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A campin’ we will go …

Region offers range of LGBT-welcoming summer kids’ programs

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camps, gay news, Washington Blade
camps, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. kids can study art, swimming, dance, sports, technology, cooking, theater and more at the YMCA supper camp program. (Photo courtesy YMCA D.C.)

As the weather gets warmer, summer camps are already preparing for registering campers for their programs. Local camps are offering a wide range of programs from cooking and theater to sports and personal finance to satisfy any child’s interests and needs.

Beauvoir School (3500 Woodley Rd., N.W.) offers summer camp for children ages 3-10. Programs are organized by grade level. Rising pre-kindergarten students are Fireflies, rising kindergarten Blue Jays, rising first and second graders Box Turtles and rising third through fifth graders Brown Bears. Programs include cooking, gymnastics, swimming and Future Millionaires Bootcamp, a program that teaches personal finance, budgeting and how credit cards work. There is also a “Make Your Own Camp” option to combine various programs. There is also before and after camp care available. Prices vary depending on half or full day programs and session dates. For a list of sessions and prices, visit summer.beauvoirschool.org.

Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., N.W.) has an acting conservatory for young actors ages 12-17. Its summer program is an all-day immersion. Morning classes focus on movement, voice and improvisation. Afternoon classes include monologues and scene study from contemporary and classical literature. There are two sessions with a final scene performance at the end of each session. Classes are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Cost is $865 for the first session and $925 for the second session. For more information, visit studiotheatre.org.

The YMCA in D.C. offers wide range of camp programs for children of all ages. Art, aquatic, dance, sports, technology, cooking, theater and more are available. There are also specialty programs including beauty school, creative writing and gardening. YMCA also offers a day and overnight camp, Camp Letts (4003 Camp Letts Rd., Edgewater, Md.), for a more traditional camp experience. Kayaking, horseback riding and other activities are offered. For more details on specific programs and pricing visit ymcadc.org and campletts.org.

DAR Museum (1776 D., N.W.) offers two history-focused five-day camps this summer. The first is Time Travelers, for children ages 9-12. The program teaches about figures of different cultures and genders who had roles during the American Revolution but are lesser known such as Native Americans, African Americans and European men and women who were poets, spies and more. Campers can be a spy for a day and compose poems with quill and ink as well as take trips to local museums. The second program, From Fiber to Fabric, is for children ages 11-14. It teaches about textiles from raw materials to the final product and teaches sewing among other skills. For more information, visit dar.org.

Circle Yoga (3838 Northampton St., N.W.) has Budding Yogis Summer Camp for children. The camp includes mindful yoga and movement, crafts and creative arts, play at the park, group games, camp songs, relaxation and journaling. Campers ages 4-7 have a half-day camp from 9 a.m.-noon for $250 per week. Full day camp for campers ages 6-12 is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and is $365 per week. For more details, visit circleyoga.com.

TIC Summer Camp has locations across the District, Maryland and Virginia area. Its programs focus on science and technology for children ages 7-15. Technology programs include robotics, filmmaking, digital arts, programming and more. There are also sports programs available such as basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer and more. Each session is $825 with four sessions at each location. For more information, visit ticcamp.com.

Adventure Theatre has a summer musical theater camp for grades one to six  at its Glen Echo, Md., location and one for grades six-12 at its Rockville, Md. location. Campers have daily rehearsals in dancing, singing and acting using props and costumes. At the end of the program, there will be a performance for family and friends. Grades six-12 can choose from three courses of study in contemporary, Broadway revivals and Golden Age/MGM. Grades one-to-six sessions are $800 and grades six-12 sessions are $1,200. For more information, visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.

Silver Stars Gymnastics has a Silver Spring (2701 Pittman Dr.) location and a Bowie (14201 Woodcliff Ct.) location. They offer programs for children ages 3 and a half-4, 5-7 and 8-15. There are full-day programs from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and half-day programs from 9 a.m.- noon. There are also extended morning programs from 8-8:30 a.m. and extended evenings from 4:30-6 p.m. The programs teach campers gymnastics basics such as cartwheels, jumps, tucks, twists and flips. Tuition ranges from $240-305 with extended sessions adding an additional $25-65. For more details, visit gosilverstars.com.

The Lowell School (1640 Kalmia Rd., N.W.) has summer programs for children rising preschool, rising kindergarten, rising first and second grade, rising third-sixth grade and rising seventh through ninth grade. Younger campers can enjoy programs designed around self discovery and building social skills both outdoors and indoors. Older campers can explore the local city with the “Amazing Race” Game and also other areas with the Get Out! Trips Camp. There are both full-length camp sessions and mini camps. For a full list of sessions and prices, visit lowellschool.org.

Girls Rock! D.C. Camp, an LGBT-run and welcoming camp for budding girl musicians, hasn’t announced its 2015 dates but typically offers July sessions in Washington. Visit girlsrockdc.org for more information.

Georgetown Day School (4530 MacArthur Blvd., N.W.) offers summer camp programs that range from traditional day camp activities to specialty programs such as performing arts, computer programming, science and more. Camps are for children ages 5-18. Specialty camps include Hopper Dance Camp for campers age 5-fifth grade, Science of Rollercoasters for rising third-eighth graders, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company Summer Intensive for Intermediate to Advanced Dancers for rising sixth-ninth graders, Intro to Discuss Camp for grades six through eight and many more. Prices and session times vary. For a complete list, visit gds.org./campsandclasses.

Green Acres School (11701 Danville Dr., North Bethesda, Md.) has various camp programs including Martial Arts, Kreative Kangaroos for rising pre-kindergarten students, Junior Camp for rising kindergarten through second grade students and Senior Camp for rising third-seventh grade students. Activities for each program vary but include cooking and baking, sports, games, bowling and much more. Pricing and session times also vary. For a complete tuition list and session times, visit greenacres.org.

Although it’s not a traditional summer camp, Rainbow Families D.C. has several events throughout the summer including Adventure Theatre, various Pride events in June, Night Out with the Nationals in July and summer picnic in August as well as a camp weekend retreat in September. Details at rainbowfamiliesdc.org.

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Autos

A car fit for a queen

New $342,000 Rolls-Royce SUV will leave you speechless

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Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Last month, I was invited to test drive the ultimate SUV: a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. My partner Robert and I—nerdy fans of all things BritBox—decided to take this swanky ride on a two-day outing to Charlottesville. After all, meandering along Virginia’s bucolic backroads was the closest we were going to get to an English countryside. While we were trying to summon forth our inner Mr. Darcy, we discovered quite a few fun surprises in this regal SUV along the way.  

Rolls-Royce Cullinan
$342,000
Mpg: 12 city/20 highway
0 to 60 mph: 4.5 seconds

The Cullinan has a noble pedigree, named after the largest diamond ever found—a hefty 1.33-pound gem that is now part of the British Crown Jewels. There are other royal connections to Rolls-Royce, of course. Queen Elizabeth—who was trained as a World War II mechanic and, at age 95, still drives herself sometimes—has a vast car collection with many a Rolls. And both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle arrived at their weddings in a 1950 Phantom IV, made specially for the queen back when she was a mere princess. Yet despite its 114-year lineage, the luxury automaker has worked hard to keep pace with modern tastes and technology. 

Hence the Cullinan, the first-ever SUV in the Rolls-Royce stable. This tony horseless carriage has a $342,000 base price that quickly skyrockets with natty options. My test vehicle, for example, was $450,000—including $20,000 for a trendy detailing package. Other notable extras: lambswool floormats, contrast seat piping, black stained ash wood trim, and an embossed “RR” monogram on the doors and headrests. You also can opt for a cooling bin large enough for two Champagne flutes and a whiskey decanter. The best add-on, though, was the starlight headliner. To create the faux nighttime sky, it takes two craftspeople up to 17 hours to perforate 1,900 holes. Then fiberoptic lights are inset at various angles so that each “star” actually twinkles. And—crikey!—there’s even a shooting star feature. 

Exterior niceties are just as impressive, such as the anti-spin device to ensure the “RR” logo remains upright on each wheel cap at all times. Depending on customization, those fancy wheels can easily cost $4,000—each. The famous Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is available in silver, gold-plated or illuminated polycarbonate. To prevent theft, the statuette automatically disappears beneath the hood when the engine is off. But perhaps the most impressive feature is also the least obvious, at least until you slip behind the wheel and fire up this high-class colossus. That’s when the finely tuned, twin-turbo V-12 engine roars to life and effortlessly glides you down the road. 

Driving such a sophisticated land yacht—which weighs almost three tons—feels like riding on a cloud. Surprisingly, there’s little body roll when cornering and no shuddering during quick stops. Think sleek Cutty Sark versus lumbering cruise ship. There were several major storms during our time in this vehicle, causing other drivers to pull off the road or frantically try and outrun the rain. But the Cullinan stayed steady, holding the road as we battered our way through heavy winds and torrential downpours. Another nice touch: Hidden in each of the rear coach doors was a full-size umbrella, which popped out at the push of a button. When we put the wet umbrellas back into their secret compartments, air vents quickly dried them out. Mary Poppins should have been so lucky.

The skies cleared the final day of my test ride, so I sped around the Beltway for one last hurrah. Perhaps because a Rolls-Royce is more refined and understated than any in-your-face Ferrari or Lamborghini, no one tried to race me down the road. Instead, there were lots of approving smiles and a big thumbs up or two. No, I didn’t respond with a royal wave. But I doubt anyone would have blamed me if I did. After all, driving a Cullinan makes you feel like queen for a day. 

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Real Estate

A real estate language primer

A few terms to know before you buy a home

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Before you start the home buying process, there are a few key terms to know.

When working with first-time buyers, I often hear them say, “I have a stupid question.” I automatically respond that there’s no such thing. 

What they think may be a stupid question almost invariably has been asked before by many other people in the same situation. The answer to a stupid question almost always makes you smarter, so what they really have may be a “smart question.”

Several questions that were recently asked of me have prompted me to take another look at what I discuss in my initial buyer consultations, so let’s start there. 

A Buyer Consultation is an initial meeting with a buyer, whether face-to-face, by telephone, or by Zoom or similar interactive means, where we exchange information about the buyer’s needs and the services I provide and determine whether we shall work together exclusively and for how long.

If we decide to go forward, we sign an Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement, which allows an agent to be the buyer’s advocate by solely representing the buyer’s interests in a real estate transaction, protecting the buyer’s confidentiality, and providing essential services reserved for a client-based relationship. In the DMV, absent such an agreement, agents must legally represent and owe allegiance to a seller they have never met of a property they have never seen.

In D.C., our real estate contracts consist of 33 paragraphs of boilerplate language vetted by a committee of agents, brokers, and attorneys, updated as needed to comply with legislative changes and regulatory requirements. In other words, they contain a lot of “legalese.” In addition, there are a plethora of addenda that may apply to a real estate transaction.

It is important, therefore, for clients to understand what they are reading before signing and, rather than simply having buyers sign an offer electronically, I believe in providing them with a sample contract package and reviewing both the documents and the process with them to explain terms, market norms, and potential consequences of making certain choices.

The terms below seldom change in any meaningful way and learning them can be a good way to begin to understand the contract process.

Time is of the Essence, which is found at the top of our purchase contract, means that deadlines are fixed. There is no “wait just a minute more” unless both parties agree to an extension of time in writing.

An Earnest Money Deposit, generally an amount in excess of 3% of the offered price, accompanies or follows an offer and is held by a real estate brokerage or settlement firm until needed at closing. 

The terms Settlement and Closing are interchangeable and denote the signing and recording of documents transferring the property from seller to buyer.

A Contingency is a condition that must be met for the contract to proceed to settlement. An example might involve a satisfactory home inspection or appraisal, sale of a prior home, or receipt of financing. Compare it to a situation unrelated to real estate, such as “if you wear a mask, then you may enter the grocery store and shop.”

Home Inspections are typically conducted after a contract is Ratified, meaning all parties have agreed to the price and terms. They may allow for repairs to be negotiated with the sellers or for simple acceptance or rejection of the property based on the findings. Some buyers opt for a Walk-and-Talk inspection, which is conducted prior to submitting an offer. The cost is less, since buyers take their own notes and no report is issued. The offer the buyers make will be well-received by the sellers without the delay of a contingency. 

An Appraisal is ordered by the lender to determine the value of the property and whether that value supports the amount of the loan being made to the buyers. Don’t confuse this with an Assessment conducted by city assessors to determine value for property tax purposes. 

A Title Search is conducted to determine that there is nothing in the chain of ownership that would prevent the sale of the home. Title Insurance insulates the lender from issues such as fraud, forgery, liens, and other items that may not have been discovered in the initial search. The buyers may also purchase title insurance to similarly protect themselves.

In closing, a word about Closing Costs, the amounts paid to lenders, attorneys, brokers, and municipal offices at settlement for expenses incurred in completing the property transfer. The earnest money you have on deposit will be credited to you for these one-time costs or for the remainder of your downpayment. As J. G. Wentworth says, “It’s your money. Use it when you need it.”

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

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Dining

Seven new restaurants to try this fall

D.C. restaurant scene thriving again after rough year

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Le Diplomate, dining, food, French cuisine, gay news, Washington Blade
If you like Le Diplomate, you’ll love new concept Bread Alley in Union Market offering, you guessed it, Le Dip’s famous breads. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The fall dining scene is as hot as ever. Here are some of the top tickets to look out for:

RAMMYs: Sept. 19 marks the annual D.C.-area restaurant industry awards, the RAMMYs. Many of the categories this year are unique to the challenges restaurants faced in 2020. Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the awards “created timely categories that speak to all the ways the region’s uniquely met those challenges,” according to the RAMMYs. Such categories include “most innovative to-go packaging”, “outstanding COVID-safe redesign,” and “most impressive pivot to provision or market.” 

Jane Jane (1705 14th St. NW): 

Highly anticipated retro-chic cocktail bar Jane Jane quietly opened after more than two years in the making. Co-owned by gay men Drew Porterfield, his partner Ralph Brabham, and friend JP Sabatier, Jane Jane’s mid-century-style throwback offers classic cocktails and upgraded bar snacks. It’s located in the new Liz development on 14th Street.

Thirsty Crow (3400 11th St. NW):

Part sports bar, part cocktail bar, Thirsty Crow opened just last week in Columbia Heights. It sits in the subterranean level of Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning Makan, serving cocktails and bites inspired by Malaysian flavors, like its sister restaurant on the ground level. Chef James Wozniuk of Makan is overseeing the menu of snacks like shrimp chips and larger plates like spicy fried chicken with sambal.

No Goodbyes (1770 Euclid St. NW):

The Line Hotel previously played host to a suite of restaurants: A Rake’s Progress, Brothers and Sisters, and Spoke English. When these restaurants left this Adams Morgan hotel, the spaces sat mostly vacant until No Goodbyes slid into the ground floor. An all-day dining place that “taps the farmers, fishers, and small-time ranchers in DC’s own backyard,” according to its website, the menu sits squarely on a Chesapeake Bay foundation. Mid-Atlantic dishes, from fish to fowl, play large on the menu.

Bread Alley (1250 5th St NE):

The intoxicating tower of carbs that greets diners when they walk into buzzy Le Diplomate is getting its very own dedicated space, aptly named Bread Alley. A tiny location in the Union Market area, the shop just launched selling only the three types of bread that arrive complimentary at the start of any Le Dip meal: thick-crusted classic baguette, multigrain boules, and cranberry-walnut boules. It will eventually also sell pastries, jams, butter, honey, and other accouterments. Bakers begin their craft at 3:30 a.m. and offer their wares starting at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. or sold out, whichever arrives earlier.

Bistro Du Jour (99 District Square SW) 

Bistro Du Jour will be gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s third waterfront venue at the Wharf. A café in the Parisian style, it will lean heavily on croissants and cappuccinos during the day, moving to Champagne and larger savory dishes by night. The bistro will sell current partner Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery’s fresh baked goods and pastries, and will showcase traditional fare like coq au vin, French onion soup, steak frites, and foie gras for lunch and dinner. The bistro will display an extensive bubbly section, as well as a chic espresso bar and an outdoor patio. Brunch is in the works.

SUCCOTASH Prime (915 F St., NW)

After a yearlong hiatus, SUCCOTASH Prime recently reopened at the end of August. SUCCOTASH Prime, also run by gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design, is an updated version of the restaurant, still with Chef Edward Lee at the helm. The refreshed SUCCOTASH opened as a southern steakhouse with an Asian twist, featuring smoked steaks, fried oysters, collard greens, ham, and kimchi side dish. Live music is also planned.

Via Roma (4531 Telfair Blvd #110, Camp Springs, Md.)

Via Roma is a restaurant where you can enjoy the pies, you just can’t call it “pizza.” Just opened a few weeks ago, the restaurant serves pinsas, a pizza-like dish using dough made from a heady mixture of wheat, soy, and rice flours, and then proofed for more than a day. The spot calls itself the first Pinsa-certified restaurant in Maryland, and aims to reflect the laid-back, Mediterranean atmosphere of Naples (the owner also runs an Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana-certified restaurant in Maryland). Beyond Pinsa, it also serves Maryland crab tater tots, panini, pasta, salad, and Aperol spritzes.

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