Fresh Places for Fresh Faces: The Voice’s Guide to Arts & Culture in D.C.

Fresh Places for Fresh Faces: The Voice’s Guide to Arts & Culture in D.C.

By:
08/31/2018

The Dupont Underground

By Emma Francois

The Dupont Underground is cool, so let’s get that out of the way. This arts and cultural platform occupies the old (built in 1949, to be exact) trolley station underneath Dupont Circle. In 1962, the D.C. government swapped the streetcar system for buses, abandoning the tunnels. Even a brief stint as fallout shelters in the 60s and a short-lived gig as a food court in the 90s could not save them (to no one’s surprise, a subterranean grub buffet did not go over well). In 2017, taggers revamped the wall decor (graffiti), and recently the tunnels have housed cocktail hours, a New York Times fashion and politics panel, an exhibit of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalism, and will host the upcoming “Art in Revolution: A Discussion on the State of Artistic Freedom” event on Sept. 6. Like street style, it’s a hodgepodge of grunge and bohemian—high and low.

Sofar Sounds

By Devon O’Dwyer

Want an easy way to discover new bands and enjoy live music? Look no further than Sofar Sounds, a company that specializes in organizing hidden gigs around the city (and the globe!). Sofar distinguishes itself from traditional concerts by providing an intimate atmosphere for artists. At a Sofar show, you bring your own blankets and pillows to lounge on the floor, and you are encouraged to go phone-free for the duration of the concert. To attend, apply for a ticket online each month. If you’re chosen for a ticket via lottery, you’ll be able to bring a few friends and see three mystery artists at a secret location that could be anywhere from a roof to an attic or office space (the address is delivered to your inbox the day before the show) for about $20 per ticket. The next time you want to forgo one of the major venues for a more intimate concert, consider this hidden gem.

Busboys & Poets

By Katie Randolph

With seven locations in the DMV area and an array of brunch, books, and live performances, Busboys and Poets is the perfect place to get a break from the routine of life at Georgetown. Founded by Iraqi-American artist Andy Shallal, the chain was named after Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy before finding fame as a poet. Each location hosts a variety of events, from youth open mics to American Sign Language poetry events, and jazz hours. There’s even a $5 open mic night for musicians and spoken word poets every Tuesday at the 14th and V Street store. Busboys and Poets’ commitment to diversity makes it an excellent destination for a night out or a cup of coffee as you begin to find your way around D.C.         

DC Improv Comedy Club

By Inès De Miranda

Despite the fact that Netflix Comedy Specials have created wider audiences for comedians, I think that stand-up comedy is still underrated as a form of entertainment. DC Improv offers a wide variety of performers, that range from exclusively stand-up comics to actors, live podcasters, and everything in between. It’s not only a fun way to spend a night out, but it is usually pretty cheap (often around $20). The club features both up-and-coming comedians and some heavy hitters—this September, Craig Robinson, best-known for playing Darryl in The Office, is performing from the 27th to the 30th. The setting of this comedy club has an intimate vibe, partly because it isn’t huge, so everyone is fairly close to the performer. It creates an opportunity for interactions between the comedian and the audience that deviate from the scripted show. It’s a fun way to leave the “Georgetown Bubble” behind and spend the night laughing with a couple of friends.

9:30 Club

By Claire Goldberg

The District has a wealth of concert venues, but only one manages to be the perfect fit for nearly every artist that comes its way: the 9:30 Club. The first concert I saw there was Tennis, by myself, on my birthday. I was so in love with every part of that performance, but what I loved most was the venue itself. It’s large enough to host big-name bands and singers, but small enough to make every concert feel beautifully intimate. Seeing anyone at the 9:30 Club is one of the best ways to spend a night, whether it’s hard rock, punk, pop, or anything in between. Upcoming shows include Car Seat Headrest on Sept. 20, Owl City on Sept. 22, and Kali Uchis on Oct. 10. Tickets are usually $20-30, and they’re tough on IDs, so don’t even try to bring a fake. I’m looking at you, overconfident freshmen.

Kennedy Center Terrace

By Timmy Sutton

Some of the most lauded artists in the world perform at the Kennedy Center, and there are also regular, free shows at Millennium Stage every night at 6 p.m. However, I’ve found a different charm in the Kennedy Center—I go to the Kennedy Center Terrace when I’m looking not to be found. It is just far enough away for you to be anonymous. Bring a book, or a new podcast, or nothing at all. Watch the sun be swallowed or spat out by the earth. Don’t study. There is value in going someplace specifically to escape the feeling that you’re supposed to be doing something. So many people have stood where you’re standing: some of the most successful people in the world, some nobodies. Now, it’s you. Experience that escape in all its alone-not-lonely glory. Then come home, and say hello to all the people who love you.

Landmark E Street Cinema

By Caitlin Mannering

Landmark E Street remains my favorite movie theatre in D.C. for many reasons. I could tell you about the time I saw Call Me By Your Name there in a tiny theater with only five other people and was transported into director Luca Guadagnino’s vibrant, slow-moving Italian summer of 1983. Or another time when I attended Dave McCary’s whimsical Brigsby Bear and stumbled into a Q&A with him and the star of the film, Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney. E Street, unlike other theatres, hosts a variety of events with directors, screenwriters, and other creative minds, providing viewers with different perspectives behind a film’s making. The theatre holds screenings for indie and foreign films that often cannot be found elsewhere in the city. It possesses an old-school charm, somehow maintaining a grand yet intimate aura all at once. So, when you’re trying to ditch the crowds and the latest blockbuster at the AMC, retreat to E Street’s more subdued magic instead.

Songbyrd Record Cafe

By Emily Jaster

I first stumbled into Songbyrd Record Cafe for brunch in the wake of a too-long wait at Tryst, a popular Adams Morgan cafe, but it was a discovery to define my Georgetown experience. Upstairs, Songbyrd has two rooms: a restaurant-bar in one, and a combined cafe-record store in the other. The basement is a concert hall, home to $10 concerts, free open mics, and performances by Georgetown’s own Creative Collective. It’s a place to discover new music in an intimate, energetic setting, and take a piece of it home with you, in vinyl. It’s also the place to study with a delicious brew and still feel immersed in D.C. culture. Even if you’re trapped in Lau all week, Songbyrd offers an online radio featuring local musicians—perhaps to beckon you back to the district concert scene.

Merriweather Post Pavilion

By Brynne Long

If you’re hoping to see one of your favorite artists in the area without breaking the bank, Merriweather Post Pavilion is the perfect outdoor concert venue. In Columbia, Maryland, about an hour-long drive away from campus, Merriweather is something of a hike, but worth the distance. It boasts a large, green yard that offers both space for picnicking and a good view of the stage, no matter where you’re sitting. The acoustics of the pavilion suit every genre of music type, and their amplification system makes every seat a good one. From large-scale techno-pop concerts with artists like The Chainsmokers to intimate acoustic performances by musicians like Jason Isbell and Ryan Adams, all of my experiences there have been fantastic. It’s a popular venue that attracts well-known artists, so if you’re hoping to catch a show there, be sure to follow their social media closely so that you get your tickets on time!

Nationals Park

By Tristan Lee

Whether you are an avid sports fan or just want to check out the city, Nationals Park should definitely be on your D.C. checklist. With the Nationals vying for a playoff spot this season, the beginning of the school year is the perfect time to visit this beautiful ballpark. Nats fans almost always pack the stadium, providing an electric atmosphere. Nats Park is located in southeast D.C., an easy Uber ride from campus, and just off the Navy Yard station on the Green Line. Ballpark food is a bit pricey, as always, but the Chesapeake crab cake sandwiches are a must-have; there’s even a Shake Shack in the Right Field Pavilion. There are also some cool places to see in the surrounding area, like the Bullpen, a bar just outside the Center Field Gates. Check out StubHub or Gametime for tickets to make sure you don’t miss out on an incredible experience.

Image Credits: Flickr

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