You did it. You lived through 2017. You are alive and can be well. We’re giving you our picks for what will make January your best month yet. Choose to have a better 2018*.
The following contains 31+ picks to have your best January. Lots of theater by women, books by women and food that benefits everyone.
*Your Best Months of 2018 are all presented in partnership with our friends and partners at Hilton
Most of us have at least some familiarity with the stories of Thanksgiving, Pocahontas, the Trail of Tears, and The Battle of Little Big Horn, and for some in the United States, these four stories might represent the vast majority of what they do know American Indian history and people in this country. A new permanent exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian wants to explore why. What is it about these four narratives that grants them such broad staying power in America, and how much reality is actually reflected in the stories we purport to know? -Trisha Brown
Because, chances are, you will want to lose yourself in something this month, and this mesmerizing 3D install by the Turkish studio Ouchhh may just be the ticket.
When to Jump by Mike Lewis with foreword by Sheryl Sandberg available January 9 – stay tuned for DC events
Chances are you are filled with resolutions as you read this: this year will be better, this year I’ll be happier. BYT friend Mike Lewis has a perfect book coming out this month for turning that feeling into the reality. With the tagline “If the job you have is not the life you want”, Lewis takes his podcast and blog to print and shares forty stories of people who made a difference in their own lives―from a banker who started a brewery, a publicist who became a Bishop, a garbage collector who became a furniture designer, and on and on―which are so clear-eyed and inspiring that you will feel you CAN do it too. And you can. You really can. Sheryl Sandberg joins the party with an inspiring forward and therefore lends the ultimate seal of approval. -Svetlana Legetic
After a bitter war of words between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cornel West, which pushed Coates to delete his very popular and active Twitter account, this event will be a now very unique opportunity to hear Coates’ take on current events while promoting his book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. There’s no doubt discussion about his book alone will be incredibly engaging, especially with the one year anniversary of “he who shall not be named’s” inauguration, but with this latest public feud and the frustrating decision of Marvel Comics cancelling his Black Panther spin-off collaboration with Roxane Gay there will be no dull moments for sure. Only unfortunate thing to this night is that there will be no book signings at the event. You’ll have to admire him from afar, but at least it’s closer than a tweet. -Diana Metzger
Let’s be honest: at this time last year, most of us were wondering if the Women’s March was going to completely implode. The leaders seemed disorganized and maybe facing an impossible task, and the would-be marchers were discouraged and preoccupied with wondering how in the hell a majority of white women voted for Donald Trump. But once January 21, 2017 rolled around, women – and all types of other humans – filled streets across the world, setting the tone for 2017 to become a year in which women would not be silent. A year later, you can hear in person the story of how the organizers pulled it off. -Trisha Brown
Billed as not just a memoir but a manifesto, McGowan’s book is a rallying cry for the #MeToo era. If you’ve been living under a rock and under that rock has no WiFi, you may have missed that McGowan was at the forefront of speaking up against Harvey Weinstein. She has since been very vocal on twitter about supporting victims of sexual assault. While she’s gotten into some arguments over social media with fellow celebrities, calling them out on complicit behavior, she’s nothing if not entirely herself and entirely raw. Her memoir promises to be a true deep dive into her experiences as a young woman in Hollywood and the cult of fame and notoriety. -Diana Metzger
2017 was an excellent year for narrative non-fiction written by women. Books like Samantha Irby’s We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Roxane Gay’s Hunger, and Nasty Women, the anthology edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding, showed the breadth and depth of talent among contemporary female writers, and particularly authors of color. The release of Morgan Jerkins’ new collection of essays suggests that 2018 is starting out equally strong. Jerkins is a smart, thoughtful writer, and if the work she’s already done on feminism, race, and entertainment and culture are any indication, her new book will be one of the year’s must-reads. -Trisha Brown
For its seventh anniversary, Bier Baron – aka, the House of Fallen Brickskeller – is throwing a cask festival. (Side note: Holy shit, Bier Baron is seven years old!?!) This isn’t your grandpappy’s cask festival, though. Oh no, this is a cask competition.
OK, buckle up, here’s how it works: For $25, you get to drink 5 oz. pours of over 20 casks, then you vote for a winner, and then… yeah, well, then the winner wins. Also, you are drunk at this point. Maybe it’s not so crazy.
The participating brewery list is stellar, though. You can expect your local crushes (UNION Craft, 3 Stars, DC Brau), out-of-town all-stars (SingleCut, Toppling Goliath, Interboro), Leesburg brewery Crooked Run (who everyone is in lurv with), and many more. There’s also a pricier VIP option that includes food and a reserved table from whence you can stunt on all the standing losers.
If you were like me, turning 21 entailed an excessive amount of shots, immediately followed by vomiting in your significant other’s apartment. Thankfully, Firestone Walker is a little classier than that. These are originally wine people, after all.
On January 11, the venerable California brewery will celebrate its 21st birthday with a party at Logan Circle beer mecca Churchkey. As you might expect, the beer list is epic. Since Firestone Walker does pretty much everything is exceedingly well, that means a pretty diverse range of cellared-away offerings, from barrel-aged imperial stouts (Velvet Merkin 2013; Parabola 2013) to exquisite sours (Agrestic; Krieky Bones) to that thick, figgy brown stuff (Double DBA 2013; Stickee Monkee 2014; Sucaba 2013). They’ll also have this year’s anniversary ale (a blend of Merkin, Parabola, Stickee Monkee, Bravo, and Helldora), and the 2012 edition because why not? And, last but not least, local beer deity Greg Engert is hooking up the STiVO, Firestone Walker’s collab pilsner with Russian River. Awwww yeah. To paraphrase Destiny’s Child: Pils, pils, pils.
Like most ChurchKey events, it’s an all-you-can-drink-for all-you-can-pay event. Tasters will be available for you tickers. -Phil R
Don’t be confused: Cushwa sounds like a weed shop, but it actually makes beer. Very good beer, in fact. To wit: Meridian Pint Beer Director Jace Gonnerman listed Cushwa’s Fog at Daybreak Pale Ale as one of his favorite beers of 2017, which is fake Nic Cage voice high praise!
The Baltimore brewery celebrates one year of business at the end of the month. There’s not much out there about what the party actually entails, but you can probably expect to fill your belly with New England-style IPAs and be happy. (The brewery makes a very nice saison and English bitter, too.) (But, really, it’s about the haze here.) -Phil R
We have a radio show! But since you’re reading this you’ll probably listen to it as a podcast. Each week we (me, Brandon Wetherbee, the guy writing this) talk to BYT staff, contributors and subjects about what’s been on this here site. We close each episode with some of our picks from our Best Weekend Bets.
If you’re actually listening, in less than an hour you’ll get caught up on the best arts and culture in and around D.C. If you’re not really listening but it’s on in the background you’ll still take away a few tidbits that’ll make you seem informed. We’re like public radio with a few bad words and no pledge drives.
Listen live. Subscribe in iTunes. Rate and review if you’ll say nice things and give 5 stars. What’s the point in a 3 star review? Who does that benefit? Who does that destroy? Anyway, thanks for considering listening. We’re assuming you’re considering listening if you’re still reading.
Just throwing this out there: healthy body is bound to house a healthier mind. So, here is an easy to keep resolution – aim to try something new with your body every week this month.
As we all know, there is no murder like a snowed-in murder so we are very excited to be partnering with D.C.’s own Suns Cinema on a month of mysteries. BYT will be curating the Thursday nights – all of which are going to be retro, closed-room, slightly-campy mysteries. Three of these movies (Sleuth set in a British castle with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, The Last of Sheila set on a yacht in the Mediterranean with James Coburn, Raquel Welch and Diane Cannon, and Murder by Death set in a gothic mansion owned by Truman Capote and starring Maggie Smith, Peter Falk and David Niven) you likely have not seen, and one (Clue, which we saved for the end of the month) you most definitely have, but we promise they are ALL great and well worth the $5 admission. Regardless, come join us and lets solve some fictional crimes together. Follow links above to score tickets and be on the look-out for cool editorial to surround it.
Proud Mary in theaters January 12
Taraji P. Henson stars in the very intriguing looking noir/exploitation throwback flick Proud Mary. I’m hoping it’s good, but the last thing the director, Babak Najafi, made was the terminally dumb patriot-bait London Has Fallen so who knows??? Either way, Henson plays a hitwoman whose life gets turned upside-down after a gig goes wrong. I hope it’s at least fun!! -Matt Byrne
Ok, right off the bat: these events are both hella bougey and hella expensive. But don’t let that scare you off without learning more; both events benefit DC Central Kitchen (a nonprofit that uses career training and job creation to help break the cycle of hunger and poverty) and Martha’s Table (a group that supports stronger kids, families, and communities by increasing access to quality education, healthy food, and family support here in D.C). Since its first event, Sips and Suppers has raised over $2.5 million (!) in financing for the essential programs run by these two organizations.
Celebrating its tenth year, Sips and Suppers began in 2009, when Chef Alice Waters started the event to raise awareness of DC’s homelessness and hunger issues. Chef Waters returns again this year to host the event alongside Chef Joan Nathan and our very own Chef José Andrés, fresh off a year in which he continually roasted President Trump on Twitter and, more importantly, helped feed Puerto Rico after it was hit by a devastating hurricane.
As you might guess based on the title, the events consist of two separate stages: Sips and Suppers.
Sips, held at the Newseum on Saturday, January 27, features top chefs and mixologists crafting signature dishes and drinks. A live band accompanies the food and booze at the event, as well as numerous chefs and service industry professionals mingling with the crowds and celebrating the amazing work being done by DCCK and Martha’s Table. Pre-sale tickets are $125 until January 8, and can be purchased here.
Suppers, held on Sunday, January 28, features some of the nation’s best chefs cooking meals in more than 35 private homes throughout the DC metro area. Chefs are paired up (the list of participating chefs this year is incredible, btw) to cook for small groups while hosts graciously provide their homes for the evening’s events, allowing attendees to chat up close and personally with the restaurant pros and fellow foodies. Over an introductory cocktail, representatives from DCCK and Martha’s Table lead discussions on DC’s health, economy, and environment. Almost all of the food and wine is donated, and volunteers graciously help serve at the meals. Tickets for the Suppers are $650 (I know, I know, but those great causes!) and are available here.
2017 in large part sucked for the U.S. Natural disasters hitting all over the country, a human disaster leading the country, and some of the worst parts of our nature popping up across the country. Help celebrate the actual good we’re capable of, support the amazing work being done by DCCK and Martha’s Table, and get some damn fine food and booze to boot. Win-win. -Logan Hollers
The Dream Syndicate are jangly guitar band who were never really that popular during their heyday in the 1980s. Still, they devoted a small, devoted fanbase with complex melodies and witty lyrics. In 2017, they released their first new album in years, with a slight shoegaze streak that rivals the new material from Slowdive and Ride. This show will be filled with Gen Xers who are cranky that they don’t make music like they used to. In this one particular case, they’re right. -Alan Zilberman
It says something about an artist when their most popular song is their personal least favorite. Passion Pit (i.e. Michael Angelakos) was literally everywhere (including a Taco Bell commercial) with 2012’s “Take a Walk.” Five years later, and with two albums since 2012’s Gossamer, Passion Pit has continued to evolve around the vestiges of reflection, admitting self-worth, and telling yourself you’re good enough even when you have difficulty believing it. Since the introspective Gossamer, Angelakos has grown as he’s faced personal demons stemming from mental health issues and his sexuality. Passion Pit circa 2017-2018 is about overcoming and facing the impassable all wrapped in an addictive synth sound still easily capable of selling out venues. -Ruben Gzirian
Let’s keep those New Year’s Resolutions going with some yoga followed by a BALLS TO THE WALL dance session at The Kennedy Center (fancy!). This will be a lot easier to wake up for then say that crazy 6a.m. spin class you love to hate. And don’t worry about showering before work. You earned the right to brag. – Jenn Tisdale
Oliver Nelson makes disco-inspired house music that transports you to a feel good moment you haven’t had yet. When I first heard his remix of Ella Henderson’s “Ghost,” I immediately imagined a moment where I was driving a drop top 2001 BMW M3 up California’s Pacific Coast highway. Personal dreams aside, Nelson’s music is all about feeling good; lyrics matter little when the Swedish DJ effortlessly interplays house influences harking back to Duck Sauce and Voulez-Vous ABBA. You may not know many Oliver Nelson songs (I sure don’t), but you’ll enjoy them all the same. That may explain why, at least once a month, I search “Oliver Nelson Originals & Remixes” on Spotify. Oh, and his show at U Hall is free entry before 11 p.m. -Ruben Gzirian
Since her 2012 debut No Mythologies to Follow, Swedish singer MØ has become intrinsically tied to an EDM sound stalwarted by the likes of Diplo, Snakehips, and…Cashmere Cat. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Songs like the infinitely catchy “Final Song” or the cover of the Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There” show that MØ has the vocal arsenal to span the varying production styles she’s gracefully traversed in the past year. Much like MØ, Cashmere Cat has made a name for himself living in a production landscape where trap beats co-habitate with melodic pop cues—his 2017 album 9 is a hodgepodge of EDM, Diplo-esc pop, and bass heavy drops reminiscent of Baauer and TNGHT. Together, these two yin and yang Nordic artists (Cashmere Cat is Norwegian) are pushing the envelope in a musical styling that doesn’t necessarily call for continued evolution. -Ruben Gzirian
Majid Jordan’s music is so much more than moody, sulking R&B delivered on a razor’s edge of romanticized dance music. Their music is a feeling—a feeling of confidence shrouded by doubt, of “I told you so” undercut by “You were right.” Two albums in, the duo from Toronto, who met in 2011 while enrolled at the University of Toronto, have carved out a sonical niche that leverages 1980’s synth-pop to deliver music that celebrates the exploration of dark emotions. This is music about introspection, about love and loss, and about the universality of both. With songs like “Love is Always There” and “Gave Your Love Away,” Majid Jordan have become standouts on a record label (Drake’s OVO) that features R&B household names like PARTYNEXTDOOR and DVSN. -Ruben Gzirian
Over the course of nine albums—the latest being 2017’s Boo Boo—Toro y Moi (led by Chaz Bear) has firmly placed itself in the category of music you’d listen to on a Brooklyn rooftop at 1 a.m. or a D.C. backyard up in Petworth at 4 p.m. That’s not to say their sound hasn’t evolved; Bear’s personal agony following a 2015 breakup with his longtime partner seeps into every crevice of Toro y Moi, making for a sound that’s familiar yet emotive. Songs like “Mirage,” “Girl Like You,” and “No Show” showcase homages to styles ranging from Prince to bubbly pop. In a recent interview, Bear stated that he wanted to step away from touring and focus on studio albums; that makes his DJ set at Flash even more imperative for fans of an increasingly reclusive talent. -Ruben Gzirian
Let’s just get this out of the way right now: between 1998-2004, DMX was a FORCE in hip-hop. His first five albums all reached number one on the Billboard 200 charts, and in 1998, DMX not only released two classics (Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and It’s Dark and Hell is Hot), but also starred in Hype William’s cult-classic Belly. This man, a man who single handedly re-calibrated New York hip-hop in eight months, is a living legend. DMX in 2017 is a shadow of his former self; legal issues have continued to haunt him and he really hasn’t had any hits that have come close to his early career. But none of that matters. On Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down,” Jay Z famously raps “Hov’s a living legend and I’ll tell you why/Everybody wanna be Hov and Hov’s still alive.” That’s DMX in a nutshell. His influence on hip-hop is undeniable. If you care about hip-hop, your desire to see this man should be too. -Ruben Gzirian
What is Brockhampton? Depending on who you ask or what you read, the group, which consists of 15 people, is a recording label, a creative collective, a hip-hop group, a boyband, and a group of guys who all originally met over a shared love for Kanye West. Part of Brockhampton’s appeal is that no one really knows what they are; uplifting pop songs like “Lamb” exist in the same world as lyrically-impressive bangers like “Gold.” And yet somehow this controlled chaos and organized divergence makes sense. Four albums since 2016—the latest is Saturation III—has created a catalogue that’s pushing what it means to be music group in 2017. Their live performances are also highly-regarded, making for a live experience you shouldn’t miss. -Ruben Gzirian
X-Files returns to FOX January 3
The warning signs date back to 2008 with the second feature film, the thoroughly disappointing I Want to Believe. But even that blood-in-the-snow mess could not have prepared you for the hand-over-your-mouth awfulness that was last year’s Season 10 of The X-Files.
Evil psychic siblings. Friendly, Australian-accented lizard men. Dream communion with Muslim terrorists. The ideas were more “discard pile” mediocre than “stop the presses!” bad, but what really killed those six 2016 episodes was the hammy, old-fashioned way they were told. It’s as if showrunner Chris Carter didn’t watch a minute of TV since the original series went off the air in 2002. He could have learned a lot about toying with exposition and structure from The Wire. He might have picked up some hints on subverting heroes (and expectations) from Mad Men or Breaking Bad. And if he’d only payed attention to star Gillian Anderson’s amazing work on The Fall or Hannibal, he’d know that good vs. evil power structures are old hat.
The reboot was a creative catastrophe but not a ratings flop, which is why Season 11 debuts on Fox on January 3. Last season’s finale ended with a cliffhanger, with David Duchovny’s Mulder near death from an alien virus. That’s right: again. You are officially on notice, X-Files. Let’s see if we can avoid the word “again” going forward, shall we? I earnestly request, Mr. Carter: Don’t fight the future — try to help make it. -Tristan Lejeune
Worst Cooks in America returns to Food Network January 7
The early episodes of the Worst Cooks in America is some of the most entertaining reality/competition TV out there, it’s just a bunch of goofballs from around the country trying and failing to cook stuff. As the season goes on the truly, offensively bad cooks get filtered out and what’s left is a competition between a handful of mediocre but eager folks doing an okay job at making eggs benedict or whatever. So uh, tune in to the first handful and then check out whenever it starts to get boring! -Matt Byrne
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres on FX January 17
I am beyond stoked for The Assassination of Gianni Versace, partially because American Crime Story is amazing, but also because I am a sucker for anything (especially in the vein of true crime) related to fashion drama. (And gay fashion drama at that.) The trailers have been incredible, and I am only mildly ashamed to admit I have purchased a Sling TV subscription (thinly veiled as a Christmas gift to my mother so she can simultaneously watch HGTV several states away) in order to soak up every single episode. Pass the popcorn, SHIT IS ABOUT TO GET REAL SERIOUS. -Megan Burns
Portlandia returns to IFC January 18
Portlandia is still on, and they still crank out some enjoyable, hyperspecific character sketches peppered with super hip cameos. Anyways they’re kicking off their final season this month, which you can tune into live or enjoy in bite sized pieces on YouTube during your lunch break! -Matt Byrne
Planet Earth: Blue Planet II premiers on BBC America January 20
Planet Earth II was a smash hit last year, and coming in hot right behind is another sequel to another acclaimed BBC nature doc, Blue Planet. More deep sea adventures and unbelievable footage awaits you. I’m seriously considering buying a new TV to watch this thing in all its HD glory. -Matt Byrne
Baskets returns to FX January 23
Zach Galifianakis’ brilliant comedy/drama hybrid Baskets is a brutal, sporadically hilarious look at our attempts at living a creatively fulfilling life. More people gotta get on board with this thing, I really love it and think you will too, if only because of Louie Anderson’s tour-de-force performance as the matriarch of the Baskets family. -Matt Byrne
Due to a highly successful run in 2015, this festival celebrating female and female identifying playwrights’ work is back this year in D.C. Beginning this month and running through February, over 30 local area theatres will produce artistic works by women and present a variety of events and discussions focused on the benefit of gender parity in theatre. There are a ton of fantastic shows to attend, but here are a few stand outs this month:
A loose, modernized adaptation of the classic Congreve play, this play is a wild comedy of manners about Hampton’s 1 percenters. Award winning playwright Theresa Rebeck (popularly known for creating NBC’s dearly departed, Broadway skewering Smash) also directs this production which promises plenty of her signature biting humor.
Sarah DeLappe is THE new playwright to watch and her play about a group of 16 year old soccer players is sure to appeal to all ages and genders.
A battle between Margaret Thatcher and The Queen that killed with its surprising humor in the West End in London and is making its US premiere. -Diana Metzger
January is dark and cold. You know what two words you don’t associate with Gloria Estefan and her music? “Dark” and “cold.” So even though this musical, based on her life with her husband Emilio, might have some more serious moments, if it also has some great choreography and songs like “Conga” and “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”, it’s hard to see how it doesn’t brighten your month. -Trisha Brown
Even as inclusivity has become an ever-so-slightly larger part of cultural conversation in the US, our discussions still far too rarely address the lives and histories of the Native American people and nations across the country. Sovereignty, part of both the Women’s Voices Theater Festival and Arena Stage’s Power Plays series, is one exception. The play examines the historical and present-day realities of the Cherokee Nation through the only lens that does any story justice – a personal one. -Trisha Brown