When Ryan Duncan began his monthly party Pink Sock one year ago, Washington may have not been prepared. The Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights certainly wasn’t. At the first installation of the Wednesday night party, the bar had to put out a call for extra bartenders to handle the unexpectedly large crowd.
A year later, the crowds still pack the upstairs of Wonderland the third Wednesday of every month, with its fans spilling over to the bar’s first floor and patio. And what began as a party primarily targetting gay men has now grown to include an enthusiastic following of lesbians and straight men and women.
Last week, Duncan revisted his first sucessful year of Pink Sock with a celebration that recapped twelve months of over-the-top themes (ranging from “Zac Efrons Pink Pajama Party,” to “Stripper Wedding,” to “Jem and the Holograms”). With a midnight performance that saw birthday cake smeared over the dancefloor, Duncan hosted a runways walk-off of leprechauns, exotic dancers, Black songtress divas, and Japanese cartoon characters – all touching on past party themes.
That night, artist Sherell Rowe added to the midnight performance (along with Baltimore DJ Steve Lemmerman) by slamming the crowd with a few of her live tracks – nearly buckling the dance floor underneath a packed house jumping and spinning about to her music. In that performance, the Pink Sock party revealed much of its success. Over the past year, the party has broken conventions of which gay nightlife in DC had been known. Instead, Duncan hasn’t been afraid to mix performance art with DJ sets, with live musical performances. It’s a reason why the crowd he attracts is so multiracial, mixed in gender, and spurs a following that spans from punk to prep.
As Pink Sock continues to evolve, Duncan (also known as DJ RAD) seeks to further innovate nightlife in DC by pushing his party to new limits. It’s usually shocking, but always sweet in nature. And for a party known as being the place where the cool kids want to be, it is always welcoming of everyone. Expect Pink Sock to use that energy to grow even more in its second year in (night) life.
Pink Sock is held the third Wednesday of each month upstairs at the Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights (11th and Kenyon, NW). The party starts at 10:00pm and is packed by midnight. Admission is free. 21 and up.
For more information, follow on Twitter at: @pinksockdc