Monday, September 21, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Pt. I

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, school is back in session, and Kanye has had his annual VMA meltdown, I guess it’s finally time to say goodbye to summer. I'm still not quite ready to let go yet. So before it’s officially time to turn back the clocks, here are some of my own personal highlights from summer 09. The stuff I loved, the stuff that maybe you missed, and the stuff that made those long, muggy DC days that much sweeter.

Street/Studio Show
This summer the Irvine brought together some of the biggest names in street art from long-time stalwarts like Shepherd Fairey and Dalek to up-and-comers like Brooklyn's Gaia and Oliver Vernon. The show combined elements of graff, stenciling, design, and muralism, each piece exploring and deconstructing the notion of street vs. studio art. Some of my favorite work came from NYC’s Imminent Disaster, who took over the Irvine walls with larger-than-life paper cut-outs that were both ornate and haunting.

Girls Rock! DC

For the second year in a row, I spent one week in August teaching a group of girls the ins and outs of DJing at Girls Rock! DC. Open to girls ages 8 – 18 and led entirely by a team of volunteers, GR!DC is a one-of-a-kind summer camp dedicated to both education and empowerment. Campers take part in daily instrument instruction, form bands, and in just five days write and perform their own original songs. There are a
lso workshops on everything from teambuilding to zine making, a "daily scream," and lunchtime performances by local women musicians.This year's campers took the stage for a final showcase on Aug. 15 at the 9:30 club. It was hands down the best show I’ve been to all year. The DJ crews straight smashed it with a bangin' mix featuring everything from M.I.A. to Blaqstarr to E.U. to Tribe. The bands were equally as amazing, commanding the crowd with a fist-pumping barrage of crushing guitars and booming drums. Pint-size rockers Pie in the Face (seriously, THE best name ever…can someone please sign these girls now?!?) perhaps summed things up best. “Eat this, it's the power of rock and roll!" they sang. It’s the power of rock, indeed ladies. And I can’t wait to rock out with y'all again next summer.


It’s not quite summer until I’ve hopped on a cheap crowded bus headed to the city that never sleeps. I love home but sometimes a girl just needs a change of scenery (not to mention an escape from all the tourists on the Mall, Hill interns, and Metro congestion). This year I made the trip in June to visit my BFF Russell, yet another local expat turned Brooklyn transplant.

We spent the weekend taking in the view from his Williamsburg loft, cruising the DIY wares at the Renegade Craft Fair, stuffing our faces with amazing Indian and Venezuelan food, and dancing to nu-rave electro at a club in Soho. My last night there I ended up at a hipster house party where I not only managed to enter an impromptu hula-hoop contest and dance with a Talib look-alike, but was also treated to a performance by a naked disco-pop girl group. Only in NY, right? Well, at least only in Williamsburg.

Aloft at the National Harbor
PG County has never exactly been known for its nightlife (Club Outback and Tradewinds do not count). But all that is beginning to change thanks to the National Harbor. It still may be a tough sell for much of the DMV to cross the bridge into the sprawling megaplex of restaurants, corporate chains, and conference centers. But as I found when I went down in July, the Harbor actually gets pretty live. I made the trip in July to see my homegirl The Pinstriped Rebel DJ at the Aloft, a W Hotel on the Harbor’s main strip.

She takes over the lounge in the boutique hotel’s bar every other Saturday spinning nujazz, dream-pop, and downtempo. The night I went, it was buzzing with a diverse crowd relaxing on the balcony, people-watching, and enjoying the beautiful view. I'm not surprised it's become a weekend destination for more and more people. The space is gorgeous with ambience to spare. Plus, it's a chill spot with reasonably priced drinks, good music, and sits right across the street from Art Whino.

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