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Calendar for March 12

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Friday, March 12

“It’s Britney Bitch” features Britney look-a-likes, karaoke, trivia, music and more at Town, 2009 8th St., N.W., 202-234-TOWN or towndc.com. Doors open at 10 p.m., drag show at 10:30 p.m.; 18+. Cover is $5 from 10-11 p.m. and $10 after for those 21+ and $10 all night for 18-20.

Visit Apex, 1415 22nd St., N.W., for Caliente Grande! Expect the hottest Latin music from DJ Michael Brandon with doors opening at 9 p.m. 18 to get in and 21 to drink.

The second Friday of each month at the Green Lantern, 1335 Green Court, N.W., offers “Jacob’s Ladder,” music of the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. The DJs for the evening will be T&T Music Factory (DJ tim ē & DJ Timothy Mykael make up this electrifying team). Two DJs playing 90 minutes each. All you can drink Smirnoff Vodka flavors buffet for $15; $5 cover.

Gay District is a weekly, non-church affiliated discussion and social group for GBTQ men between 18 and 35. The group meets from 8:30-10:30 p.m at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 1820 Connecticut Ave., N.W. For more information, e-mail [email protected]

Women in their Twenties will meet at the DC Center, 1810 14th St. N.W., at 8 p.m. WiTT is a social discussion group for lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other interested women in the D.C. area. The group is led by several facilitators on a rotational basis. New participants are always welcome. The discussion is followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Saturday, March 13

MIXTAPE at EFN Lounge/Motley Bar, 1318 9th St., N.W., from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. MIXTAPE is an alterna-gay-disco-electro-pop-indie dance party for queers, gays, lesbians, trans, queens, kings, boys, girls, and every combination thereof. 21 and over; $5 cover.

The second Saturday of each month Sean Morris presents “Fly” at Mova, 1435 P St., N.W. Expect music from 1990 through 1999, with your favorites from the decade that brought us grunge. Tracks from Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and, of course, your favorite divas in their prime like Whitney Houston, Madonna and even Amy Grant! 99 cent shot special from 10-11 p.m.; no cover, 21 and up.

Black Cat, 1811 14th St., N.W., 202-667-4490, hosts its long-running Mousetrap, a Brit-pop dance night, on the main stage beginning at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission. Visit blackcatdc.com for information.

National ShamrockFest, billed as the largest St. Patrick’s Day festival in the mid-Atlantic, features 40+ bands, including the Roots and Train. Held at RFK Stadium, 2400 E. Capital St. (Stadium-Armory Metro). Gates open at 11:30 a.m.; tickets start at $24.99. Call 877-77-CLICK or visit shamrockfest.com.

The Washington Wizards take on the Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. at Verizon Center. Tickets start at $10. Visit ticketmaster.com for information.

Women Artists/Women Healing II: “Healing Power of Myth, Ritual & Celebration,” features mostly women artists, writers and healers for workshops in dance/movement, storytelling and more. Free, open to the public, 12:30 p.m., 1420 Columbia Rd., N.W. Visit womenartistswomenhealing.com or call 202-332-4200 x1041 for information.

Sunday, March 14

“Turner to Cezanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection” continues at the Corcoran Gallery, 17th Street and New York Avenue, N.W. Tickets are $10; $8 for students. And if you can’t get enough Cezanne, don’t miss the BMA’s “Cezanne and American Modernism” now through May 23, 10 Art Museum Dr., Baltimore, 443-573-1700, artbma.org. Tickets are $15.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for D.C. Central Kitchen. To participate, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Check out Cobalt, 1639 R St. N.W., for X and party the winter blues away by welcoming daylight savings time. This Month: DJ Glanson (NYC) with opening Set by DJ Pete Glow. Dancers, live drag performance by Isis Deverreoux; 21 and up, $7 cover ($5 from 10-11 p.m.).

Monday, March 15

Acclaimed singer John Hiatt performs at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va., 7:30 p.m. Visit ticketmaster.com for tickets or call the Birchmere at 703-549-7500.

Jacob Nathaniel Pring and Alphonso Wilson present the premiere of “Indigo” at Tabaq Bistro, 1336 U St., N.W. Local DJ and producer A-Ron.The.DJ (http://www.subwaystate.com/) will conjure the atmosphere for the inaugural Indigo. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Tuesday, March 16

“The Light in the Piazza” continues at Arena Stage in Crystal City, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington, Va. (Crystal City Metro). Show at 7:30 p.m.; tickets $62-67. Visit arenastage.org for information.

Packing Party at EFN Lounge/Motley Bar, 1318 9th St., N.W., from 7-8 p.m. Volunteers will be assembling safer sex kits and enjoying drink specials, 7-10:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 17

The Tom Davaron Social Bridge Club will meet at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center, 721 8th St., S.E. No partner needed. Visit lambdabridge.com; click “Social Bridge in Washington, D.C.”

Thursday, March 18

“American Idol” favorite Daughtry performs at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, 7:30 p.m. For info or tickets, call the box office at 410-347-2010 or ticketmaster.com.

Alpha Drugs invites you to attend its Survival Forum VII, a lecture on new therapies for Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, finding the strongest possible regimen with the fewest side effects, at 6:30 p.m., Hotel Palomar in the Phillips Ballroom, 2121 P St., N.W. Registration will begin at 6:30, and the lecture and dinner will start at 7 p.m. To RSVP, or for more information, contact [email protected] or call 202-265-5757.

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Photos

PHOTOS: High Heel Race

Spectators cheered along drag queen contestants for the 24th annual event

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@dragqueenathena and Dan won the 24th annual High Heel Race. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 34th annual High Heel Race was held along 17th Street on Oct. 26. The winners this year were @dragqueenathena and “Dan.” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee and members of the D.C. Council joined drag queen contestants and hundreds of spectators for the event.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Movies

New music documentary is ‘Velvet’ perfection

A piece of pure cinema that exemplifies its genre while transcending it

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The Velvet Underground (Photo courtesy of Apple TV)

When it comes to great music documentaries – the ones that stick with you after you watch and make you want to come back to them again and again – there is one ingredient that stands out as a common thread: immediacy.

From D.A. Pennebaker’s fly-on-the-wall chronicle of young Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK in “Don’t Look Back,” to Martin Scorcese’s joyful document of The Band’s final concert performance in “The Last Waltz,” to Jonathan Demme’s thrilling cinematic rendering of the Talking Heads in performance at the peak of their creative genius in “Stop Making Sense,” all of these now-revered films have endured – indeed, even grown – in popularity over the years because they captured the talent, the personality, and the power of their subjects on celluloid and preserved it for the ages, allowing generations of audiences, fans and soon-to-be-fans alike, to feel as if they were there.

But none, perhaps, have ever done it quite so viscerally as Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground.” This is a remarkable feat when you consider that the films listed above, as well as most of the other highly regarded “rockumentaries” of the past, were all concert films, showing the performers at their center in the full bloom of their musical gifts, and Haynes’ film is not that. It’s something else, something singular, a piece of pure cinema that exemplifies its genre while transcending it entirely.

The basic outline of the band’s story is well known, now. Coalesced in the early ‘60s New York art scene around a pair of charismatic geniuses (John Cale and Lou Reed), the Velvet Underground was swept into the orbit and under the wing of Andy Warhol, who turned them into the house band at his famous “Factory,” added to their mix an exotic European chanteuse named Nico, and launched their record career by producing their first album – and designing an instantly iconic cover for it featuring a banana, to boot. They were, for a while, the darlings of the New York underground set, birthing a handful of additional albums across the latter years of the decade; but their sound, which was experimental, rough, and a far cry from the flower-power sound being embraced within the status quo of Middle American music fans, did not catch on. That, combined with the volatility of the relationships at its core, ensured an ignoble and unsung dissolution for the band; though its two front men went on to forge expansive solo careers on their own, the Velvets themselves remained a kind of blip, an ephemeral presence in the history of rock – and the history of New York – remembered by anyone who wasn’t actually on the scene as nothing more than a buzzy band they never actually heard with a catchy name and a familiar album cover.

As one of the voice-over interviewees in Haynes’ movie points out, however, the counterculture wasn’t actually the counterculture – it was the culture. The rest of the world just didn’t know it yet. Decades later the Velvet Underground is credited with, among other things, providing early inspiration for what would become the punk rock movement, to say nothing of influencing the aesthetic palate of (surely without exaggeration) thousands of musicians who would go on to make great music themselves – often sounding nothing like the Velvets, but somehow cut from the same raw, edgy, white-hot honest cloth, nonetheless. Yet in their moment, they were doomed before they had even begun to become a sideshow attraction, hurling performative realness in the face of a curious-but-disinterested glitterati crowd that was already embodying the superficial fakeness that would be so aptly monikered, both as an ethos and a watchword, as “Plastics” by Buck Henry and Mike Nichols in “The Graduate” barely a year after their first album was pressed.

Frankly, it’s the kind of story that makes for a perfect rock ‘n roll legend, and the kind of legend that deserves to be explored in a film that befits its almost mythic, archetypal underpinnings. There’s nobody more qualified to deliver that film than Todd Haynes.

Haynes, of course, is a pioneer of the ‘90s “New Queer Cinema,” whose body of work has maintained a consistent yet multi-faceted focus on key themes that include outsider-ism, dysfunctional socialization, and the fluid nature of sexuality and gender. Each and any of these interests would be enough to make him a perfect fit as the person to tell the story of the Velvet Underground, but what gives him the ability to make it a masterpiece is his ongoing fascination with music and nostalgia. Beginning with his controversial debut short “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” the musical landscape of his formative years has been inseparable from his milieu, and films such as his glam-rock fantasia “Velvet Goldmine” or his post-modernist Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” have dotted his career like cornerstones. Likewise, his painstaking recreation of the past in period pieces like “Far From Heaven,” “Carol,” or “Wonderstruck” has proven his ability not just to capture the look and feel of a bygone era, but to transport audiences right back into it.

In “The Velvet Underground,” it’s more like he transports the era to the audience. His comprehensive chronicle is not just the story of the band or its members, but the story of the time and place that allowed them to exist, in which a generation waking up from the toxic artificiality of their parents’ “American Dream” took creative control of the future through an unprecedented explosion of art and culture. Art was a by-any-means-necessary endeavor that now demanded a fluency across various forms of media, and a blending together of any and every thing that worked to get the message across. And yes, sometimes the media itself was the message, but even within that depressingly superficial reality was room for an infinite layering of style and substance that could take your breath away.

That description of the era in which the Velvet Underground thrived, in which Andy Warhol turned the shallow into the profound (whether he knew it or not), in which music and film and photography and poetry and painting and every other form of expression blended together in a heady and world-changing whirlwind, is also the perfect description of Haynes’ film. Yes, there are famous veterans of the age sharing their memories and their insights, yes there is copious archival footage (including the godsend of Warhol’s filmed portraits of the legendary faces in his orbit), yes we get to hear about Lou Reed’s struggle with his sexual identity – and it’s refreshing that Haynes makes no effort to categorize or finalize that aspect of the rock legend’s persona, but merely lets it be a fact. But even though “The Velvet Underground” checks off all the boxes to be a documentary, it’s something much more. Thanks to Haynes’ seamless blend of visuals, words, history, and – always and above all – music, it’s a total sensory experience, which deserves to be seen in a theater whether you subscribe to Apple TV or not. It puts you right in the middle of a world that still casts a huge shadow on our culture today.

And it’s unforgettable.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Best Of LGBTQ DC party

Blade’s 20th annual awards celebrated at Hook Hall

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Cake performs at the Best of LGBTQ D.C. Awards Party on Oct. 21. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade presented the 20th annual Best of LGBTQ D.C. Awards at a party at Hook Hall on Thursday, Oct. 21. To view this year’s winners, click here.

Event sponsored by Absolut, DC Brau and Washington Regional Transplant Community.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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