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Best of Gay D.C. XIII: Nightlife

Winners from the Blade’s readers poll



To see the winners of the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. readers poll in other categories, click here.

Best Outside-the-District Bar

Freddie’s Beach Bar


Freddie’s Beach Bar (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

555 23rd St.

South Arlington, Va.


Runner-up: Club Hippo


Best Rehoboth Bar

Blue Moon

Runner-up: Purple Parrot

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Blue Moon (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

After more than 30 years of entertaining crowds of tourists and locals alike, the Blue Moon is an iconic presence on Baltimore Avenue. The restaurant side of the building serves up some of the best food in town, while the bar side is busy year round. From the friendly bartenders — Matt, Chandler, Rich and others — to the lineup of entertainment, which includes Cashetta, Mona Lotts and, of course, the Queen of Rehoboth, Pamala Stanley, there’s always an energetic and welcoming vibe at the Moon. (KN)

Blue Moon

35 Baltimore Ave.


Best Happy Hour

Bear Happy Hour at Town

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Bear Happy Hour at Town Danceboutique (Washington Blade photo by Jon Wooten)

Fridays from 6-10 p.m.

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.


Runner-up: Nellie’s Sports Bar

Best Place to Meet Men

Nellie’s Sports Bar

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Nellie’s Sports Bar (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

900 U St., N.W.


Runner-up: JR.’s

Best Drag Show

Ladies of Town

Runner-up: D.C. Kings

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Ladies of Town (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Ladies of Town perform cabaret style every Friday and Saturday night downstairs at 10:30 p.m. and feature many of the most well-known and established drag queens in the D.C. area. The cast is Lena Lett, Shi-Queeta-Lee, Ba’Naka, Tatianna and Epiphany B. Lee. The Ladies of Town also won this award in 2008, 2011 and 2012. (JD)

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St. N.W.



Best Place to Meet Women

Phase 1

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Phase 1 (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

525 8th St. S.E.


Runner-up: Ladies Tea at Hank’s Oyster Bar

Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar

Dacha Beer Garden

Runner-up: Stoney’s


nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Dacha Beer Garden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Beer lovers rejoice. This beer garden, located in the Shaw neighborhood, is perfect for expanding your beer palate. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even order a boot of beer — exactly what the name suggests. (MC)

Dacha Beer Garden

1600 7th St., N.W.


Best Live Music

9:30 Club

nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

9:30 Club (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

815 V St. N.W.


Runner-up: Black Cat

Best Neighborhood Bar


nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

JR.’s (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

1519 17th St., N.W.


Runner-up: Nellie’s Sports Bar

Best Men’s Party


Runner-up: Bear Happy Hour at Town


nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Mixtape (Photo by David Claypool |

Mixtape, which celebrated its sixth anniversary last month, wins this category again this year after last winning in 2012. The monthly dance party, where DJs Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer spin “anything you can dance to” has its third annual Mixtape Halloween Bash Oct. 31 at the Howard Theatre (620 T St. N.W.). Doors open at midnight and tickets are $10. (JD)


Locations vary


Best Women’s Party


Runner-up: Bare by LURe

Phasefest, gay news, Washington Blade

Phasefest (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Best Alt Party


The Black Cat

1811 14th St., N.W.

Joshua Vogelsong, GAY/BASH!, Black Cat, gay news, Washington Blade

Joshua Vogelsong of GAY/BASH! (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Next event is Halloween Freak Show Saturday night, a queer night of rock and pop gems with DJs Dean Sullivan and Josh Vogelsong and performances by Heidi Glum and Rumor Millz. Doors open 10 p.m. Cover is $5. Tickets available at the door or at GAY/BASH! also won this prize last year. (JD)

Runner-up: Otter Crossing

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Arts & Entertainment

LGBTQ+ ally Jamie Lee Curtis reveals her 25-year-old child is Trans

Curtis and her husband Christopher Guest, British screenwriter, composer, musician, director, and actor have two daughters.



Screenshot via Page 6 YouTube channel

LOS ANGELES – In a new interview with the American Association of Retired Persons’ magazine, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning actress Jamie Lee Curtis disclosed that her youngest child is transgender. In the interview Curtis reflected that she has “watched in wonder and pride as our son became our daughter Ruby.”

Curtis and her husband Christopher Guest, British screenwriter, composer, musician, director, and actor have two daughters. Ruby, 25, works as a computer gaming editor while Curtis and Guest’s 34-year-old daughter, Annie, is married and works as a dance instructor. Curtis also noted that Ruby and her fiancé are getting married next year in a wedding that Curtis will officiate.

The longtime Hollywood couple have been married for more than 36 years but have no grandchildren, “but I do hope to,” she told the magazine.

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Non-binary Olympian leaves games without a medal but still a winner

For the first time in my entire life, I’m proud of the person I’ve worked to become. I chose my happiness over medaling



Alana Smith via Instagram

TOKYO – In a series of firsts for the Summer Olympic Games, Alana Smith left the Tokyo games with a sense of accomplishment and a couple of firsts. The 20-year-old non-binary skateboarder competing in the debut of their sport noted on their Instagram account, “My goal coming into this was to be happy and be a visual representation for humans like me.”

Smith wrote: ‘What a wild f***ing ride…My goal coming into this was to be happy and be a visual representation for humans like me. For the first time in my entire life, Im proud of the person I’ve worked to become. I chose my happiness over medaling. Out of everything I’ve done, I wanted to walk out of this knowing I UNAPOLOGETICALLY was myself and was genuinely smiling.

The feeling in my heart says I did that. Last night I had a moment on the balcony, I’m not religious or have anyone/anything I talk to. Last night I thanked whoever it was out there that gave me the chance to not leave this world the night I laid in the middle of the road. I feel happy to be alive and feel like I’m meant to be here for possibly the first time in a extremely long time. On or off day, I walked out of this happy and alive… Thats all I have ever asked for.

Thank you to all the incredible humans that have supported me through so many waves of life. I can’t wait to skate for the love of it again, not only for a contest. Which is wild considering a contest helped me find my love for it again. 💛🤍💜🖤”

Smith’s Olympic debut was slightly marred by their being misgendered during news coverage of their events by BBC commentators misgendering Smith discussing their performance, which led to protests from LGBTQ+ groups and allies including British LGBTQ+ advocacy group Stonewall UK.


During the competition, Smith proudly held up their skateboard, which featured their pronouns they/them written across the top. The misgendering was addressed by NBC Sports which issued an apology Tuesday for streaming coverage that misgendered Smith.

“NBC Sports is committed to—and understands the importance of—using correct pronouns for everyone across our platforms,” the network said. “While our commentators used the correct pronouns in our coverage, we streamed an international feed that was not produced by NBCUniversal which misgendered Olympian Alana Smith. We regret this error and apologize to Alana and our viewers.”

NBC also reported that this is the first Olympics in history that has featured skateboarding, with 16 athletes traveling to Tokyo to represent the United States. Smith qualified for the third Olympic spot in the women’s street category after competing at the World Skate World Championships in 2019, according to Dew Tour, which hosts international skateboarding competitions.

According to Outsports, the online LGBTQ+ Sports magazine and NBC Sports, Smith is one of more than 160 openly LGBTQ athletes competing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics and one of at least three openly nonbinary or Trans athletes.

Quinn, a midfielder for the Canadian women’s soccer team who goes by only their first name, is the first openly Trans athlete and nonbinary athlete to compete in the games. Laurel Hubbard, a Trans woman from New Zealand will compete in the super heavyweight 87 kilogram-plus (192 pound-plus) weightlifting category on August 2.

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‘Playing the Palace’ a campy, fun rom-com read

What happens when a prince meets an event planner



‘Playing the Palace’
By Paul Rudnick
c.2021, Berkley
$16/272 pages

If you loathe romance or hate to laugh, then skip this book.  

If you’re looking for a rom-com that’s as fab and campy as Provincetown or Rehoboth Beach on a summer night, “Playing the Palace” by Paul Rudnick is the book for you.

Reading “Playing the Palace” is like sipping a delicious frozen Daiquiri.

Carter Ogden, the neurotic, good-hearted, Jewish, funny, out, gay narrator of this frothy romance, becomes your BFF and drinking buddy at the opening sentence, “It’s still weird, waking up alone.”

The plot of the book is simple: Carter, 29, is an associate “event architect” (in plain English – event planner) in New York City. He makes ends meet by living with wacky, supportive roommates.

Carter, a native of Piscataway, N.J., and IHOP aficionado, is feeling dejected as he approaches his 30th birthday. His ex, an actor, has left him. He can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever find love again.

Until, at work, he meets Edgar, the Prince of Wales. Edgar has come over from the United Kingdom to speak at a charity event for a group that works to provide clean water to countries that need it. And, this being a fictional prince in a rom-com, Edgar is openly gay. 

As you’ve been forewarned, we’re not dealing with realism here.

Edgar sees Carter and asks him to give him tips on how he can get his speech across more effectively.  

From that moment on, the two – the IHOP-loving event planner and the future King of England — are in a fine romance. (Edgar is an orphan. His parents were killed in a plane crash.)

Their quest for the happily-ever-after involves pancakes, projectile vomiting, social media and a Thanksgiving meet-up of Carter’s Jewish aunts and Edgar’s grandmother, the Queen of England.

By itself, the story of “Playing the Palace” might seem predictable. What makes it sizzle – why you laugh out loud even as you root for the romance to work out – is its narrative voice.

“Playing the Palace” is a funny, sometimes touching monologue in the voice of Carter.

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to love Carter when he says he “addressed my problems to the framed photo of the late beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the wall of my tiny, partitioned bedroom.”

Writing a whole novel as a monologue could fizzle out if other writers tried it.  

But, Rudnick a gay novelist, playwright, essayist, screenwriter and humorist, is a master of this form.

His plays, produced on and off-Broadway include “Jeffrey,” “I Hate Hamlet,” “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” and “The New Century.” He’s won an Obie Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards and the John Gassner Playwriting Award.  

Rudnick’s novels include “Social Disease” and “I’ll Take It.” “Gorgeous” and “It’s All Your Fault” are among his YA (young adult) novels.

His screenplays include “Addams Family Values,” “In & Out,” the screen adaptation of “Jeffrey” and “Sister Act.” He wrote the screenplay for “Coastal Elites,” the comedic satire that debuted on HBO last year.

Something of a polymath, Rudnick is, according to his bio, “rumored to be quite close” to film critic Libby Gelman-Waxner, whose reviews have appeared in Premiere magazine and Entertainment Weekly.

A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, his essays have appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times and Vogue.

As you might expect, the volume is chock full of pop culture references and wit. “I took a shower using my new manly body wash,” Carter says, “which is exactly the same as the female version, only with simplified graphics and a steel-gray, squared-off bottle, as if it contains motor oil and testosterone.”

It’s not surprising that Rudnick told Entertainment Weekly that he’s working on a musical of the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Reading “Playing the Palace” is like seeing a Broadway musical.  

“I was looking into eyes that were so radiantly blue I either wanted to faint or yell ‘just stop it,’” Carter says when he first sees Edgar.

“Playing the Palace” is a show-stopper.

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