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D.C. fall dance scene includes summits, festivals, nightlife parties and more

2017 Fall Arts Preview: Dance



fall dance, gay news, Washington Blade

A dancer with Company Danzante Contemporary Dance shows off her moves at the Kennedy Center. (Photo by Natalia Terry; courtesy VelocityDC)

Dance Loft on 14 (4618 14th St., N.W.) and Dance Metro D.C. hosts the D.C. Dance Summit this weekend (Sept. 15-17). Various dance genres from ballet and hip hop to Afro-Caribbean and contemporary will have workshops led by top local dance instructors in the field.

Vladimir Angelov, Steve Barberio, Cameron Bennett, Stephen Clapp and more will be featured speakers and workshop leaders. Performances, yoga, networking events, an “undoing racism” workshop and other actives will also be offered over the two days.

A full weekend pass is $75. Single day passes are $40. Evening-only passes for performances, talks and a party are $10. Undoing Racism workshop is $20 for non-members and free for members. Details at

Light Switch Dance Theatre hosts “Importance of Touch: Fifth Anniversary Launch Party” at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 Seventh St., S.E.) on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 5 p.m. The Importance of Touch explores if people are more comfortable with touch technology than the human touch. There will be a performance and a party including food and drink from local businesses, an appearance by local artist Jade Essence and other activities. Tickets are $15. Details at

Festival of South African Dance takes place at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (4400 University Dr., Fairfax, Va.) on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m.

The Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies come to D.C. from Johannesburg, South Africa to perform with live musicians. Dance themes center around cultural and political issues from real-life stories. Tickets range from $30-50. Details at

The Russian Grand Ballet presents “Swan Lake: at Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall (4915 E Campus Dr., Alexandria, Va.) on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. The performance tells the story of Princess Odette who falls under an evil spell that Prince Siegfried tries to break.Tickets range from $35-85. Details at

The ninth annual VelocityDC Dance Festival is at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., N.W.) on Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2 and 8 p.m. Nineteen local dancers and dance companies representing a variety of styles such as contemporary, African, Indian, ballet, urban and more. Participating dancers will be Company Danzante Contemporary Dance, El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea, Farafina Kan, Gin Dance Company and more. The National Hand Dance Association will give free post-show dance lessons after the evening performances. This will also be the first year the festival will include a family-friendly matinee performance. Regie Cabico hosts the two-day event. Tickets start at $18. Details at

George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (4400 University Dr., Fairfax, Va.) presents “Pilobolus: Shadowland,” on Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.The multimedia performance uses projected shadow play and acrobatic dance to tell the story of a teenage girl who wants to be independent. When she falls asleep, she enters the land of the shadows. Tickets range from $29-48. Details at

D.C. Fall Salsa and Bachata Dance Festival is at Crystal City Hilton at Washington Reagan National Airport (2399 S Clark St., Arlington, Va.) Oct. 19-23. There will be more than 25 workshops, dance performances and five nights of theme parties with a salsa room, bachata room and zouk and kizomba room. Tickets range from $45-169. Search for the event on Facebook for details.

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) presents “DEMO by Damian Woetzel: Jerome Robbins–American Dance Genius” Oct. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. Woetzel hosts a lecture, demonstration-style performance that honors iconic gay choreographer Jerome Robbins known for his work on “West Side Story,” “Fancy Free,” “The Cage” and more. Tickets range from $39-49. Details at

Joy of Motion Dance Center hosts “Dreamweaver: Studio to Stage,” at the Jack Guidone Theater (5207 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. The modern dance performance inspired by dreams will be presented in the forms of hip hop, modern, tap and Horton technique. Details at

Washington Ballet presents Septime Webre’s “The Nutcracker” at Warner Theater (513 13th St., N.W.) Nov. 30-Dec. 24. The classic tale takes place in a Georgetown mansion with historical figures such as George Washington and King George III. On Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. Family Day will allow children of all ages to enjoy a matinee performance and then participate in crafts, a character meet and greet, an open rehearsal and more. On Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. the Nutcracker Tea Party will include tea, a photograph opportunity with the cast and other activities. Tickets range from $30-120. Details at

And in a whole other kind of dance, the nightlife scene will be booming all fall as usual.

Distrkt C is at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) the second Saturday of every month from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. The next one is Sunday, Oct. 8 with Nina Flowers. Alto Voltagje is the fourth Saturday of each month at 9 p.m. The next is Saturday, Sept. 23. Details at

DC Jane, a new party for women, is every fourth Friday of the month at 9 p.m. at the Eagle. DJ Rosie spins on Friday, Sept. 22. Details at

The next CTRL party is Friday, Sept. 23 at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.). Details at



Celebrating sports history: DC Gay Flag Football’s 25th season

Head of District’s premier league says it’s ‘groovin’ to its silver anniversary



The DC Gay Flag Football’s 25th season is underway. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What started when gay football fans got together in the 1990s to play their favorite sport is now a D.C. institution with 270 players in 20 teams spread over three fields, playing in both fall and spring. 

“Get off the bench,” shouts the slogan on the league’s website. “Get in the game!” 

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League turns 25 years old this month and is considered not only the premier league of its kind in the District, but is recognized across the country for its players, organization, and spirit.

“The way we run our league and the way we compete make us stand out relative to the rest,” DCGFFL Commissioner Logan Dawson told the Washington Blade. 

For those who don’t know flag football from any other kind, the difference is easy to spot: There’s no contact allowed. As the rules say, “That includes tackling, diving, blocking, and screening. Instead, players wear flags that hang along their sides by a belt. To ‘tackle’ the person in possession of the ball, the opposing team needs to pull one or both of their flags off.” There are a lot more rules, but that’s the one that really sets it apart from tackle football. 

The sport itself dates back to World War II and its origins have been traced to Fort Meade, Md. 

What’s the secret to the league’s longevity? “I think we attract and hold on to great athletes who are highly competitive, not only on the field, but also, in our professional and personal lives,” he said. Dawson, 32, plays flag football as well as manages the league. He’s currently single, but says his first love is the weather. 

“I knew in second grade that I wanted to be a meteorologist,” said Dawson, who moved to the District to be a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. 

A prolific swimmer since high school, he came out as he started grad school at Purdue University in Indiana in 2012. In an op-ed appearing in Outsports in 2014, Dawson wrote about competing in his first Gay Games in Cleveland along with a group of other gay swimmers from Colorado, and left that experience determined to join a gay sports league. 

He found it in the fall of 2018 in the DCGFFL, the same year the league’s Generals team won Gay Games XVIII. The league supports up to five travel teams, which take part in annual tournaments nationwide. It also hosts a summer tournament each year in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

“There’s a good amount of participation by people who played in the league from the very early days,” Dawson said. “I think we’re just in the sweet spot, where we have a lot of the original participants, a lot of new players, and we’re just kind of grooving right now.”

The first group gathered at Francis Field near Dupont Circle in 1994. Three years later, another group formed to play just steps from the Washington Monument Mall. They came together in 1998 to form what is now the DCGFFL. 

“For the majority of those seasons, we mainly had one division that played that was co-ed,” said Dawson. “This is our second season that we’ve had a Womens+ Division made up of [cisgender] women, trans and nonbinary individuals.” The Womens+ teams are called the Senators. 

Jayme Fuglesten is director of the Womens+ Division and has played in the league in most seasons since 2011.

“The DCGFFL has been a major part of my adult life,” she says. “I came out while playing in the league in no small part because of the love and support of this community.”

Why does she think the league has been such a success to have lasted 25 years?

“I think the league has been so successful because of its focus on inclusion and community,” she says. “I remember being so surprised in my early years when JJ and so many others would just come right up to me, hug me, and welcome me. And that really hasn’t changed in the 20+ seasons I’ve been around. It also continues to grow and respond to the needs and desires of our players. One example of that is the new Womens+ division, which gives an additional space for people who identify as womens+ to play and cultivate stronger relationships.”

DC Gay Flag Football plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a dance party and silent auction at Penn Social on Saturday, Sept. 23. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Next month, the DCGFF will send both Generals and Senators to Gay Bowl XXIII in Seattle. “That’s going to be the first time we’re going to have two Womens+ teams at the Gay Bowl,” Dawson told the Blade. “It’s reflective of the new generation of the league.” 

Earlier generations had trouble attracting new players. As the Blade reported in 2019, what had been a steady number of 20 to 22 teams dropped dramatically to 14, its lowest roster since 2011. The league’s leadership turned it around with new recruiting events, new sponsors, changes in their social event locations, changes to their player draft and a change of venue for league play beyond Carter Barron fields in Rock Creek Park in Northwest Washington. 

Brentwood Hamilton Park in Northeast Washington is now home to the recreation division and Randall Field south of the Capitol is the league’s third venue. 

Just like every facet of society, from coast to coast, what happened next hit the league hard. “COVID happened in spring of 2020,” recalled Dawson. “Everything shut down, and we did not play for what amounted to three full seasons for a year and a half.”

But once the world emerged from quarantine and lockdowns, flag football players started flocking to the DCGFFL. “We’ve had probably over 150 new players join our league in the last two years,” he said.

One thing is certain, said Dawson: Despite the name, not everyone who plays in the gay flag football league is LGBTQ+. 

“It’s a really great community. There’s a straight couple that’s married and will be soon having a child in the next month or so,” Dawson said. “They met playing in the league, just like we’ve had gay couples who meet in the league and eventually get married and have children.”

Prominent among the league’s many sponsors is the NFL hometown team, the Washington Commanders. “They are highly supportive of us, not just financially, but also publicly supporting what we are, and our mission,” Dawson said. 

This current NFL season is the first since 2021 without an out gay player on the gridiron. That’s when Carl Nassib became the first active pro football player to come out as gay. 

(Washington Blade file photo by Adam Hall)

While Dawson said, “I’m sure there are more out there” who have not yet come out, Nassib’s retirement makes this anniversary of the DCGFFL even more significant. 

“It’s unfortunate people still feel they cannot be out while they’re playing and doing what they love, but that’s the reason why something like the D.C. Gay Flag Football League is so important,” he said. “To show that there are gay and trans athletes who exist and love playing sports.”

The league plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a dance party and silent auction at Penn Social on Saturday, Sept. 23 starting at 8 p.m. Check the website for ticket information.

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Arts & Entertainment

2023 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalists through October 2nd!



It is time to celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ DC! You nominated and now we have our finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 2nd. Our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 19th and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 20th.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, Heineken, PEPCO, Shakers, Infinite Legacy.



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Celebrity News

John Waters gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star

Baltimore native proclaimed ‘here I am … closer to the gutter than ever’



John Waters receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Screenshot/YouTube Variety)

Today, the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame became a little more rainbow than it had been before. With gilded star etchings depicting icons on every corner, the powers that be dedicated September 18 to a man who arguably helped thrust LGBTQ visibility into a culture that was probably not ready at the time to receive it. The modern-day fascists amongst us might even call him a “groomer.”

We call him John Waters.

Waters first arrived in Hollywood in 1970. He parked at Hollywood and Vine and received his first bit of Los Angeles recognition.

He got a jaywalking ticket.

Outspoken and brash, Waters introduced outsider culture and heralded gay and transgender visibility into American cinema when the Stonewall uprising was still a very recent memory. His 1972 film “Pink Flamingos” was brazenly trans affirming. It powerfully and glamorously flew in the faces of audiences while trans people only faced marginalization and were stigmatized in the Nixon Vietnam and Watergate era.

His film Hairspray was first a cult favorite and in later iterations, a hit Broadway musical, and a second mainstream hit movie. It featured LGBTQ characters and a leading character in drag. Waters has also written several LGBTQ themed books including “Shock Value” and “Role Models.”

Part of the charm of John Waters is his knack for not taking himself, or any of us, too seriously. His first words as he ascended the podium for the Walk of Fame honor: “Here I am…closer to the gutter than ever!”

“I hope the most desperate showbiz rejects walk over me here and feel some sort of respect and strength,” he said later paying tribute to his greatest inspirations: The underdogs.

Waters dedicated his star to his parents. Pat and John Waters, who had been horrified by his earliest films, but encouraged him to pursue Hollywood nonetheless. “What else could I do?” he mused.

All in all, Waters was “astonished” over the tribute.  He thanked Outfest for sponsoring the event and for thinking he was “gay enough to receive it.”

Ever the director, and thinking ahead, he took a moment to make a recommendation for whom he thinks should be Hollywood Boulevard’s next star recipient:


Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin summed up John Waters this way: “John Waters is a national treasure, a unique and original voice in American cinema. His films are subversive, hilarious, and thought-provoking, and they have helped to change the way we think about outsider culture and LGBTQ+ representation.”

Now Waters has his day, and his star, immortalized forever on the famous Hollywood path. We can only hope his effect on American culture, where the “outsider” can stand tall, proves to be as solid.

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