October 20, 2016 at 5:55 pm EDT | by Staff reports
Best of Gay D.C. 2016: NIGHTLIFE

bogdc_nightlife_insertBest Dance Party

Mixtape

Runner-up: BARE by LURe

DJs Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer host Mixtape, an alternative dance party, on the second Saturday of each month. Locations vary. The fifth annual Mixtape Halloween party is on Monday, Oct. 31 at the Howard Theatre. It’s at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Nov. 12.

mixtapedc.com

Mixtape, gay news Washington Blade

Mixtape (Photo by Dave Claypool)

Best Bartender

Dito Sevilla, Dito’s Bar at Floriana

1602 17th St., N.W.

Runner-up: Dusty Martinez, Trade

Dito Sevilla (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dito Sevilla (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Burlesque Dancer

Bella La Blanc

Runner-up: GiGi Holliday

Bella La Blanc is a housewife and mother of three, but unlike most wives and mothers, she’s a showgirl who has found a way to play multiple roles in her life and not just on stage.

La Blanc, originally from Miami, says she was a theater kid who first fell in love with burlesque after watching “Gypsy.” She then watched “Funny Girl” and once she came of legal age decided she wanted to emulate Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice. Her journey led her to frequent fetish clubs, at the time the only place to find burlesque shows.

Now La Blanc regularly performs at the Bier Baron Tavern and has her own burlesque production company Glit-O-Rama Productions. She’s also become known for her cos-play of Regina Mills from “Once Upon a Time.”

La Blanc says her showgirl life is an open book for her kids who often see an evening gown and a vat of crystals strung out on the dining room table after dinner in her Northern Virginia home. Events like this make it all the more fitting that her tagline is “The Stepford Wife gone wild!”

For La Blanc, burlesque is all about pride in being who you are.

“As an exhibitionist I love being on stage and I love sparkly things,” La Blanc says. “But I find that self-empowerment, self-confidence is what burlesque is all about. I go on stage and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m a 30-something-year old woman. This body has popped out babies and I’m still going to wear next to nothing and shake my bacon.”  (Mariah Cooper)

Bella La Blanc (Photo courtesy of La Blanc)

Bella La Blanc (Photo courtesy of La Blanc)

Best Cocktail

Lemon Squeeze

Duplex Diner

2004 18th St., N.W.

202-265-7828

duplexdiner.com

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: Watermelon Basil Slush, Logan Tavern

A bartender makes a Lemon Squeeze at Duplex Diner. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bartender makes a Lemon Squeeze at Duplex Diner. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best DJ

Matt Bailer

Peach Pit, Mixtape

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: DJ Tezrah

DJ Matt Bailer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

DJ Matt Bailer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Drag King

Chris Jay

Runner-up: Sebastian Katz

Chris Jay — who identifies as gender non-conforming and goes by Chris Jennings in non-drag endeavors — started drag three-and-a-half years ago, led to the craft by photography.

Interested in finding some different subjects, he happened upon the D.C. Kings four years ago and started shooting as many of their performances as he could. About six months later, he started with the Kings and continues to this day.

“I’m a lover of R&B, so you’ll find me performing that mostly,” Jay says. “My drag persona is me at a thousand, so I’m kind of full of myself and way more outgoing.”

Now with Pretty Boi Drag (the Kings folded two years ago), Jay performs twice a month — the first Sunday of each at Acre 121 and the third Sunday of each month at the Bier Baron. Jay is 36, happily partnered and lives in Baltimore. (Joey DiGuglielmo)

Chris Jay (Photo courtesy of Chris Jay)

Chris Jay (Photo courtesy of Chris Jay)

Best Drag Queen

Tatianna

Runner-up: Ba’Naka

While Tatianna has been a drag nightlife staple in D.C., for the rest of the nation she had dropped off the radar in between her appearance on the second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and her reemergence in “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2.”

In her original season, Tatianna, who hails from Falls Church, Va., became a stand-out competitor when she won Snatch Game with her eerily on point imitation of Britney Spears circa 2005. Her taglines, “Thank you” and “Choices” also made her a fan favorite.

In “All Stars 2” Tatianna was booted from the show by fellow queen Alaska not once, but twice. However before leaving she yet again left an impression on the judges with her spoken word performance of “Same Parts,” an ode to men at parties who hit on her and don’t realize she also has the “same parts.”

The local queen also dressed up as T-Boz for her last runway challenge impressing both the judges and fans.

Tatianna can frequently be found performing at Town and has said her favorite celebrities to impersonate are Britney Spears, Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus. Tatianna has mentioned on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” that she first began doing drag in middle school at age 14.

Since leaving the show, Tatianna is ready to continue working hard on her career.

“You can expect to see me everywhere because I’m traveling the world, dropping new music and saying ‘Yes!’ to any and all projects,” Tatianna told the Huffington Post following her exit from the show. (Mariah Cooper)

Tatianna (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Tatianna (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Drag Show

Ladies of Town

Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m.

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

towndc.com

Runner-up: Pretty Boi Drag

Ladies of Town (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ladies of Town (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar

Dacha Beer Garden

1600 7th St., N.W.

202-524-8790

dachadc.com

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: Black Cat

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Dacha Beer Garden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Go-Go Dancer/Stripper

Dylan Knight

Runner-up: Christian Lezzil

Dylan Knight (Photo by David Claypool; courtesy Knight)

Dylan Knight (Photo by David Claypool; courtesy Knight)

Tatianna isn’t the only star to launch from Town Danceboutique. Dylan Knight started gyrating lasciviously about 2010 after seeing other go-go dancers there.

He’s a weekly regular at Town and performs there and elsewhere, never taking himself too seriously.

“I just try to be entertaining and cute,” the 25-year-old D.C. resident says.

He’s also honored to win — “It feels good, I didn’t think I would.”

Knight dances nude sometimes and has shot more than 100 gay porn scenes since 2012 (favorite co-star? Colby Jansen).

He got his famous shamrock tattoo at Ocean City at age 18 when he was there for his senior trip. “My boyfriend and I got matching tattoos,” he says. “I’m Irish and pretty lucky, so it fits.” (Joey DiGuglielmo)

Best Happy Hour

D.C. Bear Crüe Bear Happy Hour

Every Friday at 6 p.m.

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

dcbearcrue.com

Runner-up: Number Nine

D.C. Bear Crüe Bear Happy Hour (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

D.C. Bear Crüe Bear Happy Hour (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Hottest Bar Staff

Nellie’s

900 U St., N.W.

nelliessportsbar.com

Runner-up: Town Patio

Nellie's Sports Bar (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Nellie’s Sports Bar (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Live Music

9:30 Club

815 V St., N.W.

930.com

(A perennial favorite in this category)

Runner-up: Black Cat

Troye Sivan performs at the 9:30 Club (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

Troye Sivan performs at the 9:30 Club (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

Best Neighborhood Bar

JR.’s Bar & Grill

1519 17th St., N.W.

jrsbar-dc.com

(A perennial favorite in this category)

Runner-up: Uproar

JR.'s (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

JR.’s (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

Best Outside-the-District Bar

Freddie’s Beach Bar

555 S. 23rd St.

Arlington, Va.

freddiesbeachbar.com

(A winner of this award many times previously)

Runner-up: Grand Central (Baltimore)

Freddie's Beach Bar and Grill (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Freddie’s Beach Bar and Grill (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Outdoor Drinking

Town Patio

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

towndc.com

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: Dacha Beer Garden

Town Patio (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Town Patio (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Place for Guys Night Out

Ziegfeld’s/Secrets

1824 Half St., S.W.

secretsdc.com

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: D.C. Bear Crüe Bear Happy Hour

Ziegfeld's, Secrets, gay news, nightlife, Washington Blade

Ziegfeld’s-Secrets (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Best Place for Girls Night Out

BARE by LURe

Every third Saturday of the month at Cobalt

1639 R St., N.W.

facebook.com/LureWDC

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: WhiskHER

Bare by LURe (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

BARE by LURe (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Best Rehoboth Bar

Blue Moon

35 Baltimore Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

bluemoonrehoboth.com

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: Aqua

Blue Moon (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Blue Moon (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Rehoboth Bartender

Matt Urban, Blue Moon

35 Baltimore Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

bluemoonrehoboth.com

Runner-up: Jamie Romano, Purple Parrot

Matt Urban has been behind the bar at the venerable Blue Moon for 14 years. His friendly, reserved demeanor keeps the customers coming back year after year. He says the best part of the job is “meeting so many different people and catching up with friends.” Originally from Wilmington, he lives in Rehoboth with his wife.

Matt Urban (Photo courtesy Urban)

Matt Urban (Photo courtesy Urban)

Best Rooftop

Uproar Lounge & Restaurant

639 Florida Ave., N.W.

Runner-up: Nellie’s

UpRoar rooftop (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

UpRoar rooftop (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Singer or Band

Frankie & Betty

frankieandbetty@gmail.com

facebook.com/frankiebetty

(Second consecutive win in this category)

Runner-up: Wicked Jezabel

Frankie & Beatty (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Frankie & Betty (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Transgender Performer

Gigi Paris Couture

Runner-up: Lady Dane

Gigi Paris Couture started performing 20 years ago. She was just hanging out in drag one night at a bar and one of the performers was a no-show.

“They asked me to perform and I liked it,” Couture, a veteran of Ziegfeld’s, Town, Freddie’s, Cobalt, Perry’s and many others, says.

She performs weekly and works by day as a stylist at the Cosset Aveda in Crystal City, Va., near where she resides in Alexandria.

Couture, who’s single, says many trans performers work right alongside drag queens. She acknowledges there is “occasional tension, but nothing major.”

“There’s always something funny at every show,” Couture says. “That’s the nature of the business. A pastie can come off, duct tape might fall off or a piece of jewelry might fall on someone’s eggs during brunch. Little funny things that make people laugh.”

She’s happy to win this new category, a Washington Blade Best of Gay D.C. first.

“It’s an honor to be acknowledged for something I have enjoyed doing for so long.” (Joey DiGuglielmo)

Gigi Couture (Photo courtesy of Couture)

Gigi Paris Couture (Photo courtesy of Couture)

To see winners in other categories in the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. 2016 Awards, click here.

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