On a recent gorgeous afternoon, I found myself quite surrounded by the colors of autumn. The trees, yes, but also the herringboned and flannelled prints of hipsters young and old who’d assembled for the Dandies and Quaintrelle's 2011 Tweed Ride. D&Q, "a Washington, DC based social group, organizes and hosts vintage-inspired, stylish events in partnership with and in support of noble causes...[and] is founded on the ideals of refined style and purposeful living."
I felt as though I’d stumbled onto a movie set for Bonnie and Clyde, milling about through the cast of extras dressed to the nines in asymmetric hats and seamed stockings or leather braces and rakishly angled fedoras.
Newsboys in flat caps and knickerbockers flirted with dames in argyle sweaters and wool pencil skirts. There wasn’t an expression of tweed left uninterpreted.
After mingling and admiring in the park, a dashing chap rang a sturdy handbell and off we went (all 800 or so of us) on a leisurely bicycle ride through the streets of Washington, D.C., inspiring stares and horn beeping of the fondest order.
Route marshals, holding “thank you” signs to appease the traffic, waved us through intersections and on past the White House.
As part of this cast from the past, you can pedal your tweed-adorned self from Meridian Hill Park to Eastern Market, pausing only to make sure your cameo pin is still secure and to steal a quick sip from your hipflask.
Make a sport of hunting for cloche hats or Oxford shoes at your favorite thrift stores and stock up for next year’s gathering. Or, if you can’t wait for next fall, aim for the equally well-dressed Seersucker Social come spring.
Maybe you’ve been to the Renaissance Festival and have noticed that people---adult people and lots of them---really love to play dress-up. There’s something liberating, it seems, about becoming someone else for a while.
Whether a temporary wench from medieval times in a fetching leather bustier or a kilt-sporting woodsman gnawing at a roasted turkey leg, you can walk amongst the colorful flags and crystal shops with cheer---your government day job just a hazy, future-tense prospect.
In costume, you are a character on a set, free to improvise different lines for a while, far from your cubicle and pinching office shoes.
Short of a Halloween party, the RennFest was the most acceptable place to dress-up and release your inner “other.”
Until Silver Spring’s Zombie Walk, that is.
Apparently, there are hundreds of the undead among us. Ellsworth Street and Georgia Avenue has teemed with them once a year since 2008. This year, the zombies come out on October 22nd.
Heads, bloody and still sticking to the hatchets that cleaved them, desperate fingers reaching from outstretched tattered sleeves, pale empty faces moaning for “Brains!” Zombie couples, zombie superheroes, and little zombie babies parade past the Discovery building, toward the specially-scheduled zombie movies at the AFI. It is a sight of sore eyes!
If you are not the zombie-dressing sort, come for the spectacle of it. (Though you may find that, like when you are inside the wooden fences of the RennFest, the one who looks strangest is the jeans-wearing, camera-toting, stuck-in-the-modern-moment YOU!)
In 2004, after five years of redevelopment, a playful marketing campaign got the word out that Silver Spring had finally “sprung.” Last night, as I entered downtown’s new concert venue, The Fillmore, to see Mary J. Blige, I felt the biggest bounce since the AFI’s Silver Theatre rolled out the red carpet for its first Silver Docs film festival eight years ago. With the opening of The Fillmore, Downtown Silver Spring has made another giant leap toward being a hip destination.
Unfortunately, the palpable excitement amongst the people in line, dressed up to see one of the greatest R&B singers around, began to wane after the first hour of line standing. Doors were supposed to open at 7, but at 8 we were still making friends with MJB fans in front of and behind us and watching the mounted police patrol the streets.
The Golden Flame, an overlooked bar on Fenton, must have seen a nice up-tick in its nightly receipts thanks to frustrated concertgoers, eager to keep their spirits up (and their hair dry), who ducked into the throwback cocktail lounge for flavored vodka or a glass of wine, killing time.
Finally, after dark, we reached the fancy LA-style front-door canopies and the wands of security guards.
Once in, moods lifted as high as the crystal chandeliers sparkling over the wooden dance floor. The Fillmore is both elegant and cool, a spacious interior with bars aplenty, dramatic lighting, and vibrant concert posters decorating the walls.
When the site remedies its inexplicable entry delays, I can’t imagine a better local place to see your favorite performer. Season ticket holders get seats on the second level perimeter with great views of the stage and the happy throngs below.
Mary J. had the crowd singing along as they held cell phones and cameras aloft, recording the memorable scene.
Silver Sprung, baby.
I try to be friends with people who do good things. One of my best friends volunteers good works for the POTUS and if you’re not sure who that is, read on.
A ferociously windy Monday found me next to her in line for a free tour of the White House. Now, mind you, all the White House tours are free, but, if you’re clever, you arrange a visit months in advance and, if you’re lucky, there is space for your party to gain admittance on your hoped for date. Harder to engineer, maybe, than tickets to David Letterman or Oprah: a bit of tricky timing.
I hadn’t been clever, but, thanks to my friend, I was sure lucky.
It was Volunteer Day (and---here’s the lucky part---one guest each!) No one noticed that I hadn’t done a thing to help (but vote for the current resident) and in we went to ogle the lavishly decorated mansion.
From the elegant wreaths of fruit that framed the views of the Jackie Kennedy Garden to the white chocolate model of the house we walked through, it was festive and impressive: grand, but also cozy---the quintessential American home.
I did see some great presidents (like Abe) but not the current POTUS. Hmm, maybe I’d better sign up to volunteer.