Storytelling on a Makeshift Stage

Occasionally (let’s face it, every week) I get Facebook event invites from people whom I don’t actually really know, and also occasionally (read: all the time) I show up at these events. Sometimes they turn out to be solidly good; sometimes excellent; and, if I’m lucky, sometimes truly awesome.

Well last night fell into truly awesome.

I have recently become a huge fan of storytelling events, so when I received the Facebook event invite to a themed storytelling event on 14th Street, I RSVPd without reading too many of the details. I wasn’t familiar with the venue – some place called Room & Board -, but I just figured it was one of the bars I had yet to explore.

Nope. It was that Room & Board — the furniture store. I walked in a little confused and was directed to the fourth floor. It was an enormous corner building, and each floor had an open layout with groups of couches, chairs, lamps, and coffee tables. Seeing no one on the first or second floors, I was growing suspicious of this supposed venue when I reached the third floor and began to hear lively chatter. And indeed, when I emerged onto the fourth floor, I realized I had stumbled upon a secret cocktail party.

This wasn’t storytelling!

Or maybe it was … but with free food and wine!

And a roof deck!


Well this was awesome. The event was benefiting the organization SOME (So Others Might Eat), so it did make sense that there would be food … sort of … I mean in the strictly comparative sense of food being the general overall theme (and in the sense that every benefit and every DC cocktail party is always more lavish than the cause it supports).

Anyway, irony aside, it was a bubbling party. I got my little plate of serrano ham-wrapped apricots and cheese and sat down on one of the convenient sofas (which, to Room & Board’s credit, were not wrapped in plastic (what faith they had in the etiquette and grace of DC wine drinkers!)). Free food, skyline views, and comfy seating … what more could you ask for?

Long story short (no pun intended), it was an incredible night. Seven storytellers told stories around the theme “need,” entertaining us throughout the night (and moving us from one furniture display to the next – a very clever way for Room & Board to show off its furniture (and fine by me because each chair or couch seemed more comfortable than the last)).

I never would have thought to host a storytelling event (or even a benefit) at a furniture store, but after last night, I have to say: That “new bar” I hadn’t heard of on 14th Street, Room & Board … it’ll go down in the books as one of my favorites. If the 14th Street Room & Board has an event listserv, please, somebody add me to it. And speaking of stories, now I have one of my own!


Crooning in the Night

Friday I was supposed to go to the Story League event Story League Sings. If you don’t know what Story League is, you should, because it’s awesome, but I’ll pardon you and explain briefly that it runs workshops and contests for oral storytelling. Think This American Life plus The Moth. Amazing.

I didn’t go, because my friend with whom I was supposed to go wanted to eat Polish potato dumplings and watch Frozen. I hadn’t seen Frozen and I’m certainly not one to turn down potato dumplings, so down the street I went and up into one of DC’s less loved apartment buildings, the ancient manual door elevator serving as a case in itself for some evidently long-needed TLC. But, no matter, because when I arrived on the 6th floor I opened the creaky elevator gate to the silky voice of Ella Fitzgerald, who happens, strictly coincidentally, to be my very favorite singer.

It was coming from down the hall, and I followed it of course. And lo and behold, it was coming from the apartment that was my evening destination (I knew this was going to be a good alternative!)! The drab, beige walls and the glorious voice of Ella.

Into the apartment I went! And what a night it was. Frozen, potato dumplings, red wine, a homemade quiche …

And when all had had their fill we lay back on the bed and turned up the volume, filling the room with Sinatra and Ella and Peggy Lee.

This is the best part about living in the city. In the summer when it’s hot and you’re up late and you don’t want to bother with the air conditioning, you can hear all the neighbors from the open windows. You can sit on your bed and lay back and sing at the top of your lungs and your friends are all there around you, talking low with their heads together or crooning with their eyes closed, dangling glasses of wine.

I love apartment living. Everyone else can have their nights on the town. I’ll be up on the sixth floor, sprawled by the window, Ella and me singing into the night.