Your Best December

At the start of each month the BYT staff compiles a list of things we’re particularly looking forward to seeing, reading, eating, touching etc. Our goal is for you to have the best possible month. Here are 30+ events, items, ideas that will make this December your best month.

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Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry @ National Gallery of Art  through January 28th

Because nothing fits a winter museum visit than “quiet scenes unfolding in private household spaces and featuring elegant ladies and gentlemen” done exquisitely by old Dutch oil paint masters. In a time when Instagram-is-museum-king, use this month to remind yourself about truly timeless cultural values. -Svetlana Legetic

Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance, c. 1664, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener Collection

Artshow_17: Freaky Future @ Hole in the Sky DC December 2

Since 2013, Hole in the Sky, a “collectively-used artist workspace and dive gallery” located in Eckington, has been hosting curated group art shows showcasing the work of exceptional and under-represented local artists. On December 2, Hole in the Sky presents the 17th iteration of this ongoing series with a presentation of “future-thinking” works from more than 64 artists. Hole in the Sky shows tend to be very intimate and thrive on the connection between artist and audience. With the added bonus of food provided by Milk Cult and music by The Deep State Trio, ArtShow_17 will surely continue to raise Hole in the Sky’s reputation as a unique space for special talent in the district. -Ruben Gzirian

Georgetown GLOW @ Georgetown December 8 through January 7

I look forward to these gorgeous light installations every year! Every year, GLOW gets a little bigger and cooler and with a mix of international artists and local favorites like Robin Bell, 2017 looks like it is continuing the trend. This is the season of light after all. Plus I live in an apartment and can’t decorate my own building so I get my holiday light fix like this. BONUS: Save December 14th for GLOW All Night (more details to come) -Jenn Tisdale

photo by Franz Mahr, from 2016 GLOW

Neon Cat @ Cherry Blossom Creative December 8 through 15

NeonCat is an art show that travels around D.C. showing off indie artists creations. This December they’re taking over Cherry Blossom Creative for their Animal Kingdumb, which means you can expect a whole slew of art focused on the relationship between animals and humans. NeonCat’s website has a list of topics meant to get artists inspired about the theme, and it features everything from Planet of the Apes to furries to My Little Pony. If the show is half as weird as some of the gifs on their website, it’s gonna be alright. -Kaylee Dugan

 

Samantha Bee talks with Rebecca Traister @ Kennedy Center December 1

In a year where progressive feminists are tired of taking your shit, Samantha Bee is the poster woman for Not Fucking Having It. The host of Full Frontal was already doing fantastic work before Trump was elected – Full Frontal’s reporting on the 2010 elections and the rape kit backlog is some of the most important stuff a late night show has done maybe ever – and this year her voice as a not-man in late night has been even more valuable. Plus, she’s talking with Rebecca Traister, one of the most interesting feminist writers currently working, so not a bad way to close out 2017. -Trisha Brown

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Chai-vy & Cohen-y December 1 through 15

Drink Company aren’t the only people getting in the holiday spirit. One of our favorite dive bars, Ivey & Coney is throwing their hat into the pop-up bar ring and transforming themselves into Chai-vy & Cohen-y D.C.’s first Hanukkah bar. They promise some pretty wild decorations, all of the Manischewitz and latke’s you could possibly want, as well as some pretty sick dreidel competitions. I’m personally beyond excited to see the Spinagogue™ in action. You can always count on Ivey & Coney to do it right. -Kaylee Dugan

Speaking of Drink Company, peruse our photos of their Miracle on 7th Street… 

Literary Cocktails: Hans Christian Andersen @ Petworth Citizen December 7

I’m mostly interested in this because I kinda want to know what weird literary cocktails are inspired by Andersen’s twisted as hell fairy tales. To be clear: this is the guy who wrote the version of The Little Mermaid where her tongue gets cut out so that she can eternally suffer excruciating pain as a walking non-mermaid all for the sake of some rando prince she’s never actually talked with. But the good people at Petworth Citizen are wildly creative, so I have faith in what they can do with “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Princess and the Pea.” -Trisha Brown

Drink The District Wine Festival – Holiday Edition, December 8 and 9, December 15 and 16

Because nothing says Holidays quite like not one but two weekends of unlimited wine tastings (with friends) BONUS: Get 30% off by using the code BYT30 through Dec 1 at midnight (that’s tonight)

10th Annual Repeal Day Ball @ Andrew W Mellon Auditorium December 9

This is it. Easily one of the most fun events of December, if not the entire year. Every year, the DC Craft Bartenders Guild throws a shindig to rival all other cocktail bashes, celebrating the (this year’s 84th) anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. The event is a blast every year, with guests enjoying cocktails crafted by Washington DC’s best bartenders (and the nation’s, as there are always guest bartending teams from award-winning bars) while dancing along to Prohibition-era tunes. Added bonus: this is the first year this black tie affair will be hosted at the historic Andrew C. Mellon Auditorium overlooking the National Mall.

As always, a portion of this year’s proceeds will go to the Anacostia Watershed Society, a local foundation dedicated to protecting and restoring the Anacostia River and its watershed communities by cleaning the water, recovering the shores, and honoring the heritage. This event had grown from 150 people year one to over 500 the last few years, and now an expected 900 attendees this year…be a part of that crowd. This event rules. -Logan Hollers

DGDC Repeal Day 5

The Disaster Artist in theatres December 1

If you’ve never seen the cult classic film The Room, stop reading this right now, find a screening (it always seems to be running at E Street or AFI Silver Spring), and watch it now – not only are you in for a treat but this recommendation and the film itself will make no sense to you. Also trying to explain what The Room is about to someone who’s never seen it involves too many “trust me’s” and bad accent impressions for one blurb. Based on The Room actor and very patient friend-ish of Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero’s book (written with Tom Bissell) The Disaster Artist, the film follows the fraught and funny making of the film The Room. This film is almost a love letter to the The Room, which is now a cherished film in the comedy community. With a seriously star studded cast (James and Dave Franco, Seth Rogan, Sharon Stone, and on and on), James Franco directing, and the serious writing chops of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (the team behind 500 Days of Summer and Fault in Our Stars) this isn’t just one long SNL-type sketch, but a genuine and smart attempt to capture the experience behind making such a bizarre, rollercoaster of a train wreck film. -Diana Metzger

Read our feature about working with Wisea…

The Shape of Water in theatres December 1

The new Guillermo del Toro movie, The Shape of Water looks like something Tim Burton would have made if he didn’t turn into a caricature of himself at some point in the last two decades. A “dark fairytale” in the vein of del Toro’s masterful Pan’s Labyrinth, the movie follows the off-kilter romance between a mute woman and a sea monster held captive in a government laboratory during the Cold War. I’m on board! -Matt Byrne

I, Tonya in theatres December 8

Nothing gets me quite fired up like a great Oscar bait biopic, except maybe a Lifetime movie. I, Tonya promises to be the (dare I say) gold medal winner version of a Lifetime movie. I, Tonya tells the story from Tonya Harding’s point of view, which is a side America didn’t see very often as she was painted the villain and Nancy Kerrigan, the hero. With the indie cred of director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), the tear-jerker writing chops of screenwriter Steven Rogers (my favorite watch-and-cry Stepmom), and the guaranteed best actress win move of a gorgeous actress going grungy and “real” in Margo Robbie this film promises to be seriously good and seriously fun. I mean, Allison Janney plays Tonya’s mom, and I feel like everything she touches turns to gold. This movie is so well timed, not only for the holidays and award season, but to get American audiences amped for the Winter Olympics. Viewers love a good Olympic scandal (case in point Ryan Lochte) and the 1994 drama between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding is EPIC. Seriously, if you have no clue what I’m talking about, go check out the excellent 30 For 30 about it, which also inspired Rogers to write the film, and watching it would be an excellent pre-game to seeing I, Tonya. I’m almost jealous of those who know nothing about this scandal because it’s that good. -Diana Metzger

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theatres December 14

Soon Star Wars hype will supersede any positive feelings we have about the holiday season generally. Disney plans to make a Star Wars film a year, every year, until well past our lifetimes, so we better get with the program. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has the potential to be one of the franchise’s best. It’s the second film in a new trilogy, like The Empire Strikes Back, and it is written/directed by Rian Johnshon – who is responsible for Brick, Looper, and that one episode of Breaking Bad. Here’s hoping that Johnson ups the franchise’s dark impulses, and finally transitions Luke into becoming the monster he’s always wanted to be. -Alan Zilberman

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Downsizing in theatres December 22

While I love a damn Alexander Payne movie, his new picture, Downsizing, has been something of a head scratcher for me. It’s more zany and infinitely less grounded than his realistic depictions of Midwestern, upper middle class anxiety, imagining a world where people can be shrunken down to 5 inches high in order to live a more luxurious and lavish lifestyle. It’s an interesting premise that will at least be interesting, if not in the pantheon of Payne’s best works. -Matt Byrne

Coconut Club’s Winter Luau December 5

LA’s very own Coconut Club is expanding to D.C. and people are pumped to get in on that tiki action. While the very Instagram friendly restaurant isn’t ready yet, they do want to prepare you for everything that’s about to come with winter luau party. Get ready for an all you can eat pig roast, plus plenty of cocktails from Cotton & Reed, beachy ice cream from Milk Cult, snacks from Maketto, Paper Horse and Buttercream Bakeshop and some mystery entertainment. It’s a little slice of July in Christmas. -Kaylee Dugan

Some Disassembly Required – Special Holiday Edition @ Mess Hall December 13

I’ve long been an advocate for butchering demonstrations. I get it – it sounds weird. But in today’s shrink-wrapped, grab and go world, it’s easy to forget that the hunk of meat you pick up from the grocery store isn’t just a widget, but something for which an animal gave its life. Sounds macabre, but I’m not trying to guilt trip anyone, promise…more just trying to make sure more people know where their food comes from.

That’s why I’ve loved Mess Hall’s “Some Disassembly Required” butchering series. Rather than being bougey or snotty about an esoteric topic, butchers actually teach you about their craft – why they do things a certain way, why certain cuts of meat belong in certain dishes, and how to waste as little of a whole animal as possible. This month’s special holiday edition features Mike Haney from Potomac Grocer, who will break down a beautiful free range, heritage pig, sourced directly from Spring House Farm, in Lovettsville, VA.

Lest you think that you’re just showing up to watch Porky get turned into ham hocks, each ticket includes unlimited local craft beer and dinner by Sloppy Mama’s BBQ – drink, eat, and learn! There are more expensive tickets that’ll allow you to go home with certain cuts of meat from the pig, but even the base level offers a great demo on food prep, delicious BBQ, and frosty beers. Take a break from the holiday celebrations and enjoy a Wednesday night. -Logan Hollers

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Imaginary World of Nutcracker @ Artechouse December 7 through January 7

Artechouse has a holiday show. Which means Artechouse will probably win the holidays.

Holiday in the Park @ Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ through January 1

My mom and I have season passes to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey (the Maryland one is garbage). We go every summer. We go every fall for Fright Fest and now we’re taking our obsession to a new low…in temperature that is. We’re going to brave the maybe winter cold (global warming y’all!) for Holiday in the Park which features tons of Xmas lights, tons of Xmas goodies (s’more fire pits!) and of course tons of roller coasters that will possibly be too cold to ride. We don’t care. -Jenn Tisdale

Downtown Holiday Market through December 23

I’m a sucker for a good craft fair or flea market or any pop up situation where someone is peddling their own wares. Plus I think it’s nice to holiday shop from folks rather than a chain. Every time I walk through the Downtown Holiday Market I say things like, “Um, that’s so adorable I have to get that for so-and-so,” because I’m secretly my grandmother. -Jenn Tisdale

For more Christmas activities, consult our Christmas in the District feature…

Bon Iver @ The Anthem December 1

Back in May, I described Bon Iver’s latest record as “the album that plays when you’re born, and also when you die”, while also claiming that the 22, A Million tour was “the show to see in 2017.” Well, I MISSED that performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion due to a work trip and I’ve been salty ever since. But life works in mysterious ways and second chances and you miss all the shots you don’t take and bla bla; I’m going to see him at The Anthem and nothing, absolutely nothing, will stop me. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Go back nearly a decade and read our review of Bon Iver opening for Black Mountain at Rock & Roll Hotel in February 2008…

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Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton @ Sixth and I December 2

Known primarily as the front woman of Metric (easily recognized as Scott Pilgrim’s house band), Emily Haines returns to her solo efforts after a decade (her previous album Knives Don’t Have Your Back came out in 2006), backed by her band The Soft Skelton. If Metric is music to wake you up and make you dance, Haines’ most recent solo effort Choir of the Mind (which in sound and lyrics feels like a perfectly literal title) serves to lull you into a dream scape while also making you think deeply. She mostly trades synths for a piano, but don’t think this album won’t translate into a real exciting concert experience. What better place to release her Choir than Sixth and I? -Diana Metzger

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Right Proper Record Fair December 3

Do you like good beer and good tunes? Then get hyped to throwdown with Right Proper. They’re celebrating the second anniversary of their Brookland location with a record fair that’s bringing together D.C. vinyl staples like Songbyrd, Red Onion Records, Joe’s Record Paradise, Joint Custody and Rasslin‘ Records. Project Milanese and Nomad Dumplings will be serving up food, and it goes without saying that the beer will be flowing. -Kaylee Dugan

Feed It Forward DC @ The Brixton December 3

The holiday season can get a bit hectic, with plenty of parties, gift shopping, and travel in and out of DC for those of us heading back home to see family and friends. It’s important to think about those less fortunate than us – and to do our best to give back at the local level.

Feed It Forward DC is a great organization that lends a helping hand to folks in need around the DMV. They’re partnering with Arlington-based reggae band SOJA Sunday, December 3rd, to help assemble and distribute lunches for community members in need. The suggested $10 donation helps cover the cost of lunch supplies, but also gets you a digital download of SOJA’s new record ‘Poetry in Motion’ – as well as entering you in a raffle for a few other pretty cool SOJA-related prizes (tickets to their show at The Anthem on December 29, a signed vinyl of the new record, etc). You can RSVP on Facebook or at [email protected] -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Julie Byrne @ The Miracle Theatre December 8

Julie Byrne writes songs that offer comfort, solace, and healing, landing metaphors with a combination of her finger-picked guitar playing and siren’s voice. The Buffalo native’s music is evergreen, full of saturated hues bursting forth from each verse – it has the same restorative power as a morning hike, or a dip in the ocean. Go catch her show at the Miracle Theatre and take it all in. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Bad Moves @ Black Cat December 13

Bad Moves are quickly becoming the best pop group in D.C. They’re a super group of sorts, with members of Hemlines, Art Sorority for Girls, and The Max Levine Ensemble. But they’re totally their own thing, with amazing hooks and a slightly bitter, defiant snarl to the lyrics. This is one of those “see them before they get big” shows. -Alan Zilberman

Fat Trel @ U Hall December 14

If D.C. rappers were divided into tiers, the tier with “every rapper other than Goldlink and Wale” would be really cramped. Fat Trel, a gritty rapper from D.C.’s Ward 5 with bombastic tendencies similar to his record label boss Rick Ross, would firmly be in that tier. And while that may seem like an insult to Trel, it’s more a reflection D.C.’s unique musical identity. Trel’s earlier work is littered with southern and northern production stylings mixed with the woodblocks and Congos of D.C. His recent work, particularly since signing with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group label in 2013, has lost some of that unique sonic luster but still retains a lyrical prowess that supports Trel’s affirmation in 2012 that he was “the real definition of D.C.” -Ruben Gzirian

Lil Uzi Vert @ The Anthem December 15

There’s a good chance you know somebody who doesn’t like Uzi Vert. Or somebody who’ll gladly espouse how Uzi represents everything bad about the current crop of young hip hop heathens. I’ll also bet that that same person will forget all of that the moment “XO Tour Lif3” or “Do What I Want” or “Money Longer” boom through speakers capable of handling Uzi’s production calling card of low-key bass and high-strung synths. Uzi’s appeal is that seemingly so many people think he doesn’t have one, and yet his popularity—and a recent Grammy nomination for Best New Artist—suggest that he’s becoming an unavoidable musical pillar. His performance at The Anthem—the first rap concert at the venue—may convince you why.-Ruben Gzirian

Dave East @ Howard Theater December 19

Every Dave East song, especially those off of 2017’s don’t-call-it-a-debut Paranoia: A True Story, feels like a salute to the past with a firm step into the future. Depending on what song you listen to, the Bronx rapper can either reawaken memories of a time when every mixtape you made had to have 2-3 Jadakiss songs, or push you through a fast-paced unedited descent through the mind of confident rapper weighed down by the recent loss of two cousins. East’s ability to deliver stories of real loss and suffering on top of hard hitting beats reminiscent of a bygone Queensbridge era is a clear indication that while Atlanta is reveling in the spotlight, New York hip hop is slowly plotting its return. -Ruben Gzirian

Action Bronson @ Fillmore Silver Spring December 22

It’s easy to forget that long before Action Bronson was slathered all over Viceland or rubbing elbows with Mario Batali, he was a reckless Queens rapper driven by a brimming flamboyance that balanced the locality of his upbringing with the exuberance of someone who reveled in the seductions of hedonism. His first albums in 2011, Dr. Lecter and Well-Done, set the stage for a career that, six years later, continues to thrive on the strength of his bigger-than-life personality. His most recent album, 2017’s Blue Chips 7000, is stuffed with eccentric grooves and intricate wacky lyrics that suggest Bronson still loves to rap as much as he likes to drink the best French natural wine. -Ruben Gzirian

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Vanderpump Rules returns to Bravo December 4

To pick a favorite reality TV shitshow cast on Bravo is like the Duggars choosing a favorite child; there are just so many and new ones keep coming. If I’m being ruthless, Vanderpump Rules is my pick. This beautiful, damaged, and botoxed group of sometime servers (mostly Bravo-lebrities) at Sur Restaurant in West Hollywood never ceases to entertain and relax me like a good Xanax. No matter how stressful my life is at least I’m not blackout wasted in my place of business, screaming obscenities at my thrice dumped ex. For a show where the cast stays the same every season, literally and emotionally, this show never gets old. The cast members may have gained a huge following but they’re still willing to fight petty and dirty. Season 6 proves to not disappoint with more breakups and hookups in store, new alliances being formed, and livers still shockingly intact. -Diana Metzger

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Top Chef returns to Bravo December 7

Hypercompetitive find dining cooking competition Top Chef is back for its 15th season, setting down roots in Colorado this season. Top Chef is easily the best reality competition show, I wonder which insanely hateable chef lunatc we’ll meet this season! -Matt Byrne

A Christmas Story Live on Fox December 17

Fox’s doing a live production of A Christmas Story just in time for the holidays. I bet it’s gonna be weird! People will be live Tweeting it, I’m sure, so uh, if that’s your sort of deal, I bet that will be fun to do! Maya Rudolph, Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, and David Alan Grier are among the confirmed cast members as of this writing. That’s a pretty fun cast, tbh! -Matt Byrne

Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains) @ Woolly Mammoth through December 31

Theatre isn’t usually a place for second chances, but Woolly Mammoth has actually offered a couple in 2017. Earlier this year, they revived their acclaimed production of An Octoroon. And, if you missed last December‘s hilarious Second City production, Woolly has a new one going on now.

2016’s The Black Side of the Moon was a song-and-dance variety show examining multiple facets of African-American culture and social experience, but Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains), going on now until New Year’s Eve, hones in on the “harrowing story of how one black man went from six years in a state prison to a six-figure job in corporate America to a new life as an activist and satirist,” according to Woolly’s website. Both shows star comedian Felonious Munk and other members of Chicago’s Second City, both feature music, sketches, and plenty of social commentary. If Nothing to Lose is as good as Black Side, then both are very much worth seeing. -Tristan Lejeune

Les Misérables @ National Theatre December 20 through January 7

Cliché as it is, I’ll admit to having a soft spot for Les Misérables. As a kid growing up in a small town 90 minutes from the nearest big city (Seattle), all I knew about Broadway musicals was what I cobbled together from watching the Rosie O’Donnell show in the afternoons. But my tenth grade English teacher decided to teach Hugo’s classic by using a recording of the musical instead of the book, and despite expanding my knowledge of musicals in the years since, Les Mis has stayed my favorite. And not just because it saved me from having to read a 1,400 page book. -Trisha Brown