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



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.


Bars & Parties

Support HIV research with a drag show

Tara Hoot, Evry Pleasure, TrevHER to perform



Tara Hoot performs at Cherry Sundays on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

El Techo will host, in partnership with Cherry Fund, a special edition of “Cherry Sundays” on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. 

This event is a one-day fundraising bottomless brunch. There will be performances by Evry Pleasure, Tara Hoot and TrevHER, with DJ Lemz. All tequila shot purchases will be donated to the Cherry Fund.

The Cherry Fund raises money for LGBTQ non-profits whose primary goal is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS with prevention, treatment and education, and mental health services.

The event costs $45, inclusive of bottomless brunch on margaritas, mimosas, Bloody Marys and Tecates.

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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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