National Book Festival
The National Book Festival returns Sept. 3; courtesy of Library of Congress

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This week’s headlines prove: Summer ain’t over till the block party ends and the National Book Festival packs up.

Those Who Dis Will Then Be Dismissed: DJ Spinderella is just one of the big names performing at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s first ever Hip-Hop Block Party on Aug. 13. Spinderella, the DJ, rapper, and producer most famous for her work with Salt-N-Pepa, will conclude the daylong festivities with a personally mixed dance party that’ll end at 11 p.m. The block party celebrates the one year anniversary of the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, a nine-CD and 300-page anthology spanning hip-hop’s evolution with 129 tracks and 11 essays penned by music scholars, authors, and journalists. Spanning 12 hours, the block party will host both daytime and nighttime events, including main stage performances (located outside the museum on Madison Drive NW) by Alphabet Rockers, Mumu Fresh, and a local showcase curated by DJ Heat. Radio personality Vic Jagger will MC the daytime shows. Inside the museum, Culture Shock DC will host dance workshops alongside book talks and panel discussions. Evening events will focus on outside performances, including sets from The Halluci Nation and Grammy-nominated rapper D Smoke before Spinderella takes the reins. Entry is free, but registration is required.  

“The origins of hip-hop and rap rest in community where people gathered together in basements, on street corners, neighborhood dance parties, and community shows to tell the stories of the people and places that brought it to life in a language all its own,” Dwandalyn Reece, associate director for curatorial affairs at NMAAHC, says in the press release. “Like a true block party, we invite all ages to come together to enjoy activities and performances in honor of the museum’s greatest homage to the music and culture of hip-hop.” Tickets will be available online starting this Friday, July 22.

Jeanette Berry, courtesy of Jamie Sandel/CapitalBop

Making Money Moves: For more than a decade CapitalBop has been promoting, presenting, and preserving D.C.’s jazz scene and jazz music in the District via concerts, festivals, partnerships, and reporting. Although the group is a staple in the scene working to build community around the city’s Black musical traditions, CapitalBop has never had an executive director—until now. On July 13, the nonprofit announced the hiring of Jeanette Berry, a musician, educator, and organizer. “These days, more often than not, if you want good news you’ve got to make it yourself. And that’s what we’ve been up to at CapitalBop: laying new plans, and helping new music come to life,” cofounders Luke Stewart and Giovanni Russonello wrote on the organization’s website, calling Berry’s hiring a major step. “After more than a decade in activity, we are humbled at the opportunity to expand our staff, and with it our capacity to serve the D.C. Music Community … Jeanette’s range of experience and her devotion to this music will be essential to taking the organization to the next step — and beyond.”

Berry, a New York native who arrived in D.C. during the pandemic, has toured the world, recording and performing jazz, R&B, and hip-hop with artists such as Lauryn Hill and The Roots. She’s done labor organizing with the Music Workers Alliance and taught at every level, from elementary to college. But today, Berry is the executive director of CapitalBop where she “look[s] to support and grow the mission and vision by expanding our artist roster, supporting the artists in town with resources and performance space, engaging more of our communities by building more musical and humanities programming that includes them, and giving artists and communities the power to continue creating the music and culture that have long provided the heartbeat of this city,” Berry writes in her introduction letter online. “I ask myself, in all the work that I do: How can we better serve our communities? This question propels me each day, and I look to lead CapitalBop in service of not only the organization, but the city that this organization serves: Washington, D.C.” 

It’s Been Three Years: At long last the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival will return for one very full day of programming on Sept. 3. So if you were thinking about skipping town for Labor Day weekend, think again, because this year’s lineup brings some big names to D.C., including the most beloved dirty computer Janelle Monáe, Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman, and deaf activist Nyle DiMarco. Under the theme Books Bring Us Together, more than 120 authors, poets, and writers will take part in the 11-hour festival held downtown at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. This year’s fest will feature storytelling, audiobook events, and a new Life/Style stage to focus on pop culture. Like always, the event is free and open to the public. 

Speaking of Writers… Local YA author and PR professional Sydney Walters is in the running to win MAXIM magazine’s 2022 Cover Girl Competition. If she takes the crown, The State of Grace author plans to donate a portion of her $25,000 cash prize to the Trevor Project, a nationwide organization that offers suicide prevention services for queer and trans youth, and Debra of America, which is working to find a cure for the skin disease Epidermolysis Bullosa. Walters plans to use some of the remaining funds to promote her novel series. It may be a fairly creative way of supporting local writers, but voting for Walters’ group ends this week. The winner will be decided by public vote on Aug. 18.

The Office Experience; Photo credit Kyle Flubacker

People Underestimate the Power of Nostalgia: The power of what was continues to draw Instagramming millennials—and TikToking Gen Zers (hello early aughts fashion return)—to ever-evolving “experiences.” Fans, some might call obsessives, flooded Superfly X’s Friends Experience near Metro Center earlier this year, reliving a decade of antics from Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey. Now Superfly X is back in D.C. with another dose of TV nostalgia. Opening July 28 at 1020 G St. NW, The Office Experience will let fans explore the world of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in a two-story, 17-area space filled with props and costumes taken from the show. Like Friends before it, visitors can expect set re-creations (designed for the ’gram) of Pam’s desk, Michael’s office, and Ryan’s closet. I’ll confess, I never watched the sitcom that ran for nine seasons from March 2005 to May 2013, but fans will likely be excited to hear that the experience will also re-create Kevin’s Chili Spill and Beach Day (whatever that means). And in case an endless amount of Instagram stories isn’t enough to remember Jim, Pam, Michael, Dwight, Kelly, and the rest of the crew, there’s an onsite retail store, replicating the Warehouse, which will sell exclusive products to ticketed and non-ticketed guests. (Creator of the U.S. series Greg Daniels was a consultant on the project.) Tickets are on sale now.