Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar
“We pride ourselves on our diverse crowd and we welcome all,” says Scott Eustace, general manager of Tattoo. “We have no specific demographic night, basically it is come one come all.”
Tattoo Bar is an edgy, hip, rock ‘n’ roll entertainment venue with an intimate and accepting feel. Tattoo Bar beckons the rock lover to come enjoy an evening of great music, good company and excellent customer service. A diversity of musical genres makes it a true pioneer of the “Party Rock” theme in the D.C. nightlife scene.
Tattoo Bar also provides a place to release your creative side. During Halloween weekend, for example, Friday is Rehab: Triage, a sexy nurse costume contest and Saturday, a True Blood costume contest.
“We are getting ready to start a retro ‘80s and ‘90s night,” Eustace says. “Our main promoter is gay and is he doing a great job getting the word out to everyone.”
Rocking a 90-inch projection screen and seven high-definition TVs, Tattoo Bar provides visual entertainment as well as some of the best music in D.C. Whether it’s the music videos, various images of tattooed people as artwork, motorcycle chains or the infamous “ghost rider” crashing the party over the bar, there’s always plenty to see at Tattoo Bar.
“This is really great the readers of the Washington Blade have selected us. We are thrilled,” Eustace says. Tattoo Bar is owned by the Michael Romeo Group. (DP)
1413 K St., N.W.
Best Maryland Bar
Gay owned and operated, Club Hippo was established in 1972 in the heart of Mount Vernon, an area commonly known as Baltimore’s gay district. Club Hippo has always been supportive of the local LGBT community. Wednesday nights, for example, is bingo night, when a portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore.
Also, the Hippo is known for its large dance floor and awesome sound system. On Friday and Saturday nights, club goers can dance until 2 a.m.
For “Glee” junkies, Tuesday night provides an opportunity to watch the show with other friends. And Thursday nights are devoted to hip-hop. (DP)
1 West Eager St.
Best Place to Meet Women
Lure/Bare at Cobalt
Bare, a monthly lesbian event at Cobalt, celebrated its second anniversary in January and is still going strong.
Presented by Ladies of Lure, the event is sometimes given a different spin and will often have special celebrity guests like cast members from “The Real L Word.” There’s the annual White Party in July and a Pride edition in June.
“This event [is] a place where you can come with friends, meet new ones, or just dance the night away,” says Karen Diehl of Lure.
The latest edition of Bare was a joint effort with Mautner Project to raise funds for the organization in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (JE)
Best Dance Club
Town Danceboutique is the champ here. This is Town’s fourth win in this category and counting Ba’Naka and the Ladies of Town wins, Town now has 14 Blade awards.
2009 8th St. N.W.
Best Virginia Bar
Freddie’s Beach Bar
Some years we’ve just given one non-D.C. gay bar an award and called the category “Best Out-of-D.C. Bar.” Other years, like this one, we’ve given one award for Virginia and another for Maryland. No matter what we’ve called it, Freddie’s Beach Bar has never lost. This is the Crystal City, Va., bar’s 10th consecutive win in this category and its 15th Blade Best Of award overall.
But it’s not quite the no-brainer it might once have been as Freddie’s isn’t the sole Northern Virginia gay bar as it was for years. Herndon’s So Addictive Lounge is now part of the scene. Freddie’s owner Freddie Lutz says he feels no sense of competition with So Addictive and has enjoyed visiting there several times.
“I don’t think of them as competition at all,” he says. “I think they’re a great addition to Virginia. There are so many people out that way so they’re really increasing the diversity there, which I think is just great. They’re getting even further down into the conservative territory so I really salute them. I’ve been there several times and their owner, Dewey, has been here. We’re very friendly.”
Lutz says he’s often reminded of how important it is to keep a gay presence in the anti-gay state.
“A couple years ago at Pride, somebody came to our booth and said, ‘Why should we support a bar in Virginia, they’re so terrible,” Lutz says. “I said that’s exactly why. How are we ever going to make any progress if we don’t have some gay presence here.”
Next up for Freddie’s is a full weekend of Halloween festivities. Visit the bar online for details. (JD)
Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant
555 South 23rd St.
Crystal City, VA
Best Happy Hour/Best Neighborhood Bar
JR.’s, the popular 17th Street staple, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and its 18th and 19th Blade Best Of awards. The Eric Little-owned bar (he also owns Cobalt) holds the all-time record for most Blade Best Of awards.
Despite its record, manager Dave Perruzza sounds surprised.
“Wow, we won two things?” he says. “I think it’s great, especially on the year of our 25th anniversary.”
Talk of the bar possibly moving has been rumbling throughout the rumor mill.
Perruzza says it won’t happen “anytime soon. It all depends if we find a great space. We are looking to grow, though.” (JD)
1519 17th St., N.W.
Best Place to Meet Men
Nellie’s Sports Bar
This is Nellie’s fourth Blade Best Of award. It and JR.’s go back and forth on this category and the neighborhood favorite. This year, JR.’s got the neighborhood prize (Nellie’s won it last year) but Nellie’s won’t go home empty handed. Owner Doug Schantz sounds amused.
“Nellie’s is extremely proud to have received this honor from the Blade,” he says. “We would also like to throw in that we are a great place for people to meet in general, not just for men.”
He’s also quick to thank customers.
“They’ve really made Nellie’s what it is today,” he says. “As one can tell from looking at our walls, we take pride in being of and part of the Washington community.”
Nellie’s is almost always a happening spot, feeding off the popularity of nearby Town and the 9:30 club, both repeat winners as well. Located just about where U Street N.W. joins up with Florida Avenue, Nellie’s had perhaps its most delightful moment in the sun earlier this year when Nellie herself — actress Alison Arngrim from TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” — held a book signing there gamely posing with fans in her Goldilocks wig and prominently sporting a brooch that spelled out her character’s reputation: bitch. (JD)
Nellie’s Sports Bar
900 U St., N.W.
Best Live Music
The 9:30 club offers great opportunities to get up close and personal to major celebs (arrive early and you can stand right in front of the stage), though it’s not a place to sit back and relax to enjoy a show.
Seats are sparse and bars open throughout the evening can contribute to a rowdy crowd. But the sound system is great and mostly drowns out the talkers. And there’s an immediacy and energy to the venue the city’s other mid-size venues, like DAR Constitution Hall, can’t match. It draws big names and for those who do like to drink at shows, the bar boasts a staggering array of beers on tap with about 60 to choose from.
Just in the past couple weeks, acts as diverse as country legend Loretta Lynn and gay ally extraordinaire Cyndi Lauper gave powerful performances there.
And it’s wildly popular with Blade readers. This is the venue’s sixth consecutive win in this category. (JD)
815 V St., N.W.
Best Rehoboth Bar
It’s not uncommon to find yourself waiting in line on summer nights to get into Rehoboth’s Aqua Grill, the post-beach/pre-dinner place to see and be seen. Crowds start gathering at happy hour and by 6:30 the festive outdoor deck and sandy areas are packed with tanned and primped gay men.
But Aqua is more than cocktails and tank top-clad boys. It’s also a restaurant offering a nice selection of seafood (the “Bucket of Love” is particularly good, with steamed clams served with ginger and red pepper), sandwiches and entrees.
The space is inviting and the food is good, but the main attraction tends to be the staff — bartenders and bar backs, who are often shirtless or in revealing costumes depending on the night’s theme. Whether you’re looking for drinks, hot men or dinner, Aqua’s the place. Aqua is now closed for the season but will reopen in the spring.
57 Baltimore Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Lemon Squeeze at Duplex Diner
Kevin Lee, new owner of the renowned Duplex Diner, has one word for the Lemon Squeeze: “It’s dangerous.”
This is a big comeback year for Duplex — this is its first Blade award since 2005. It was a staple in the early years of these awards with seven previous wins.
According to Lee, the Lemon Squeeze has been served at the Diner for several years, but lately it has taken on a life of its own. “It’s just a vodka lemonade,” Lee notes, “but you don’t taste the vodka. It goes down easy.”
It’s easily the most popular drink at this popular establishment. In fact, it has spawned imitators. There’s a version that swaps out the vodka for bourbon, and variations that replace the lemonade with orange or lime juice. The Orange Squeeze will be the feature of the Diner’s new Sunday Brunch, a tradition that Lee is pleased to bring back after a nine-year hiatus.
Lee has made other changes at the diner, which is gay-owned. The new menu features some updated dishes, but the Diner still serves generous portions of everyone’s favorite comfort foods. The kitchen is now under the direction of Mark Mulvey who moved to D.C. from Charleston, S.C. Lee says, “He’s added a Southern flair to some of the dishes, but the food is still delicious.” (BTC)
2004 18th St., N.W.
The evolution of the open house
The more sophisticated the advertising, the more the events flourished
In the early 20th century, there were no exclusive agreements between a seller and a real estate agent. Any broker who knew of someone wanting to sell could participate in an “open listing” by planting his sign in the yard of that person and competing with agents from other brokerages who did the same. To the victor who obtained a buyer went the spoils of commission.
The rules began to change in 1919, when being a real estate broker now required a license. An agent might handle only one property at a time exclusively, but an “open for inspection” period could be used to introduce a model home or new community to the buying population.
According to the National Association of Realtors, Dallas homebuilder, Howdy Howard, hosted one of the most successful open houses of all time in the 1950s. During the first 12 days of the event, an estimated 100,000 people attended, drawn by free sodas and the ultimate prize for the buyer – a new Cadillac.
Soon, brokers began hiring additional agents who could handle multiple properties. Unlike Howard’s marathon open house, agents would now host them for a few hours at a time, usually on a Sunday, to whet the appetite of the buyer pool.
Classified advertisements with a description of a property would be placed in a local newspaper and potential buyers would review them with their morning coffee to decide which houses to visit later in the day.
Marketing in newspapers went from a few lines of black and white text to a photo of a home’s exterior, to a multi-page spread that included both photos of houses and the agents who represented them.
The more sophisticated the advertising became, the more the open house flourished as a marketing tool, not only for the home itself, but also for the agent and the brokerage. It allowed agents to prospect for buyers for that home and others, and converse with neighbors who might want to sell their homes as well.
Soon, the sign-in sheet was born, used by the agent to capture the contact information of a potential client or customer and to let the seller know who had visited his home. While sign-in sheets or cards are still used, some agents have gravitated to electronic applications, using a tablet computer instead of paper for the same purpose.
Fast forward to the early 2000s in D.C., when open houses became the primary source of showing property. An agent would enter a property into the multiple listing service (MLS) on a Thursday, entertain no showings until Saturday, host an open house on Sunday afternoon, and call for offers either Sunday night or Monday. The open house allowed agents to send their buyers rather than accompany them and serve multiple clients at once.
The delayed showing day strategy referenced above has since been supplanted by the MLS’s Coming Soon status. Agents can now email or text links to upcoming properties to their clients in advance of showing availability and the clients can view photos, read property descriptions and disclosures, and schedule future visits accordingly.
Enter COVID-19. Due to the proliferation of the virus and the subsequent lockdown, the real estate world had to accommodate new public health requirements.
One of the first things to go was the open house. Even agent showings were constrained, with visitors limited to an agent plus two people and additional requirements for wearing masks and disposable shoe covers and gloves.
Overlapping appointments were not allowed, showings were limited to 15 to 30 minutes, and bottles of hand sanitizer sprung up on kitchen counters everywhere.
Ultimately, technology and ingenuity provided new marketing avenues for agents that included 3-D virtual open houses, Facetime and Duo viewings, videos, property websites and QR codes. Many of these marketing techniques remain, even though traditional open houses are coming back post-lockdown.
But are they really necessary? Certainly not for all types of properties.
I believe the days of using a public open house to procure a buyer are limited. Agent security has become a concern and the desire for in-person viewings during a specific day or time has waned.
On the other hand, Internet marketing and social media have a much wider reach, so much so that some people now feel comfortable buying a home – probably the most expensive item they will ever purchase – without even stepping into it until after closing.
After all, if we can work in sweatpants or pajamas while Zooming corporate meetings, how can naked virtual reality house hunting be far behind?
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.
D.C. homebuyers face hyper competitive market
Sellers in driver’s seat as region faces record low inventory
With job growth rising during a period of aggressive government spending and historically low mortgage rates, the spring 2021 market sits at the lowest level of inventory since 1983.
Homebuyers in the D.C. area continue to face an incredibly competitive market. This is truly a seller’s market.
Lack of Inventory: Washington, D.C. has been in a gradually worsening housing shortage since the Great Recession. The area hasn’t had a six-month supply of homes for sale for almost 12 years. Now, we add a global pandemic that seriously altered what homeowners want out of their home, Wall Street on fire, and insanely low interest rates and we get a surge in motivated homebuyers.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of homes nationwide reached a record low in December 2020, with just 1.07 million properties on the market. The DC metro area is even worse off than the national average with only one month’s supply of homes. That means if new listings were completely dried up, there would be no homes available in four weeks. On average, D.C. homes have been selling within 11 days, which is 15 days faster than this time in 2020.
Seller’s Market: The time is now for Washington, D.C. homeowners to seriously consider selling their homes if they have played with the idea. Experts predict 2021 will be another strong housing market with an increase in demand from existing homebuyers in search of larger homes and buyers who delayed purchasing a home due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Zillow forecasts a nearly 30 percent annual growth in homes for sale in 2021. This would be the largest home sales growth since 1983. Zillow’s annual report stated, “Home price appreciation will reach its fastest pace since the Great Recession, as the inventory crunch continues to pit buyers against each other, competing for a scarce number of homes for sale.”
D.C.’s Current Market: According to the NAR, in March of 2021, D.C. home prices had increased 4.1% compared to March 2020, for a median price of $635,000. There were 1,004 homes sold in March 2021, an increase from 842 at this time last year.
We are seeing many homes receive multiple offers within just a few days in the D.C. area. The average home is selling a little above 1% of the listing price and many hot homes are seeing large bidding wars and selling for 3% or more above the listing price; 42.7% of D.C. homes sold above list price in March of 2021. That is a 13.4% increase from last year at this time. Active inventory for March of 2021 was 1,457 homes, down 9% from March 2020. March 2021 also saw 991 homes sell in the D.C. area, an increase of 31% from February of 2021. March 2021’s total homes sold had a 19% increase from March 2020.
Buying a Home: In the current seller’s market, buying a home can be like playing a chess match. You need to know the rules and be strategic. It can seem more like winning than purchasing a home right now. If you find a home you want to buy, chances are you won’t be the only one making an offer. It is a seller’s market everywhere in the country right now and D.C. is no different. Be sure you know what you qualify for and what you can afford.
Conclusion: The NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association both project prices of existing homes to increase 5.9% in 2021. This may mean buyers will have to be more flexible than in the past. For example, making an offer contingent upon the sale of a current home may be harder than before. It’s also possible you will pay more than the list price. The D.C. real estate market is on fire and many homes are off the market within 24 hours of listing. For sellers, if you have been thinking of selling your home there is no better time than the present.
Khalil El-Ghoul is Principal Broker for Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 571-235-4821. Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in the D.C. Metro area. Learn more about what makes us different at glassshousere.com.
Still the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms
Crossovers keep wending their way into our driveways—and our hearts. After overtaking sedans, station wagons and minivans as the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms, crossovers are now taking aim at the most quintessential of American rides: the muscle car. With naughty looks and hepped-up engines, the two dynamite crossovers below are sure to blow your mind—and just maybe your budget.
DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT
Mpg: 12 city/17 highway
0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds
For more than 20 years, the Dodge Durango has been a solid if nondescript family hauler. But this year the automaker jazzed up its midsize crossover with brawnier styling and the latest tech toys. And for the first time, Dodge is offering a limited-edition Durango SRT Hellcat—a high-test model with the same hellacious Hemi V8 engine in the Challenger super coupe and Charger sport sedan. With 710 horsepower, this blazingly fast crossover can kick some serious ass, outrunning many a Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The upgraded suspension provides more dynamic handling and cornering, as well as selectable steering for better grip. For straight-line acceleration and to prevent nasty fish-tailing, I simply flipped the “launch control” toggle switch. The massive Brembo brakes also were stellar, with stop-on-a-dime performance and flaming red calipers on each wheel. Another plus: the iconic Hellcat exhaust rumble could be heard blocks away—music to the ears of any auto aficionado. As with all Durangos, this bruiser has best-in-class towing capacity of 8,700 pounds.
Inside, there’s plenty of space, including more room than expected for third-row passengers. The steering wheel, dash, and trim accents now have trendy Euro styling, though it’s more VW than upscale Audi. And you can opt for flashy seatbelts and premium seats in a color Dodge calls Demonic Red, along with black velour floor mats and a soft-touch headliner. Other features include heated/ventilated seats, a large 10.1-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration and the ability to pair two Bluetooth devices at once. Options include a 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and rear-seat entertainment with Blue-Ray player. Alas, this is a limited-edition model and all 2,000 of these speed demons quickly sold out months ago. But there’s still hope: Dodge allocated some of the racy Durangos to select dealerships, so you can call around to see if any are still available. And you can always try social media to find a lucky Durango Hellcat owner who just might be willing to sell this rollicking ride, if the price is right.
LAND ROVER DEFENDER X
Mpg: 17 city/22 highway
0 to 60 mph: 5.7 seconds
For decades, both the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover have been ubiquitous in the United States. Not so the smaller and less ostentatious Defender, often seen as a work-horse vehicle in BritBox reruns or action flicks like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But last year the Defender returned to these shores after nearly a quarter-century hiatus.
Available in two- or four-door models, both Defenders start around $50,000. My test vehicle was the new top-of-the-line Defender X, which added—yikes!—another $35,000 to the sticker price. The look on these crossovers is boxy chic, which allows for a ginormous amount of headroom, legroom and cargo space. Land Rover also added extra stowage areas and cubby holes, as well as transom windows and a sliding panoramic sunroof to keep things airy. While the cabin may be sparse and full of solid plastics, the walnut trim on the center console and door panels is quite elegant.
Land Rovers have a somewhat infamous reputation for less-than-stellar electronics, but the 10-inch touchscreen was crystal clear and synced up seamlessly with the infotainment system. Tricked out with a jet-black roof, hood, and side cladding, the press vehicle I test drove was painted a haughty Eiger Gray Metallic. It also came with thick all-terrain tires, adding to a slightly menacing vibe. A full-size spare is conveniently mounted on the vertical tailgate, which swings completely open like a refrigerator door for easy access. The Defender X may not be as lightning quick as a Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, but it’s still plenty fast. And this brute can tackle the toughest of terrains, thanks to locking differentials, hill-descent control and a standard air suspension that can raise the chassis 11.5 inches above the ground. Overall, the Defender X can’t quite hide its refined roots as a tony Land Rover. But as with the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, this burly crossover flexes some serious muscle.
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