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A bite by the pool

Vida steps up its rooftop dining options this summer



Vida Fitness, Gay News, Washington Blade
Vida Fitness, Gay News, Washington Blade

Photo courtesy Vida Fitness.

As always the restaurant scene in Washington is bustling with events, new restaurants and new chefs galore. Here’s just a small taste of what’s hot this summer.

This summer the Vida Penthouse Pool Club on the roof of Vida Fitness  (1612 U Street NW) has a new menu created by “Top Chef” season one alum, Michael Schlow, who owns restaurants in Massachusetts and Connecticut, including Radius, Via Matta and Alta Strada. This award-winning chef  has been retained by Urban Adventure Companies (the parent company of Vida Fitness and The Penthouse Pool Club) to create the new concept for the Pool menu.

Vida used to get food from sister establishments Capital City Brewing Company and 901 Restaurant, but 901 has now closed and Vida is taking a more upscale approach to the food that is being served at the pool. There is now an onsite kitchen and Schlow has created a menu full of light upscale fare such as appetizers, salads, wraps and sandwiches. Items like the Spicy Cucumber Salad, the California Turkey Club Wrap and the Serrano Ham Sandwich with manchego cheese and guava jam all sound like great items to eat while lounging.

Schlow will also contribute to the Fuel Bar offerings, creating some shakes and juices that will be available to patrons. So, if you have a membership and are going to be at the pool this summer, I recommend trying a bite from the new redesigned offerings.

Besides the changes at the Vida Penthouse Pool Club other exciting summer options include the following:

Starting on Monday and continuing for two weeks Oyamel Cocina Mexicana (401 7th Street NW) will celebrate its sixth annual Tequila & Mezcal Festival. Guests will be able to enjoy Oyamel’s newly expanded bar and dishes by newly appointed head chef, Colin King. Look for a review of the new space and chef in an upcoming column.

Throughout the month, Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato (1560 Wisconsin Ave NW) will be offering a special deal coinciding with National Ice Cream Month. Every Monday and Tuesday customers who purchase a regular small gelato for the suggested retail price will receive a second for half price. I didn’t know there was a National Ice Cream Month but I think it gives us all an excuse to indulge every day and this offer helps us all keep the cost down.

Ardeo + Bardeo (3311 Connecticut Ave NW) is offering a pie and wine promotion this summer that showcases house-made pizzas paired with a glass of wine or draft beer for $15. This promotion is available exclusively at the bar or community table on Sundays from 5-10 p.m. and Mondays from 5-10:30 p.m.

If you’re looking for a nice spot to enjoy happy hour this summer, try out the Rooftop Happy Hour at El Centro D.F. (1819 14th Street NW). This happy hour includes $4 libations such as Corona, Dos XX Lager, Tecate, house red and white wine as well as select cocktails. Also available during the Rooftop Happy Hour is a selection of $6 specialty dishes like shrimp ceviche, pork carnitas and a selection of tacos.

1789 Restaurant (1226 36th Street NW) is celebrating the summer with a specially priced four-course tasting menu. Executive Chef Anthony Lombardo has created a menu available for $50 where guests can select two appetizers, one entree and one dessert. A $20 wine pairing is also available.

One of the most anticipated openings of the summer is Doi Moi, a new Vietnamese and Thai street-food restaurant that will be the anchor of the District Condominiums on 14th and S. Chef Haidar Karoum and restaurateur Mark Kuller, the team behind Proof and Estadio, as well as Adam Bernbach, the bar manager for both of those restaurants, are all involved in this project. The lower level will also have a bar called 2 Birds 1 Stone and it will feature curated cocktails and a scaled down menu. The most outlandish detail of this project that I have come across is that the space will feature a custom made Jade cooking suite. If it’s true, it will be a sight to see.



Trans women banned from track and field, intersex athletes restricted

World Athletics Council policy to go into effect March 31



CeCé Telfer (Photo courtesy of Instagram)

The organization that makes the rules for track and field meets around the world declared Thursday it will bar transgender women who have experienced male puberty from competing, a move that was anticipated following a similar trans ban issued last year by the governing body for world swimming.

As the Associated Press noted, at this moment there are zero trans women competing at the elite level of track and field. But the edict, which the World Athletics Council announced will take effect on the Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, is crushing news for one hopeful. 
In May 2019, CeCé Telfer won the 400m hurdles at the Division II championships and became the first out trans woman to win an NCAA title. She’s been training ever since for her shot at the Olympics, despite being ruled ineligible for Beijing at the trials in 2021. The Jamaican-American had set a goal of qualifying for Paris in 2024. But the World Athletics ban ends that dream.

Telfer tweeted Thursday, “It feels as though the world stopped moving.”

Another ruling by the group will likely mean no shot at the Olympics for another Black woman athlete, two-time gold medalist Caster Semenya. The South African track icon is not trans, but because of her higher than typical testosterone levels, she has been barred from competing in her signature event, the 800m. World Athletics took that from her around the same time Telfer made history, in May 2019. 

The group issued an eligibility ruling that prohibits female athletes like Semenya who have Differences in Sexual Development from competing in women’s events, from the 400m to one mile (1600m), unless they reduce their testosterone levels. So, Semenya chose to run in longer events than she did previously. She finished 13th in her qualifying heat at 5,000 meters at world championships last year as she worked to adapt to longer distances, in preparation for Paris. 

“I’m in the adaptation phase, and my body is starting to fit with it. I’m just enjoying myself at the moment, and things will fall into place at the right time,” the South African runner told the AP.

That time may now never come. On Thursday, World Athletics announced athletes who have DSD will have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment and maintain a testosterone level of below 2.5nmol/L for 24 months, in order to be eligible to compete in any event in the female category.

Semenya vowed following the 2019 ruling that she would never again take any testosterone suppressing medication, terming the rules discriminatory and unfair.

This new rule could impact not only Semenya but also as many as a dozen other elite runners, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. Among them, Olympic 200-meter silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia, who won a silver medal in Tokyo two years ago but didn’t compete last year because of an injury. Mboma has not publicly stated whether she would be willing to undergo hormone therapy.

Like Semenya, Olympic 800-meter silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi has said she will not undergo hormone suppression. 

Even though Niyonsaba, Mboma and Semenya are not trans like Telfer and former Connecticut high school track athletes Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller — who have been targeted in federal court by opponents of inclusion — there is one thing all these women have in common: They are all women of color, and all targeted for being too fast because of their natural gifts.

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Chicago Blackhawks: No Pride jerseys over Russia concerns

Several of the team’s players are Russian



Chicago Blackhawks players wearing 'Pride Night' jerseys in April of 2022 (Photo Credit: Chicago Blackhawks/Facebook)

The National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks franchise have opted to not wear the team’s Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against the Vancouver Canucks based on security concerns over the recently expanded Russian law prohibiting mention of LGBTQ rights in Russia the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, the decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.

Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country the AP noted.

The team has participated in the LGBTQ themed part of the ‘Hockey is for everyone‘ campaign and has in previous years set aside recognition for the LGBTQ community in Pride night celebrations.

While the team will forgo the jerseys, the AP noted that DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.

The decision by the team has sparked outage including Outsports editor Cyd Zeigler, who noted on Twitter that the NHL has an inclusion problem as the Chicago team joins the New York Rangers, who opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their Pride night this past January despite previously advertising that plan. The Rangers’ Pride Night was held 10 days after Ivan Provorov, the alternate captain for the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, opted out of participating in the team’s Pride Night charity event before the game Tuesday, claiming a religious exemption based on his Russian Orthodox faith.

San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer didn’t take part in the Sharks Pride Night wearing Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community, telling multiple media outlets that support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

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Reading ‘Blue Hunger’ is like watching a Stanley Kubrick film

Lush, dreamlike, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it



(Book cover image courtesy of Bloomsbury)

‘Blue Hunger’ 
By Viola Di Grado, translated by Jamie Richards
c.2023, Bloomsbury
$27/ 216 pages

You can’t stop thinking about it.

It’s been rolling around in your mind since it happened and you can’t stop. You replay it over and over, how it started, how it progressed, why it ended. You wonder if it’ll happen again and in the new novel “Blue Hunger” by Viola Di Grado, you wonder if you truly want it to.

Shanghai was not her first choice for a place to live. Sometimes, she wasn’t really even sure why she came there, except that it was Ruben’s dream.

For months and months, he spoke of Shanghai, showed her maps, talked of a life as a chef living in a high-rise apartment, and he taught her a little bit of the language. She never fully understood why Ruben loved China and she never thought to ask before her other half, her twin brother, her only sibling died.

She was brushing her teeth when it happened. Now, weeks later, she was in his favorite city, a teacher of Italian languages in a Chinese culture, alone, friendless. Then she met Xu.

It happened at the nightclub called Poxx and she later wondered, with a thrill, if Xu had been stalking her. Xu claimed that she was a student in the Italian class, but though she was usually good with faces, she didn’t remember the slender, “glorious” woman with milk-white skin and luminous eyes.

She did remember the first place she and Xu had sex.

It was a hotel, but Xu liked it outside, too; in public, on sidewalks, in abandoned buildings, and in crowded nightclubs. They took yellow pills together, slept together in Xu’s squalid apartment; she told Xu she loved her but never got a reply except that Xu starting biting.

Xu had used her teeth all along but she started biting harder.

Soon, she was bleeding, bruising from Xu’s bites, and seeing people in the shadows, and she began to understand that Ruben wouldn’t have liked Xu at all.

You know what you want. You’re someone with determination. And you may want this book, but there are a few things you’ll need to know first.

Reading “Blue Hunger” is like watching a Stanley Kubrick movie. It’s surreal, kind of gauzy, and loaded with meanings that are somewhat fuzzy until you’ve read a paragraph several times – and even then, you’re not quite sure about it. Author Viola Di Grado writes of sharp, unfinished mourning with a grief-distracting obsession layered thickly on top, of control and submission, and while the chapters are each brief, they feel too long but not long enough. There are so many questions left dangling within the plot of this story, so many small bits unsaid, but also too much information of the mundane sort. You’ll feel somewhat voyeuristic with this book in your hands, until you notice that the sex scenes here are humidly uber-fiery but not very detailed.

Overall, then, “Blue Hunger” is different but compelling, short enough to read twice, quickly. It’s lush, dreamlike, and once started, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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