1. H Street NE Festival
Out of all the street festivals that I explored in September (and there were many), the H Street NE festival was my favorite. Super diverse, super laid back. A DC bike map sponsored by WABA, an invitation to join the Black Girls Run movement (they do not discriminate!), and a yummy Burgorilla black bean burger were some of the highlights of the event.
The most memorable part still was a dance performance by a group of multi-cultural kids. All that energy and joy! Towards the end of the performance, I was astonished to realize that all the kids were actually deaf or hard of hearing. Incredible. Inspired by what I saw, I wanted to learn to understand better how these kids can be so great dancers without hearing the music, and found an excellent article on the topic by Gallaudet University.
2. 7th Street Social
It was my third evening in DC when I was walking back from my yoga class and saw an amazing scene: 50 or so cyclists were riding together, led by a bike that carried a huge stereo system. It looked like loads of fun! The only problem was I had no clue what was going on or who was behind the event.
Fortunately, soon I figured out that I had spotted the 7th Street Social, which is something between a group ride or a party on wheels organized by a local bike shop, BicycleSPACE. Last Thursday I joined the ride. For two hours we biked around the Capitol Hill area with music playing and lights blinking. We even rode up the ramp of an empty 4-story parking garage somewhere in Navy Yard to take a popsicle break at the rooftop, overlooking the waterfront and the city lit up at night. Unforgettable!
3. Nuit Blanche DC at Wonder Bread Factory
DC tends to have somewhat dull reputation. Based on my first month here, this is an unfair verdict. All you need is to make friends with a few nice key individuals, in my case an interior design student and a graphic designer, and all of a sudden cool-hunting becomes very easy.
As a result, you may find yourself at events like Nuit Blanche DC. This event was a part of Art All Night DC 2013, a free overnight arts festival in the Shaw neighborhood right next to the Howard University. The four floors of the renovated, post-industrial venue, Wonder Bread Factory, were filled with installations, performing and visual arts, short films, and DJs. For a street art fan like me, seeing graffiti artists in (legal) action was like Christmas.
The Finnish readers could imagine the event being a mix of the Flow Festival and the Night of Arts in Helsinki. And similarly to these events back home, randomly bumping into acquaintances happened all the time. I had not even realized that I already know enough people in DC for that to happen. DC really is a village rather than a city, a cool village.