“We don’t have a specific pride night, but we have all these gay icon nights,” says Ben McEvoy, events coordinator at Wunder Garten. “That’s pretty much just as gay.”
Indeed, the popular, sprawling beer garden in NoMa will celebrate the music of three contemporary pop divas in February, one per night the first three Saturdays of the month: Beyoncé, Britney, and Taylor. This veritable triumvirate is all but certain to lure in the gays. Throw in an unofficial fourth diva and a bonus night the second weekend in February for what you could call a Super Sweetheart Deal, with Rihanna’s Half Time Show during the Super Bowl on Feb. 12.
Over the years, the shortest month of the year has become one of the most active at Wunder Garten, at least in terms of scheduled activities — all courtesy of the venue’s annual month-long Après Ski slate of events. And this year promises to be bigger than ever.
In previous years, McEvoy says, “We didn’t have much in the way of ski lodge decorations. It still felt like a beer garden. So I’ve definitely added my decorating flavor. And because I’m from the Northeast, I know what ski lodges look like. It definitely will have more of a ski lodge feel.
“Basically, Après Ski is, you go drinking after skiing,” continues the Massachusetts native. “Just dress like you’re coming off the slopes.” You can be as out there as you want with your attire, though McEvoy, when asked for suggestions, rattles off a list that, on their own, aren’t particularly out there.
“Wear a winter hat, a beanie, ski goggles if you got ’em. Big puffy jackets, boots, earmuffs, a winter headband, anything like that.”
Guests are encouraged to dress up even more for the many themed dance parties planned this year, beyond all the divas on Saturdays.
In fact, there are DJ-driven dance parties every Friday night of Après Ski this year, kicking off this Friday, Feb. 3, with a ’90s-themed event, followed by an ’80s-themed night the third Friday, Feb. 17.
In between comes a Shrek Dance Party, with gift cards given to the best-dressed guests in costume as their favorite Shrek character. As a Shrek-head, McEvoy is most looking forward to this new addition on Friday, Feb. 10. When asked who he intends to dress up as, he answers, “I’m torn between the Gingerbread Man, one of the Three Blind Mice, or just wearing some Shrek ears.”
Tthe last weekend in February is dedicated to music of the ’70s, and more specifically, to disco — from the Studio 54 party planned for Friday, Feb. 24, to the Gimme Gimme Gimme ABBA Dance Party on Saturday, Feb. 25.
DJs will also be on tap the last two Sundays of the month for afternoon Tea Dance Parties from 1 to 5 p.m., touted as outings of “chill ambient vibes to fight the Sunday Scaries.”
Sundays have long been known as dog days at Wunder Garten, with its popular Sunday Yappy Hours. The first two Sundays of Après Ski should be especially yappy, as the venue has partnered with Duncan Dog Hotel to dole out prizes for Best Dressed Dogs and Best Tricks.
This year also introduces Smores Sundays, with pre-packaged smores kits for sale. Wunder Garten has also revived and revamped its Hot Chocolate Bar, available every day during Après Ski. Also new this year: shot skis. “We built shot glasses into an old ski, so four people can take a shot at once,” explains McEvoy.
Après Ski is Friday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 26. Wunder Garten is at 1101 First St. NE. Free. For the full schedule of events, visit www.wundergartendc.com.
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