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The power of word and dance

‘Tongues’ recalls work of local poets lost to AIDS



Dakshina, gay news, Washington Blade
Dakshina, gay news, Washington Blade

Two dancers in the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Company in ‘Mortal Tongues, Immortal Instruments.’ (Photo courtesy DPS)

‘Mortal Tongues, Immortal Instruments’


Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh


The Atlas Performing Arts Center


1333 H St., N.E.


Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m.


Saturday, March 5 at 1:30 p.m.




Memorials don’t always have to be concrete objects, as the Dakshina Dance Company, led by Daniel Phoenix Singh, proves with its visual and auditory remembrance of poets who were lost to HIV/AIDS.

“Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories” combines crafted choreography to bring to life poetry from the anthology “Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS.” The book includes the works of eight D.C. poets whose lives were ended by HIV/AIDS.

Singh says his interest in the poetry came about years ago after hearing a reading. The poetry touched him and and put a lot into perspective about art and disease.

“They were creating work even when they were going through such terrible times in their lives of isolation, of disease, loneliness and death,” Singh says. “They were facing some of the worst moments, but they’re still trying to find time to create and leave behind a memorial to what they were going through. So I think it’s our duty to remember that and bring their voices forward.”

Singh’s connection to the project was also strengthened when he would volunteer at Whitman-Walker Health.

“I used to be a buddy to patients whose family had deserted them or whose family did not have enough resources to do what they needed to do and were dying alone in hospice or in friends houses and Whitman Walker needed people to just go sit with them,” Singh says.

The project, funded primarily through the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities, brings those voices forward in a series of 20 poems accompanied by 14 pieces of dance woven into the readings.

The poetry will be read by two queer spoken word artists Gowri Koneswaran and Chris August. Singh finds this to be a striking representation and remembrance of the artwork.

“For me, the poems were painted pictures. Dance brings life into the picture and creates a relationship that’s a little more concrete than words are. So I kind of think of dance as a three dimensional representation of poetry,” Singh says.

Koneswaran says both she and August have been interested in these poems for years. Koneswaran has also performed independent readings of many of the same writers’ work featured in the performance.

The combination of dance and poetry is one Koneswaran feels is a fitting collaboration between the two mediums. She hopes the performance will encourage people to learn more about these writers, expand their artistic horizons and learn more about how the D.C. community is helping those with HIV/AIDS.

“I think that these poems and these writers are so important that we keep focusing on their work, highlighting their contribution and remembering them because it’s such a shame when the work of artists gets lost over time,” Koneswaran says.

Singh also wants people to better understand these writers beyond the label of “HIV/AIDS poets” and wants the production to reflect that.

“I want the audience to celebrate the poets in all their multi-faceted life not just as the poet who has AIDS but as people, as lovers, as friends, as family,” Singh says.


Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club



Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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Music & Concerts

From Monáe to Madonna, fall will rock in D.C.

Local venues hosting array of queer artists in coming months



Madonna’s delayed tour is slated to hit D.C. Dec. 18 and 19. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The D.C. area has many LGBTQ musical acts to look forward to this fall. Starting with pansexual and nonbinary actor and R&B singer Janelle Monáe, performing at the Anthem on Sept. 24-25 with ticket prices ranging from $135 to $301 on StubHub.

Janelle Monáe comes to the Anthem later this month. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Singer Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 26-27. Tickets are available on StubHub starting at $324.

On Sept. 28 the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore will see lesbian pop artist SZA’s “SOS Tour” with tickets starting at $165 on Ticketmaster. 

Queer indie pop singer Ashnikko is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 29 to perform their “Weedkiller Tour.” Tickets available on StubHub range from $49 to $279.

Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., is the All Things Go Festival. Performing are lesbian singers Tegan and Sara, alt-pop singer Lana Del Rey, pop singer Carly Rae Jepson, and more. The festival will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 with two day passes starting at $397 on SeatGeek.  

Rock band Queen will perform “The Rhapsody Tour” at the CFG Bank Arena along with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4-5. Tickets are starting at $181 on Ticketmaster. 

Pop star and trans woman Kim Petras’ “Feed the Beast World Tour” will reach the Anthem on Oct 12. Tickets range from $72 to $817 on StubHub. 

Kim Petras brings the ‘Feed the Beast World Tour’ to the Anthem in October. (Photo by Thom Kerr)

Queer pop singer Kesha is coming to the Anthem on Oct. 29 to support her new album, “Gag Order.” Tickets go from $86 to $261 on Event Ticket Center. 

Queer pop rapper Shygirl is co-headlining with bisexual singer Tinashe for the “Nymph” tour at the Anthem on Nov. 5. Tickets range from $45 to $145 on Ticketmaster.

Indie band Men I Trust is performing at Echostage on Nov. 15. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster for $30. 

Nonbinary rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s “PINK TAPE TOUR” will be at the Anthem on Nov. 21. Tickets start at $90 on StubHub. 

Doja Cat’s “The Scarlett Tour” will reach Capital One Arena on Nov. 27. Tickets start at $100 on Ticketmaster. 

Madonna will bring her highly anticipated and delayed “The Celebration Tour” to the Capital One Arena Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster starting at $110.

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Music & Concerts

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer entertains at the Sands Hotel



Tom Goss (Photo by Dusti Cunningham)

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel. 

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison. 

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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