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A prom-inent affair

Queer dance helps gays replace high school injustices with fun memories



(DC Agenda video by Steve Fox)

Ebone Bell did the whole prom thing in 1999 when she was an 18-year-old senior at Sherwood High School in Olney, Md. But she wasn’t out yet and went with a guy to conform to societal expectations and the whole evening just felt off.

“I was going through the motions,” the 28-year-old lesbian says. “I had the whole long hair, nails, long dress, makeup and everything. And I’d even say I had a good time because I was with my friends. But I didn’t have that monumental rite of passage that it’s supposed to be. I was obviously battling something and I guess I kind of knew then.”

Nobody can go back in time, of course, but local LGBT people can find prom nightmare redemption in Saturday’s fourth annual Capital Queer Prom, which runs from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Almas Temple (1315 K St., N.W.). Tickets are $50 per individual through today ( Bell, a local party and events promoter, got the idea watching a teen movie with a de rigueur prom scene. She’d heard of similar events for gays on college campuses and realized she could adapt it to a broader forum.

She was right. She started in 2005 with a women’s only event. It sold out with about 200 people boarding the Spirit of Washington on the waterfront. The next year she opened it up to men and it grew to nearly 300. The real marker of success, though, she says, is the money that’s raised each year for local LGBT non-profits. The Women’s Collective, Wanda’s Will and One in Ten were the recipients the first three years. This year it’s the Wanda Alston House, D.C.’s transitional home for homeless LGBT youth, managed by Transgender Health Empowerment.

“We look for groups that don’t get as much funding or promotional help as some of the bigger non-profits,” Bell says. “The Wanda Alston House lost some funding last year and it’s a shame, it really is. It’s the only place like it in this area so we really want to do our part to help it as much as possible. Even if you don’t go to prom, please go online and make a donation to the Wanda Alston House.”

Proceeds come from sponsors and ticket sales but mostly from a silent auction. Queer Prom has raised about $2,000 for each of its charities in previous years, a figure Bell hopes to exceed this year. Miller Lite is the event’s sole corporate sponsor but many locals have made donations.

A new dimension this year is Queer Prom’s Casino Royale theme. Metro Casinos is bringing gambling paraphernalia to the party and attendees can play poker, blackjack, roulette and craps. Fake money and chips will be used to play and each ticket comes with $500 worth of chips. Additional chips can be purchased reasonably for real money — it’s meant to be more fun than high stakes and Bell says prom goers who don’t know the games can learn at the event.

“I just thought it sounded like something unique and different that hadn’t been done before in the LGBT community,” she says.

And though drinking and gambling are antithetical to high school prom, Bell does have more traditional elements planned. A prom court and king and queen — who could be of either gender in either category — will be named again this year.

Tia Terchila, a local activist and drag king who performs as Rusty Nutz, was named prom king last year, in part for her extensive volunteer efforts. She says the honor meant more than it might appear to on the surface.

“It totally had a deeper meaning,” Terchila says. “It really made my entire year. It was really special and made me feel good and made me want to keep helping others.”

Terchila, who graduated from Albuquerque’s Cibola High School in 1998, was out in high school but still sorting through identity issues and didn’t feel comfortable going to prom with a girl so she stayed home.

“I had a girlfriend but I didn’t know how to properly identify myself back then at prom. I was nervous. I didn’t want to wear a dress or a suit. I didn’t know who I was. If I was a girl, if I was a boy, if it mattered. Why I think prom is cool now, for those of us who didn’t get to experience prom in the open way we wanted to, we can dress how we want to dress and not be judged. It’s fun without the pressure of high school.”

Liz Steggemann, an Alexandria, Va., lesbian, also skipped her high school prom. She heard about Queer Prom last year through some of her friends at Burgundy Crescent Volunteers and offered to help.

“I had never been to my prom,” she says. “I just thought, ‘OK, whatever,’ and I got over that, but when my friends told me about Queer Prom, I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds fun. Why not?'”

She went last year with a friend and says it was an incredible evening.

“I had an awesome time,” she says. “I don’t think I would have had that much fun at my high school prom. I wasn’t really interested in it and I couldn’t see what everybody was so excited about.”

Last year Steggemann wore a black and blue pinstripe suit with a white dress shirt and rainbow tie. She has another suit chosen for this year.

Bell says the event is formal but attendees don’t have to feel any pressure to spend a lot of money.

“It’s a gay prom so I expect all kinds of creativity,” Bell says. Suits or tuxes if you want. Some go all out in big gorgeous ball gowns. It’s what prom means to you. Some think it’s a little black dress and that’s fine. But at the end of the day, it’s no jeans or sneakers.”


Bars & Parties

MAL kicks off Jan. 11 with Bootcamp

Mid-Atlantic Leather begins with party at Bunker



MAL Weekend kicks off next week. (Image courtesy of Bunker)

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend arrives next week with a kickoff event Thursday, Jan. 11 from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. at Bunker. Organizers at Kinetic promise a surprise drill sergeant who will whip you into shape. Joshua Ruiz DJs the event. This event is for VIP pass holders only; visit for details.

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Bars & Parties

A roundup of New Year’s Eve parties in D.C.

Celebrate the start of 2024 in style



Xavier Entertainment LLC will host the seventh annual Times Square NYE Celebration at 10 p.m. at Ivy City Smokehouse. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

New Year’s Eve 2024 at Lost Society will be at 7 p.m. at Lost Society. There will be unique entertainment all night along with a journey of the senses through captivating light shows and LED displays, music, and bottle service presentations throughout the evening. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Busboys and Poets will host New Year’s Eve Open Mic and Party at 10 p.m. at 2021 14th St., N.W. This will be an evening of poetry, live DJ, dancing, food, and good company in a vibrant atmosphere where local artists take the stage, showcasing their talents in various genres. The night will be hosted by the talented Charity Blackwell and will feature award-winning poet Black Chakra. Dyanna Monet will deejay. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

QueerTalk DC will host Sapphic New Year’s Celebration at 8 p.m. at FigLeaf Bar & Lounge. The event will celebrate Sapphic, trans, and non-binary communities and feature complimentary hors D’oeuvres, a Champagne toast and DJ sets by DJ Clamazon and DJ Q. For more details, visit Eventbrite

The Queers Upstairs will host Heels & Ties: A Queer New Years Eve Surprise at 9 p.m. at Aliceanna Social Club. This evening will be an unforgettable LGBTQ New Year’s Eve party where you can sip your favorite cocktails and enjoy small bites while dancing the night away with music from DJ Rosie & DJ Missy. Tickets start at $30 and can purchased on Eventbrite

BuffBoyzz Gay-Friendly Male Strip Clubs will host a male revue that caters to men and women at 8 p.m. at Buffboyzz Male Strippers. The event will be an exciting, entertaining and sexy show of exotic male dancers in that will entertain your pants off. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

International Events Washington DC will host the 2024 Black Tie New Year’s Eve Gala at 7:30 p.m. at the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C. There will be free-flowing Champagne, an open bar, a spectacular balloon drop in the Euro Discotheque Ballroom and live bands and DJs. For dinner, guests can choose from an elegant sit-down, three-course dinner with Champagne or a dinner buffet of international cuisine. Tickets start at $189 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Social Architects will host the 12th Annual New Year’s Eve Casino Night at 8 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, Va. There will be six rooms of entertainment spread across three floors. The DJs will spin hip hop, R&B, salsa, Afrobeats and old school music. Tickets start at $60 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Pitchers and A League of Her Own will host a NYE party with complimentary Champagne toast at midnight, party favors, and a DJ all night long.

Shaker’s plans a drag extravaganza with Tatianna and Crystal Edge among others starting at 10:30 p.m.; the $10 cover includes a glass of Champagne. 

Bunker hosts a 12-hour masquerade ball with several DJs, including Joe Gauthreaux. The party starts at 9 p.m. and goes until 9 a.m. on Jan. 1. Tickets start at $45 and are available at

DJ Alex Love spins NYE at Dirty Goose with drink specials at midnight.

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Bars & Parties

Labor Day sees return of SunFestival to Rehoboth Beach

DJs, live auction, comedy and more planned for end-of-summer bash



A scene from previous SunFestival celebrations. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Labor Day Weekend in Rehoboth Beach brings more than the end of summer — it brings the annual SunFestival celebration benefitting CAMP Rehoboth.

The weekend promises two nights of revelry with entertainers and nationally known DJs creating the “ultimate party to close out summer” Sept. 2-3.

Saturday’s $45 general admission tickets are sold out but you can join a waitlist at the event’s website. That ticket grants you access to a comedy show and an auction where you can bid on six experiences like an eight-day boat tour through Belgium and the Netherlands or a week’s stay in Lisbon, Portugal. Organizations have donated these experiences to CAMP to auction off, with all proceeds going to the organization.

The $95 pass to both nights is also sold out. But general admission tickets for the Sept. 3 dance party starting at 7 p.m. with DJs Robbie Leslie and Joe Gauthreaux remain available. CAMP Rehoboth promises a “state-of-the-art club-like atmosphere,” with new design elements and video imaging.

Visit for tickets and more information. The weekend’s schedule is below:

Saturday, Sept. 2: A Night of Comedy, Drag, and Song, plus a LIVE Auction! (Doors Open at 6:30 p.m. Auction and show promptly start at 7:30 p.m.) Featuring Dixie Longate and Randy Roberts.

Serving up Tupperware lady realness, join in Dixie’s living room party and all its hilarity. Randy Roberts brings thrills with uncanny impersonations of iconic female vocalists and cabaret.

Experience a night filled with laughter and song as these talented performers will lift your spirits and tickle your funny bone. And not to be missed: the live auction. Check out the live auction items

Sunday Sept. 3: A Night of Dance. (Doors open at 7 p.m. Dance ends at 1 a.m.) Featuring DJ Robbie Leslie and DJ Joe Gauthreaux.

Both DJs will offer an unforgettable musical journey starting with classic mirror ball memories, dance floor anthems, and the latest club beats, according to a CAMP Rehoboth statement. Events are held at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, which CAMP promises will be transformed “into the ultimate dance party to close out the summer.”

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