọlará Williams McCallister’s “We, Too, Sing America” is a “multisensory installation” of Target Gallery fiber-based artist intended to serve as “a memorial to the small everyday acts…undertaken [to weather] the storms of COVID, of white supremacist anti-Black terror, [and] of the intersecting forms of oppression,” part of Torpedo Factory Art Center’s The Late Shift Online (6/11, 7 p.m., www.torpedofactory.org); and the DC Public Library’s Drag Family Story Time with Domingø, Arma Dura, and Katie Magician (6/12, 11 a.m., www.dclibrary.org/dcpride).

For the rest of us fully inoculated and thoroughly in need of social interaction and pride reinforcement, our prolonged bout of collective hibernation officially ends Friday, June 11, at Compass Coffee’s new factory in Ivy City (1401 Okie St. NE), a complex of multiple levels with both indoor and outdoor spaces that will host two different events that evening. Starting at 7 p.m. is the annual Capital Pride Honors award ceremony that also includes a virtual appearance by the D.C.-based pop trio Shaed plus hors d’oeuvres and dessert stations and a cash bar ($25, or $45 including open bar). That’s followed at 10 p.m. with the Be Colorful: Opening Party and what organizers are touting as the weekend’s largest outdoor dance floor, which will be served with beats by DJ Chord as well as lewks and shows by a bevy of local performers led by KC B. Yoncé and Jazzmin St. James D’Monaco. The event is officially sold out, although more tickets might be released the morning of the party. (Visit www.capitalpride.org/opening-party.)

Of course you can plot your comeback to strike much earlier that day — and also stay out later that night — by popping into some of your favorite local gay watering holes. Most venues are back up and running at normal hours and with regular fare. As a helpful reminder of what’s out there awaiting your patronage, the list includes Trade, Nellie’s Sports Bar, Green Lantern, Number Nine, Wunder Garten, Red Bear Brewing Company, Shaw’s Tavern, Pitchers & A League of Her Own, Uproar, Larry’s Lounge, Club ZŌ, Dirty Goose, JR.’s, Annie’s, Duplex Diner, Dupont Italian Kitchen, and Freddie’s Beach Bar.

When you arise, hangover in place, after your night of bar-hopping on Sunday, honor your gay heritage (and soothe that hangover) with brunch. This year, Capital Pride aims to assist in the cause with its first-ever Taste of Pride Brunch, featuring special food items, drink specials, and entertainment at a select group of local restaurants committed to supporting Pride and LGBTQ causes. The 11-member inaugural lineup includes everyone’s favorite gay-owned spot in Northern Virginia, Freddie’s, the gay-owned NoMa destination for al fresco food and fun, Wunder Garten, two prime spots on the Wharf — Officina and Rappahanock Oyster Bar — as well as Petworth’s Taqueria del Barrio, neighborhood staple Shaw’s Tavern, and a handful of hotspots along the 14th Street strip: Tico, Doi Moi, Le Diplomate, Stoney’s on P, and Hedy’s Rooftop.

Throughout the month of Pride, another way to show support is by following the Cocktail Parade promotion. Pride sponsor Tito’s Handmade Vodka will donate up to $10,000 to Capital Pride, including $1 for every designated drink you cross off a checklist of 22 participating venues, including creative concoctions at several LGBTQ favorites — from the Annie Darling at Annie’s to Hanky Panky at Hank’s to Key Lime Shenanigans at Commissary, as well as the C’est Si Bon at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, the Greyhound, First Class at Red Light Bar, Lychee Ginger Cooler at The Commodore DC, Thyme to Bloom at Agora, Ride The Rainbow at Hotel Zena, Tito’s Greyhound at Stoney’s, and V.O.G.U.E. at Bidwell. Download your card at www.capitalpride.org/cocktail-parade and get drinking!

There are other Pride-related specials at restaurants around town beyond the official Pride Brunch, including a Pride Brunch at Bourbon Steak DC in Georgetown’s swanky Four Seasons, a benefit for the Equality Chamber of Commerce with a bottomless rosé or champagne option, and entertainment from DJ Tezrah and performer Logan Stone on Saturday, June 12, and DJ Farrah Flosscett with KC B. Yoncé on Sunday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. Another is the Punch of Pride promotion at all restaurants in the growing local LGBTQ-owned chain KNEAD Hospitality + Design, which will donate a portion of sales of all purchases of punch ordered this weekend to Capital Pride and other LGBTQ charities. Varieties including Belle’s Punch at Succotash, Ponche de Lola at Mi Vida, Grill Punch at The Grill, and Greta’s Punch at Gatsby (6/12-6/13, www.kneadhd.com).

Other activities this weekend include the return of ALX Pride, an annual community-focused event celebrating local LGBTQ-identifying creatives at Old Town’s Torpedo Factory Art Center, this year with outdoor displays of UHAULED, a pop-up installation with five U-Haul trucks as makeshift gallery spaces for queer artists Mary Claire Philips, Clara Dorfi, Mariah Miranda, Rex Delafkaran, and creator and curator Cat Baker (6/11, 7 to 9 p.m., Union Street side). Pride Art Projects and Safe Space NOVA offers information about the artists and art projects available at the Torpedo center and also local efforts to support LGBTQ friends and family (6/11, 7 to 9 p.m., Waterfront side).

The outdoor concert “Pride on the Steps of National City Christian Church” features a live performance by Potomac Fever, the acappella ensemble of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, followed by a local bluegrass band (6/12, 3 p.m., 5 Thomas Circle NW). Georgetown GLOW Meet The Artist: Stephanie Mercedes “The Weight of a Rainbow” features suspended rainbow lights synced to an LGBTQ a cappella choir set up in the alleyway of Georgetown Park Plaza, where this 2021 Spring GLOW light artist will be on hand (6/12, 7 to 9 p.m., 3276 M St. NW, www.georgetownglowdc.com). Maryland’s PAWrade and Canine Costume Contest is a festival for pups and their humans hosted by Bark Social, the dog-friendly beer garden and coffee house at Pike & Rose, and features Montgomery County councilmember Evan Glass, with proceeds benefiting MoCo ReConnect and its work in creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ youth (6/12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 935 Prose St., North Bethesda, www.barksocial.com). Celebrate Pride at 3 Stars Brewing features DJ Rosie Hicks, Belladonna, Ken Vegas, and a whole Raven’s Night crew of fusion belly dancers and drag kings (6/13, noon to 8 p.m., 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, www.3starsbrewing.com).

Keep your pride spirit going well into next week and beyond with in-person events including Chamber Connect: Play on Pride, an Equality Chamber of Commerce event featuring music by Jaylatay, desserts, including “Pride Cup Cakes” by Mr. Bake plus swag from IKEA, all hosted at the downtown hotel Moxy DC (6/17, 6:30 p.m., 1011 K St. NW, www.eccdc.biz). Aaron Myers, the local gay jazz vocalist and pianist will appear at two in-person events to support his new The Pride Album. The first is a screening of a documentary from Mecca Filmworks about the album’s making followed by a panel discussion with the Center for Black Equity at the Eaton Hotel (6/19, 4 p.m. www.aaron2.me/pride). it’s followed two days later by the first official live performance of the album featuring Myers accompanied by a four-piece band presented by Blues Alley at the National Press Club (6/21, 8 p.m.).

Rainbow Ride DC is a fundraiser for HIPS presented by the ANC Rainbow Caucus, Greater Greater Washington, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Lime. The inaugural 10-mile bike ride highlights Black and LGBTQ sites of historical significance, starting in Anacostia Park and ending at Freedom Plaza (6/26, 1 p.m., www.wonkpolicy.com/rainbowride2021). Sandy Spring’s The Adventure Park, the largest man-made outdoor climbing park in the world, presents an adults-only night-climbing and ziplining event with Keep It Lit Pride Night (6/26, 6 to 11 p.m.; www.sandyspringadventurepark.org). Growing Pride at The Garden ALX features 15 local LGBTQ makers, plus food trucks, live music, and kids’ crafts, all as a benefit for Safe Space NOVA, at The Garden on Eisenhower Avenue (6/27, 2 to 7 p.m., 5380 Eisenhower Ave., www.thegarden.net).

There are plenty of ancillary nightlife events planned for the weekend and beyond, including Avalon Saturdays: Pride 2021. Dougie Meyers is back in action with his weekly party at Soundcheck, kicking off with an already sold out party with DJs J Warren and Joe Pacheco plus opening set by Conner Curnick plus a guest appearance by Tatianna (6/12, 9 p.m.; 1420 K St. NW, www.dougiemeyerpresents.com). Meyers is affiliating with La Fantasy and Takeover for two nights of events, including the Uncut Blackout Warehouse Pride Party (6/11, 10 p.m.), a party with three play zones, clothes check, and dancing to DJ Dan Slater at a “Secret Warehouse TBA Night Of,” and Spilled, a “Mega Tea Dance” with DJs Alex Acosta and Blacklow and a performance by Scarlet Envy from RuPaul’s All Stars at Karma (6/12, from 2 to 9 p.m., 2221 Adams Pl. NE). Tickets are sold out except for a combo pass to both parties. Visit www.dcpride2021.com.

LOBO! at Green Lantern is geared toward puppies and other furry and kinky queers along with their handlers, co-presented by the Cherry Fund, and featuring DJs Jake Maxwell and Phoenix Rise (6/11, www.greenlanterndc.com). House of Colour is the first of two collaborations between the Flashy Group and the Cherry Fund, this one to transform Hook Hall’s warehouse-like space into a club with beats by DJs TWiN and Tezrah, which is already officially sold out (6/12, 10 p.m., 3400 Georgia Ave. NW, https://the-flashy-group.ticketleap.com). Meanwhile, House of Sound is an Afterhours & Rooftop Sunrise Party presented by Flashy and Cherry and featuring beats by Sean Morris, Isaac Escalante, and Shane Marcus, back at Flash, with tickets still available as of press time (6/13, 4 to 10 a.m., 645 Florida Ave. NW). Sleaze: Unlocked, featuring DJs Lemz and Keenan Orr with host Jane Saw, reemerges for a special, supersized Sleaze at DC9. Although advanced tickets sold out in a day, organizers suggest arriving “at 9 p.m. sharp” to snatch the “very limited” tickets at the door (6/17, 1940 9th St. NW, www.facebook.com/SleazePartyDC). Also at DC9, DJ Matt Bailer’s Peach Pit also sold out of advanced tickets well in advance (6/19, 10:30 p.m., www.dcnine.com). Meanwhile, tickets can still be had of Bailer’s other, newer monthly party at DC9, Shady Pines, the ’80s Rooftop Afternoon Tea Dance (6/20, www.dcnine.com).

To make up for last year’s lost Pride, you could do worse than close out the month seeking a pride farther afield. For something completely different, yet not too far away, check out Reston Pride. The festival kicks off on Saturday, June 19, at 10 a.m., with performers including dancer Yauri Dalencour, vocalists with the Reston Community Players, drag acts Regina Jozet Adams and Ashlee Jozet Adams, DJ/performer C Squared Entertainment, and ending with Pauline and Davi AnsonDross’ popular local band Wicked Jezabel. Visit www.restonpride.org.

Read More:

Pridemobile Route and Pride Walk: Everything you need to know

Capital Pride Alliance names Pride Honors award recipients

Annual Pride Run 5K will be virtual this year, but organizers will also host optional in-person runs

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