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High Heel Race draws thousands, including mayor, to 17th Street

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A typically over-the-top delegation from the 2008 High Heel Race. (Washington Blade file photo by Henry Linser)

It begins with a parade and ends with a race.

And it happens every year — each Tuesday before Halloween, with tricked-out hairdos and outrageous costumes. It’s a drag race on D.C.’s gay main drag of 17th Street. But don’t think men-in-cars drag race; think men in heels.

In high heels, in fact, and in full costumed regalia, on Tuesday night rain or shine, 100 or so men in drag will sprint — or wobble unsteadily — for victory, in an annual event that’s like a street carnival and that High Heels Race organizer David Perruzza says “shows a sense of community.” Though it draws a huge crowd of onlookers, he boasts the race has been “incident free for years.”

Perruzza, vice president of JR.’s Bar and Grill and Cobalt, has been the event’s lead organizer for 12 years.

Formerly a bit of a free-for-all, JR.’s took over the logistical work including securing permits and making sure police patrols are present.

It began in 1986, at least according to legend, when several drag queens challenged each other to a race from JR.’s to Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, where they would down a shot and then race back.

These days, the 9 p.m. race, which Perruzza says begins “on the dot,” is, with its typical blur of gold lame and feather boas, guaranteed to elicit plenty of that drag fun charm. However regular attendees know that the real fun begins at 7:30 p.m. when contestants parade up and down the length of the several-block course to show off their finery. Those wanting a front-row seat should stake out a spot as early as 6 p.m. at one of the on-course cafes.

“People dress up to what’s going on,” says Perruzza, who recalls some stand-out characters from past races including runners appearing together as the cast of TV sitcoms like “The Facts of Life” and “The Golden Girls.” One year, however, someone pushed right through the envelope of good taste and came as Terri Sciavo, the woman in a vegetative state following massive brain damage and the focus of a legal battle from 1990 to 2005 over whether or not to disconnect her feeding tube to allow her to die.

“As sick as it was, it was kind of funny,” Perruzza says. “But I have a sick sense of humor.”

The race rules are clear: “Winners must cross the finish line wearing heels that are at least one inch.” Last year the first person to cross the finish line was disqualified, according to Perruzza, because that runner was not in heels and so the second person won. The race begins at the corner of 17th and R streets, N.W., and ends at the alley just past JR.s at 1519 17th Street.

All runners must register at the door at Cobalt. The same goes for those wanting to participate in the parade. Area residents and race participants are advised that some streets will be closed and towing will begin at 6.  To volunteer to be a race marshal, e-mail to [email protected]

Gay D.C. Council member David Catania will be the grand marshal and drag queen Lena Lett will officiate. Also expected to attend are Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council member Jack Evans.

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Here’s your guide to the merriest gay holiday season!

Cocktails, music and dancing at upcoming parties

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The holidays are here and it’s time to party.

“LGBTQ Social Mixer – Pride On The Patio at Showroom” will be on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. 

There will be happy hour cocktails and dinner on the heated patio at the venue. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic selves to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy.

Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite

The Iconic International House of Balenciaga will host “Naughty or Nice: A Holiday Extravaganza” on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 10 p.m. at Privilege. 

There will be a limited buffet and open bar, hookah, VIP packages, bottle specials and music by DJ Dave Thom and DJ Obie. There will also be a sweater contest with a cash prize. 

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

“Hip Hop Garden DC Day Party” will be on Saturday, Dec. 24 at 4 p.m. at Lost Society. This exclusive day party experience will feature non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes. Music played will be a crossover of genres and fusion of cultures.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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Bars & Parties

Winterfest remains in full force

Yappy Hour will be on Sunday

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Yappy Hour will be on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 12 p.m.

Events for Wunder Garten’s 6th Annual Winterfest are still underway at one of D.C.’s most enthralling beer gardens at 1101 First St., N.E.

A Night of 1,000 Santas will be on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. Guests are encouraged to come dressed as Santa, Mrs. Claus, an elf, a reindeer, anything or anyone, to dance the night away and celebrate the holidays. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite. 

Yappy Hour will be on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 12 p.m. This is a special day for the pups and their “hoomans” and perfect opportunity for the pups to get some treats and make new friends. Select beers cost $6 and there will be free pupucinnos with a purchase. This event is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Trivia Mondays will be on Monday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. This event will be hosted by Mark Lloyd. Guests are encouraged to bring friends and test their knowledge to win prizes and glory. There will also be boozy cocktails, seasonal beers and themed decor. Tickets are free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

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Bars & Parties

Halloween is back and more queer than ever!

Freddie’s Beach Bar to host Halloween party

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Freddie's Halloween (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant will be hosting a Halloween party on Monday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. 

Guests are encouraged to bring friends and meet new people from all over the world. Guests will gather in the back outside patio if the weather is nice or near the stage if not. Go Gay DC leader TJ Flavell will be there to greet you. Name tags will be provided. There’s no cover charge.

For more details, visit Eventbrite

Metrobar DC to host ‘Booze and Brews’ Halloween Brunch’

“Booze and Brews Halloween Brunch” will be on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at metrobar DC.

Guests are encouraged to come enjoy sounds from DJ Lalee and tasting tables from Catoctin and Republic Restoratives from 7-10 p.m. and drink specials featuring Catoctin or Republic Restoratives spirits all evening long.

This event is free to attend with an optional $15 Bash + SMYAL Fundraiser Ticket to help support LGBTQ youth across the district. Ticket holders will be honored with a cocktail. 

For more details, visit Eventbrite

Cake Pop to host ‘HallowQueen Drag Brunch’

“HallowQueen Drag Brunch” will be on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. at The Hall CP. New host Cake Pop will be hosting this ultimate Halloween-themed event. 

Flavored mimosas and Bloody Marys will cost $24 and the brunch buffet costs $30 and will include French toast casserole, buttermilk pancakes, tater tots hash, among many other menu items. 

Tickets for this event start at $25 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Baltimore Playhouse to hold ‘Haux-lloween’ party

“Taste.Touch.Feel: Haux-lloween” will be on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Baltimore Playhouse – Private Social Club. 

Guests are encouraged to come and enjoy top-tier burlesque and specialty performances, kink edutainment, interactive games, and plenty of surprises to thrill one’s senses.

There will also be a costume ball with three categories. Each category is limited to eight participants. The categories are:

  • Alien Superstar: Most unique, intergalactic freak
  • Fetish Faerie: Whimsy, kinky, faerie hauxs
  • Best Couples Costume: Period.

After the costume ball, there will be an “Adult Play Date After Party” for mingling and a night of no inhibitions where guests can enjoy spontaneous performances, play with their lover(s) or be a voyeur while the music plays. 

Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Sirene, X and Nadia to perform at Firefly

Firefly Halloween Special Event will be on Saturday, Oct. 29 at p.m. at Firefly. This event will feature performances by drag queens Sirene, X and Nadia. There will also be two competitions: 

     • “Holy” a ghoulie drag performance with a cash prize of $100 and a bookings prize of $100.

     • A costume contest where the 1st place winner wins a one-night stay at Hotel Madeira, 2nd place wins dinner for two at Firefly, and 3rd place wins brunch for two at Firefly.

This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

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