October 1, 2023


Booking Travel

Best of D.C. 2023: Arts & Entertainment

D.C. is a town of arts institutions, but new places deserve to be celebrated as well. This year’s collection of arts & entertainment picks from City Paper contributors include freshly opened venues as well as tributes to establishments that have kept us captivated for all our years in D.C.

To see what readers selected in Arts & Entertainment categories, click here.

Best Place To Rave


If you thought one dance music venue with warehouse vibes in D.C. was enough, you’re forgiven for being mistaken. That’s because Nü Androids founder Nayef Issa has given us a concert space we didn’t know we needed: an intimate, 5,500-square-foot hall with vaulted ceilings and a quadraphonic sound system, where you can feel the music pass through you. Rather than overwhelming you, sound resonates without inhibiting casual conversation—no shouting necessary. Culture has already hosted electronic heavy hitters TOKiMONSTA and Mind Against, and true to its name, the modular venue serves up diverse experiences tailored to each new performer. While not technically a nightclub, D.C.’s wildest night out is in Ivy City. 2006 Fenwick St. NE. culturedc.com  —Dave Nyczepir

Best Preshow Entertainment

Alamo Drafthouse

Watching the credits before a movie screening is a matter of personal taste. For some, it’s an integral part of the moviegoing experience, while others would prefer to arrive just as the first production company title card appears on screen. Even if you’re in the latter camp, it’s worth arriving the suggested 30 minutes before showtime at Alamo Drafthouse. Every movie is preceded by a curated selection of videos, sometimes thematically relevant to what’s showing, and sometimes utterly baffling. Regardless, they’re miles better than trivia questions about Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. A friend and I finished dinner early before our showing of Magic Mike’s Last Dance and decided to kill time at the theater, then were rewarded with some grainy ’80s male stripper videos and shaky cellphone footage of Channing Tatum’s youthful days as an actual exotic dancer. Before settling in for Theater Camp, a film likely only appreciated by theater nerds like the ones portrayed on screen, the chosen clips didn’t have much in common besides some bizarre theater kid energy. They were giddy and delightful nonetheless, including a video of a man playing a teapot like a flute and Toni Basil’s unhinged music video for “Walking the Dog,” featuring ballerinas costumed as pink poodles. Alamo prides itself on employing film lovers and spotlighting classic cinema, and it’s clear these preshow reels are assembled by nerds who have dug around the deepest corners of the internet to find their clips. Even their announcement content is tops—what better way to get people to stay the fuck off their phones than having Janeane Garofalo herself give a rambling admonishment to the audience? If you’re going to a showing at a Regal theater on the other hand, do yourself a favor and show up as late as possible, so you don’t have to be subjected to one of the worst pieces of preshow entertainment of all time. Multiple locations. drafthouse.com. —Stephanie Rudig

Best Storytime

Tara Hoot

In a city filled with talented drag artists, it’s nearly impossible to pick the best, but this year, as lawmakers across the country have spewed hate targeted directly at trans, queer, and drag communities, one local queen has stood out. In February, Tara Hoot’s Drag Storytime brunch at Crazy Aunt Helen’s became a target of the Proud Boys, an extremist group with white-supremacist ideologies. Despite threats, the ticketed, sold-out brunch went on as planned, with restaurant and community support—roughly 200 counterprotesters showed up to offer protection and encouragement to attending children, families, and Hoot. Just shy of 50 and new to drag, Hoot, who told the Washington Post she thought of an escape plan in case the worst happened, didn’t back down either. The LGBTQIA community and its allies far outnumbered the few extremists, and Hoot ended the event reading Marianne R. Richmond’s Be Brave Little One to the crowd. “Be brave to stand up and tell what you know,” she read. Trans and queer people walk through a world where the threat of violence almost always lingers, and the recent targeting of drag artists is another thinly veiled attack on trans people. But that drive to keep going is a defining aspect of queerness and pride. Hoot’s Drag-Storytime-will-go-on attitude is a perfect example of queer resilience—wrapped up in a rainbow taffeta boa and sky-high wigs. tarahoot.com. —Sarah Marloff