Bhlen’s Launch Party and Networking Event

You’ve heard about Bhlen and you want to know how this amazing website/app works and where you can get it. Find out by coming to our official launch party from 5 to 10 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 2, at the fabulous Saint Yves, 1220 Connecticut Ave. NW.

If you haven’t heard, Bhlen, an Arlington, VA-based startup, is a website and mobile app that helps everyone enjoy nightlife in the DMV like a local. We connect business and leisure travelers, social butterflies and anyone looking for something fun to do with venues, promoters and event organizers. All it takes is one simple tap.

Join Bhlen’s creators at our kickoff event Friday where you’ll learn about everything this app can do for you, your friends, your co-workers and anyone who visits you in the D.C. area.

Special guest for this event will include the organizers of DMV Black Restaurant Week (Nov. 4-11) and Cocktail Week 2018 (Nov. 12-16), sponsored by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

The first-ever DMV Black Restaurant Week will feature events throughout the week such as the R.R. Bowie Cocktail Competition and Cocktails & Conversations. Over 40 participating venues will offer a discounted lunch menu and fixed-price dinner options to patrons all week long.

Organizers also plan to bring black restaurant owners, managers, chefs, caterers, thought leaders and financiers together to talk about the future of black-owned and managed bars and restaurants throughout the DMV. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 47.1 percent of the D.C. population is black, but DMV-BRW organizers report that only 8 percent of restaurants are owned or managed by black people. Organizers are hosting a day-long continuing education event Saturday featuring many programs and presentations, including the Legacy of Black Chefs and Black People in Wine.

DC Cocktail Week is a must for those who eschew local brews in favor of a creative, handcrafted cocktail prepared by a dedicated mixologist. More than 60 bars and restaurants are participating, many offering pairings with tasty bites such as tacos, salads, chicken and shrimp.

These three events are big ones, but once you check out the Bhlen app, you’ll see how easy it is to find hundreds of other events happening throughout the DMV any day or night of the week.

See you Friday!

 

Skulls, Music & Modelo Combine to Make an Unforgettable Dia de los Muertos

Last weekend’s nor’easter retreated just in time for Dia del Muertos festivities to begin on the Wharf, which was a big relief for Jennifer Currie, public events and branding specialist for Wharf DC.

“We’re very pleased with the turnout even though it rained,” Currie said. “At exactly 2:05, the sun came out — we couldn’t have been luckier!”

Although the sky over the Potomac was still gray and overcast at 4 p.m., streaks of sunlight sliced through and hit the brick alleyway where the event was held like a prism, bringing life to vivid colors of painted skulls, flags and flowers. It was a perfect metaphor for the triumph of joy over death — which is, of course, the purpose of Day of the Dead, a 3,000-year-old Mexican religious holiday in which the departed return to visit loved ones.

This is the first year for Dia de los Muertos on the Wharf, and it’s off to a good start.

“It’s been amazing,” Currie said. “We’ve had a great response on Facebook.”

Currie is also publisher of “On Tap” magazine, which coordinated the event, cosponsored by Casa Modelo Mexican beer.

A centerpiece of the holiday is the creation of altars to both celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones and to welcome their returning spirits with food, drink and sweets — particularly sugared and marzipan skulls. Each restaurant along the alley contributed an altar decorated with a unique theme. Festival goers were asked to vote for their favorite.

Music hall Pearl Street Warehouse set up an altar honoring departed musicians, the latest honorees including Aretha Franklin, Merle Haggard, Prince and David Bowie. The shrine featured a collage of legendary artists such as John Lennon and Dizzy Gillespie alongside a skeleton playing — what else — a guitar. One of the managers, Lori Beth Kightlinger, set it up.

“We wanted to honor musicians because we’re a music venue,” she said. “Every genre is included because everyone who works here selected a musician.”

Of course, the festival also had live musicians. Two hours in, a laid-back crowd of about 75 people enjoyed $6 Modelos, $10 tacos and three-for-$5 churros while they swayed to smooth rhythms from DJ Blindstares.

Forty-five minutes later, the elbow room decreased and the tempo sped up as D.C. favorites, Latin band La Unica, took the stage, drawing more people out of restaurants and off the riverside walkway with strings, percussion and soaring vocals. By 5 p.m., the dance floor was gyrating.

Amigos Oswaldo Chelapilleta, Candela Baile and Julien Gaston were all smiles as they drank Modela Negra at a small draped table near the stage. Chelapilleta expertly painted his face as a festive skull to enter the contest, but did not win. 

He pointed to the winner, Lizette Cardenas of Centreville, Virginia, who was dressed in a black and silver veil crowned with red roses.

 

Asked what brought them to the festival, he said, “I’m Mexican, so it’s perfect for us.” A Washington D.C. resident and Mexico City native, Chelapilleta gave the festival a thumbs up, calling it “pretty authentic.”

If you missed this year’s Dia de los Muertos festival, add the Bhlen app to your phone to make sure you stay aware of all the most exciting events in the DMV!

Howard Homecoming Week 2018

Howard Homecoming Week is in full swing, culminating on Saturday with the big game against the South Carolina State University Bulldogs.

Homecoming is historically a time for alumni from all over the country to reunite and celebrate at their storied alma mater. HU is expecting thousands for the many events they have scheduled all week long.

The HBCU experience is a unique one. In a way, the nationwide network of HBCUs is like a family, and homecoming can feel like a big reunion. Legacies are common, and alumni are revered as the brave trailblazers who paved the way for today’s students to experience the best in education. Thurgood Marshall and Toni Morrison and our own local Rep. Elijah Cummings are all Howard alumni. Famous alumni of other HBCUs include Rev. Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and Wanda Sykes. HBCU homecomings aren’t just big parties — they’re celebrations of courage, achievement, progress and success.

That being said, homecoming week isn’t all seriousness. It’s a great time to honor traditions, attend networking events, connect with old friends and make new ones, but it’s also a great time to watch football, drink beer and dance.

Check out the listings of all the Howard Homecoming events, including the Howard Homecoming Alumni Day Party, Howard Homecoming @ The Park, Caribbean Happy Hour, Howard Homecoming Bar Crawl, Dancehall Palooza with SPICE at the Howard Theatre, Howard Homecoming 2018: The Kickback, the Wine N’ Whiskey Experience: Howard Homecoming Edition, Howard Homecoming Halloween Party and Reggae Fest Howard Homecoming with Aidonia at Howard Theatre.

Whether you’re a Howard alumni, a fellow HBCU grad or just someone who wants to witness the HBCU experience, Howard Homecoming has a party for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowds Flock to 2018 H Street Festival

The weather was perfect for yesterday’s H Street Festival, with bright sunshine, clear blue skies and temps near 60.

It’s not what people have come to expect at the H Street Festival, traditionally held in September but rescheduled this year due to the threat from Hurricane Florence. Summer usually retains its hot and humid grasp on the region in the weeks after Labor Day, spiking sales of beer and lemonade at the festival, held from noon to 7.

As it happens, there’s no wrong weather for beer, although pineapple smoothies and Turkish coffee were popular too. While some of the vendors seem transplanted from a county fair — think fried dough, hot dogs and popcorn — this festival has an international flavor, and you could smell the spices practically all the way to Union Station. Festival-goers walked around with paper plates of jerk chicken, injera and wot, and countless other treats.

Artisans sold handcrafted jewelry, clothing, decorative items and more. One booth sold a variation of the traditional “Barbie,” but these dolls had skin in varying shades of brown, curly hair and names such as Azeezah. The label said, “Distinctively Beautiful.”

Paintings, posters and other artwork — many of the surrounding area — were also for sale.

Although there were probably more dogs than kids at the festival, tykes had their own kid zone, which included a climbing wall. At about 25 feet high, it wasn’t for babies.

Fifteen stages were set up along the festival route, which stretches from 4th to 14th streets, and each hosted an ever-changing cast of performers: hot yoga demonstrations, belly dancing, hip-hop, inspirational. Attendees could even get up onstage themselves and try their hand at karaoke.

Did you miss the H Street Festival? Don’t let it happen next year — download the Bhlen app and you’ll always know what’s happening in the DMV.

H Street Festival on Tap for Saturday

When organizers of the H Street Festival heard Hurricane Florence might be coming to D.C., they scrapped the event last month and rescheduled it for this Saturday, Oct. 13. The irony is that it never even rained on the original date, but it might this week.

This major, 11-block party is still likely to attract major crowds, however, since the weather in the afternoon is supposed to be drier.

The focus of the festival, in its 13th year, is the arts. Attendees can see dancers, singers, musicians, poets and more at 15 stages along the route, two indoors.

For the first time this year, festival-goers will be able to rate performances, allowing event organizers to gauge who is most popular to help them plan what acts to bring back in subsequent years.

Come down to H Street Saturday, sample food, drink beer, shop for handcrafted items and have fun!

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Noon to 7 p.m., H Street Northeast between 4th and 14th streets, free.

 

Halloween Treats, Shaken not Stirred

Those of you who live in the DMV or are just visiting and don’t find riding the Metro scary enough already might want to attend one of our epic Halloween events. If you love dressing up, being scared and drinking, then one – or all! – of these parties is for you!

  • For many years, the National Zoo has hosted Boo at the Zoo, a fun event for kids and their parents. Night of the Living Zoo is aimed at a different crowd – 21 and over only. The event features live performances, a costume contest and after-hours access to zoo animal exhibits. Tickets are $30 each for members and $40 for nonmembers. They include two drink tickets and free water and soda. VIP tickets – $65 for members and $90 for nonmembers – include an extra drink ticket, free tastings from area restaurants, a private bar and dance floor, and exclusive animal demonstrations. Night of the Living Zoo is 7 to 10:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26; 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008.
  • Field of Screams may be way out in Olney, Maryland, but if you want to be terrified, it’s worth the drive. This legendary fright night draws visitors from all over the DMV and as far away as Delaware. Constructed every year on a former cornfield out in farm country, this attraction features several trails and a haunted house, all equipped with special effects and live actors with one central goal – to get you to wet your pants. Open every Friday and Saturday and other select nights through Nov. 4, hours vary, 4501 Olney Laytonsville Rd, Olney, MD 20832. Ticket prices vary as well, depending on how many attractions you want to visit.
  • Six Flags Fright Fest combines fog with mazes and scare zones to provide an unforgettably frightening night. Live performances, a DJ and a light show are all on tap. Ride all day, be scared all night. Open 10:30-1 a.m., Friday-Sunday through Oct. 28. Tickets are $53.99; 13710 Central Ave, Woodmore, MD 20721.
  • Bar crawls and costume contests will be held at venues around the city. Some big ones include Nightmare on M Street and the DC Halloween Crawl, both through Dupont Circle. Beware in years past these were so popular it became impossible to get into the bars. Some “participating” bars stopped honoring wristbands and revelers got crazy and filled the streets with trash. Pick your bar crawl carefully, or get together with friends to create your own crawl.
  • The 17th Street High Heel Race – also in Dupont Circle – officially kicks off at 9 p.m. Oct. 30, but the party starts in the street closer to 6. Come hang out on 17th Street between P and S to see the best-dressed racers in D.C.

Start planning your costume now, otherwise you’ll be stuck being Wonder Woman again like last year.

Howling Good Oktoberfest

In the spirit of Deutschland’s reverence for canines, Wunder Garten Beer Garden and Event Space gave them a special place this year at its Fourth Annual Oktoberfest.

Germany is the fatherland for at least 20 dog breeds: the keeshond, dachshund, Doberman and of course, the beloved black-and-tan shepherds (a triumph of German engineering by Max von Stephanitz).

Four-leggeds of all shapes and sizes rose to the occasion by dressing up in lederhosen and green Alpine hats — with some help from their human wardrobe assistants.

Dogtoberfest

While the traditional harvest festival kicked off with the tapping of the first keg on Friday, Sept. 28, these canines held their howls until noon on Sunday for Dogtoberfest, which featured a costume contest. Humane Rescue Alliance partnered with Wunder Garten and hosted the competitions.

“We spread the word about our organization at small events like these to share excitement about dog ownership and raise awareness of what we do,” said Kit Gartland, Humane Rescue Alliance corporate and foundation giving manager.

Warm, sunny weather blessed the outdoor event, which was held in a fenced-in area near Gallaudet University, festooned with brilliantly colored flowers and ivy.  Dogs sat with their friends and families who relaxed and made merry at picnic tables, sipping from beer steins and enjoying German folk music by Die Drei, “the trio.” In between songs, the soprano touted the food, prepared by Café Berlin: “Salt, sugar and meat — all German food groups are represented here.”

Spaten of Munich supplied the beer and Dolci Gelati served up a specialty gelato for the dogs made of sweet potato, peanut butter and honey.

Costumed Pups

But the dogs were the main attraction, and they did not disappoint. Griffy, a cuddly Goldendoodle, had an advantage because his owner, Matthias Wandler, is a German native and drummer for Die Drei. Dina Wandler showed Griffy in his traditional Bavarian folk costume. She and her husband have been coming to the festival for many years. “It gets bigger and the food gets better every year,” she said.

Gartland emceed the costume contest, stressing that although the winner would be decided by applause meter, all the dogs were loved. Thirteen dogs competed, most dressed like Griffy. Winnie, a bulldog, sported a green felt cap with a yellow braid and white breeches. Others went the Halloween or Thanksgiving route with pumpkin and turkey costumes. But some bucked tradition altogether, like the Corgi mix who dressed as a lobster. He brought a huge fan club who took up two tables under the tent and chanted his name — “Meatball! Meatball!”

Yeah, he won.

General manager Michael Kelly, stopping for a brief moment to talk in the crowded beer tent, said the gathering place, open year round, moved to NoMa from its former location on N Street three years earlier. Wunder Garten has a menu featuring a wide variety of German brews such as Franziskaner Hefeweizen and Spaten Marzen, as well as house cider, a selection of wines and domestic microbrews and liquor. Food is by CaliBurger. The venue is available for events. For information about booking or upcoming events, check out their website.

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos at The Wharf

The Mexican religious festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), has yet to become as mainstream in America as St. Patrick’s Day, but if the success of the award-winning Pixar film Coco is any indication, its arrival is imminent. The holiday’s proximity to Halloween offers parents a candy and commercial-free alternative and adults a more thoughtful, creative exploration of the afterlife than Jason or Freddy masks.

This year, Washingtonians can get a taste of what residents of New Orleans and San Francisco have long enjoyed at Dia de los Muertos from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, on The Wharf, Pearl Street SW. The free event features a DJ plus live Latin music from the D.C. band La Unica. Contests will highlight traditional activities like face painting and altar arrangements. Beer will be sold at the event, sponsored by Modelo.