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Calendar: Jan. 13

Parties, concerts, support groups and more through Jan. 19

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Blowoff DJs Bob Mould, left, and Richard Morel. (Photo by Jeff Smith)

Friday, Jan. 13

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) is hosting a “Mega Bear Happy Hour” tonight in honor of Leather Weekend. Doors open for happy hour at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. for the general public. Attendees must be 21 or older from 6 to 10 p.m.

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) presents its production of “Billy Elliot: The Musical” directed by Stephen Daldry and featuring music by Elton John, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $150 and can be purchased online at kennedy-center.org. The show closes on Sunday.

Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., N.W.) is hosting an opening reception for its newest exhibit, “Into the Wild,” featuring paintings by Paula Lantz, tonight from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Women in Their Twenties, a social discussion and dinner group, meets tonight from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.).

Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) presents Beat the Clock happy hour tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. Prices for all bottles, Miller Light and house vodka drinks start at $2 and go up a $1 every hour.

Code D.C. is hosting a special party for Mid-Atlantic Leather tonight at Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.). General admission is $15 and MAL package holders get in for $10. Doors open at 10 p.m. For more information, visit codedc.com.

Saturday, Jan. 14

Blowoff, a dance party featuring gay DJs Bob Mould and Richard Morel, will be at 9:30 club (815 V St., N.W.) tonight. Doors open at 11:30 p.m. Attendees must be 21 or older. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at 930.com.

Busboys & Poets presents “The Intersection of Art and Activism” featuring Ethelbert Miller and John Feffer in the Cullen Room of its 5th and K location (1025 5th St., N.W.) at 5 p.m. Miller is the Board Chair of the Institute for Policy Studies and Feffer is a playwright and political analyst. This is a free event.

Zoom: Urban Lesbian Excursions presents “The Smoker’s Room,” at Shelly’s Back Room (1331 F St., N.W.) tonight at 6 p.m. The event is free to RSVP, but there is a $12 minimum purchase at the venue. For more information, visit phatgirlchic.com/zoom.

Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) presents Hellmouth Happy Hour where every week an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” will be screened and drink specials will be offered. This week the episode is “The Wish,” featuring the first appearance of “a little gay” Willow.

Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor comes to the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) with her one-woman play “Ann” today at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. The show tells the story of Ann Richards, the second female governor of Texas. Tickets range from $54 to $95 and can be purchased online at kennedy-center.org. The show closes on Sunday.

The International Deaf Leather Meeting is being held at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Sunday, Jan. 15

D.C.’s Got Talent presents a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration at Busboys & Poets Hyattsville location (5331 Baltimore Ave., Suite 104) tonight at 8 p.m.. The event will feature artists performing spoken work, songs and poems in tribute to King. Tickets are available by calling 202-705-5048 or 240-381-5553 and at the door.

Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) presents Drag Brunch hosted by Shi-Queeta Lee today at 11 a.m. with a $20 brunch buffet, then stick around and watch the Baltimore Ravens take on the Houston Texans in the NFL Playoffs at 1 p.m.

As part of Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, 495 Bears is hosting a special Bears Can Dance tonight from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.). This is no cover for this event.

Monday, Jan. 16

Stephanie Mills plays the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $69.50. Mills will also be performing on Tuesday night.

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) and Georgetown University are hosting a musical celebration tonight at 6 p.m. featuring Grammy award-winning vocalist Bobby McFerrin and the “Let Freedom Ring!” Choir. Free tickets will be given away two per person in line in the Hall of Nations starting at 5 p.m.

The D.C. Coalition, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and the D.C. Center will be marching as a single contingent in the Martin Luther King Junior Holiday Parade today at 11 a.m. The parade starts at Friendship Public Charter School and ends at Leckie Elementary School. For more information, visit mlkholidayparadedc.org.

Tuesday, Jan. 17

Riot Act Comedy Theater (801 E St., N.W.) presents its weekly trivia night, hosted by Ashley Linder and Lauren Zoltick tonight at 8 p.m. in the upstairs bar. There is also a bonus question worth three extra points online at riotactcomedy.com.

Join Burgundy Crescent Volunteers to help pack safer sex kits from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at FUK!T’s packing location, Green Lantern, 1335 Green Ct., N.W.

Wednesday, Jan. 18

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) is hosting a dance party fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) tonight with Mixtape DJs Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer. Doors open at 8 p.m. and there is a $25 cover for this 21 and older event. For more information, visitindependentaction.org.

The D.C. Ice Breakers will be having its monthly skate and social tonight. The group will be skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Rd.) in Arlington from 8 to 9 p.m. then they’ll hit a local bar for a social hour. Skating is $8 and skate rentals are $3.

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club, for gay bridge players, meets tonight for social bridge at the Dignity Center (721 8th Street, S.E.). No partner is needed. Visit lambdabridge.com for details and click on “social bridge in Washington.”

Thursday, Jan. 19

Christine Lavin plays Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd., Vienna) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available online at wolftrap.org.

D.C. Lambda Squares, a local gay square dancing group, is having its plus with as-needed mainstream club night tonight from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, N.W.). For more information, visit dclambdasquares.org.

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Arts & Entertainment

Olympian Tom Daley launches knitting line

A journey for me that started when I first picked up my knitting needles- fast forward 18 months & I’m so proud to introduce these kits

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Photo courtesy of madewithlovebytomdaley Instagram

LONDON – During the entire course of the Olympic games in Tokyo 2020 this past summer, audiences following the diving competitions were certain to see British Olympian Tom Daley quietly and intently focused in-between matches- on his knitting.

The Gold medalist diving champion only picked up his first set of knitting needles in March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic first spread across the globe, strangling normal daily routines in its deadly grip.

Now, the 27-year-old British athlete has launched a company to encourage others to take up the hobby.

Photo courtesy of madewithlovebytomdaley Instagram

“It’s been a journey for me that started when I first picked up my knitting needles in March 2020. Fast forward 18 months and I’m so proud to introduce these kits to you all so that you can experience the joy I found learning to knit,” Daley said on his newly launched website.

“I designed these knit kits to help encourage you to pick up those needles, learn the basics, and fall in love with knitting at the same time – all whilst creating something to show off or pass on.

Ready? Pick up your needles, learn the basics and let’s have some fun!”

 

The website offers various kits for beginners, intermediate and experienced knitting and crocheting enthusiasts. One of the kits, a winter warmer hat already sold out but the collection ncludes a vest, scarves, cardigans, jumpers, stockings, and a blanket.

Kits include needles, biodegradable yarn made of Merino wool, and knitting patterns. 

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Out & About

Studio House, Visual AIDS partner for educational program

Day With(out) Art 2021 to be held at Lamont Plaza

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One Tent Health, gay news, Washington Blade
World AIDS Day is next week.

Studio House and Visual AIDS will join forces for “Day With(out) Art 2021” on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. at Lamont Plaza. 

This event is a community outdoor screening of “Enduring Care,” a video program that highlights strategies of community care within the ongoing HIV epidemic followed by a discussion about the video.

There will be an open house in the neighborhood at the David Bethuel Jamieson (1963-1992) Studio House and Archives featuring newly commissioned work by Katherine Cheairs, Cristóbal Guerra, Danny Kilbride, Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad and Uriah Bussey, Beto Pérez, Steed Taylor, and J Triangular and the Women’s Video Support Project.

For more information, visit Eventbrite

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Movies

‘Tick, tick… BOOM!’ explodes with the love of Broadway

A perfect film for fans of musical theater

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Andrew Garfield shines in ‘Tick, Tick… BOOM!’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

If you are a person who love musical theater – or if you know someone who does – then you know there is something about this particular art form that inspires a strong and driving passion in those who enjoy it, often to the point of obsession. For this reason, perhaps it’s no surprise that those who work in musical theater – the creators, performers, and all the other people who make it happen – are often the biggest musical theater lovers of all.

Because of this, “tick, tick… BOOM!” (the new film directed by Lin-Manuel “Hamilton” Miranda and written by Steven “Dear Evan Hansen” Levenson) might be the most perfect movie ever made for such fans. Adapted from an autobiographical “rock monologue” by Jonathan Larson, it follows the future “Rent” composer (Andrew Garfield) for a week in the early 1990s, when he was still an unknown young Broadway hopeful waiting tables in a New York diner. He’s on the cusp of turning 30, a milestone that weighs on his mind as he prepares for a showcase of a musical that he hasn’t quite finished – even though he’s been writing it for eight years. With limited time left to compose the show’s most crucial number, his race against the clock is complicated by major changes in his personal life; his lifelong best friend Michael (Robin de Jesús) has quit acting in favor of a five-figure career in advertising, and his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) is moving away from the city to accept a teaching job and wants him to come with her. With reminders everywhere of the ongoing AIDS epidemic still raging in the community around him, and with his own youth ticking away, he is inevitably forced to wonder if it’s time to trade in his own Broadway dreams for a more secure future – before it’s too late.

As every musical theater fan knows, the young composer’s obsession with time (hence the title) is laced with bittersweet irony in the context of what eventually happened in his real life: the day before “Rent” opened on Broadway and became a smash hit that reshaped and expanded the boundaries of what musical theater could be, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 35. He never lived to see the full fruition of all those years of hard work, and that tragic turn of events is precisely what makes “tick, tick… BOOM!” relevant and provides its considerable emotional power. In that light, it’s essentially a musical “memento mori,” a reminder that the clock eventually runs out for all of us.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not also a celebration of life in the theater, and Miranda is probably better suited than anyone to make us see that side of the coin. Now unquestionably in the highest echelon of status as a Broadway icon, he came of age in the era of “Rent,” and he takes pains to make his depiction of Manhattan in the ‘90s as authentic as possible.

Capturing the era with touches like Keith Haring-inspired murals and the use of “Love Shack” as a party anthem, his movie keeps Larson’s story within the context of his time while drawing clear connections to our own. His reverence for Larson – whom he cites as a seminal inspiration for his own future work – manifests itself palpably throughout. Yet despite that (or perhaps because of it), so does an infectiously cheery tone. Yes, things get heavy; there are hardships and heartbreaks at every turn, because that’s what a life in the theater means. But at the same time, there’s just so much fun to be had. The camaraderie, the energy, and the joy of simply living in that world comes leaping off the screen (often thanks to the enthusiastic choreography of Ryan Heffington) with the kind of giddy, effortless ease that might almost make us jealous if it didn’t lift our spirits so much. No matter that the lead character spends most of the movie second-guessing his path; we never doubt for a moment that, for him, the rewards of following his passion outweigh the sacrifices a thousand times over.

That’s something Miranda also understands. His movie drives home the point that the joy of doing theater is its own reward, and he’s willing to prove it by turning up in a bit part just for the sake of being a part of the show. And he’s not the only one. The screen is littered with living legends; in one memorable sequence alone, a who’s-who of Broadway’s brightest stars – Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Andre DeShield, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey, and at least a dozen more – serve as a high-profile backup chorus of extras for a song at the diner, but there are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos in almost every scene. It almost feels like a gimmick, or an effort to turn the movie into a “spot the star” trivia game for hardcore fans – until you realize that these are the best and brightest people in their field, who have willingly chosen to show up and participate even though they did not have to. They are there purely for love, and you can see it in their faces.

Miranda scores big across the board as a director – this is his feature film directorial debut, which confirms the standing assumption the man can do anything. But “tick, tick… BOOM!” is a star turn for its leading player, and full credit must also go – and emphatically so – to Garfield, who surpasses expectations as Larson. The one-time “Spiderman” actor trained extensively to be able to master the demands of singing the role, and it shows; he comes off as a true musical theater trouper, worthy beyond doubt of sharing the screen with so many giants. Even better, he integrates that challenge into the whole of a flamboyantly joyful performance that makes Larson endearingly, compellingly three-dimensional. It’s a career-topping piece of work.

The rest of the principal cast – a refreshingly inclusive ensemble that reminds us that Larson was instrumental in making Broadway a much more diverse place – are equally fine. De Jesús gets a long-deserved chance to shine as Michael, and Shipp brings a quiet calm to the easily-could-have-been-overshadowed Susan that makes her the perfect balance to Garfield’s high-octane energy.

Joshua Henry and Vanessa Hudgens contribute much more than their stellar vocal talents to their pair of roles as Larson friends and collaborators, and there are delicious supporting turns by Judith Light and Bradley Whitford – who gives an affectionately amusing and dead-on accurate screen impersonation of Broadway legend-of-legends Stephen Sondheim, one of Larson’s (and Miranda’s) biggest influences and inspirations, who accordingly looms large in the story despite his relatively short amount of screen time.

It should be obvious by now that “tick, tick… BOOM!” is a delight for people who love musical theater. But what if you’re not one of those people? The good news is that there is so much to enjoy here, so much real enjoyment, so much talent, so much hard work on display that nobody will have any reason to be bored.

Even people who DON’T love musical theater.

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