Welcome to my life on the ballroom D - list

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Dew Drop Inn: Vinyl Record Swing Dancing

On May 7, the Dew Drop Inn hosted a vinyl 1950s record party, with DJ baby Alcatraz. Swing dancers were in attendance at the scenic location, the bar is situated by the old railroad tracks, in what used to be in some type of stationhouse.

I don't know a lot about the Dew Drop Inn, but it appears to be retro in style, in an old building that was repurposed. It was definitely a dive bar, with lots of throwbacks. The #DewDropInn  has an authentic 1950s rock 'n' roll jukebox, which has been refitted for CD playing. The music at the record party was phenomenal, I never heard of baby Alcatraz before. 
This dive bar, filled with a lot of hipster millennial's, was the last place I would expect to find 1950s music and swing dancing! Even though I felt older among this crowd, I had a fantastic time.

The Running of the Chihuahuas, fifth annual event at the wharf in DC.

Proud of my little man for his first ever Cinco de Mayo running of the Chihuahuas. The event raised money for doggie rescue organizations. If you would like to see videos from the event, you can visit Aggie's  Facebook page.

The event was held at the Southwest waterfront in DC. Admisison was free, and numerous dogs of all shapes and sizes were in attendance. This year, there were 96 chihuahuas entered in the races.

Aggie was too fat to run last year. He weighed 34 pounds when he was surrendered to a rescue organization. Since his adoption day, he's lost almost a third of his bodyweight. He still has quite a way to go, but this race was symbolic for his recovery from neglect.

Thank you Monica Alford, managing editor of on tap magazine, for a fabulous fifth annual running of the Chihuahuas! Congratulations to Agador Spartacus, who almost made it to the finish line! #CincoDC #OnTap #RunningOfTheChihuahuas

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May is historic preservation month #ThisPlaceMatters

The month of May is historic preservation month. The National Trust for Historic preservation is asking everyone to promote a place that is special to them. They're asking people to spread the word: #ThisPlaceMatters


The Strauss Ball 2016

To wrap up April, I attended the 33rd annual Strauss Ball at Glen Echo Park. This formal event is always fun, it is unique compared to the other dances held at the park.
I attended this dance with Erica, who I haven't seen since the Ohio star ball November. We have been both dancing much less this year, while recovering from different injuries. This event features historically accurate dance cards. Personally, I do not use dance cards, in addition I no longer  dance the Viennese waltz as a social dance. Despite my aversion to them, it was nice to see so many dancers enjoying the tradition. The carousel was open for the special occasion. It was nice being able to ride the carousel. Tickets cost only $1.25!
One thing I have never noticed before, are the music rolls for the military and pipe organ, I don't recall ever seeing this on display before.

The Max Weinberg Orchestra

After my recent visit to the Rainbow Room in New York City, I am disappointed to admit that I never got to see the Max Weinberg Orchestra play last summer. The band was featured on Max Mondays through out last summer. Max is well known for being featured on the late night show with Conan O'Brien. 

DCLX 2016

In April I attended DCLX. It was the 15th anniversary, and it was celebrated with 15 bands.
It was nice to catch up with fellow Lindy hop dancers, some that I haven't seen in several years.
The main event at Glen Echo Park, it was held in the Spanish ballroom. It was nice to see Sarah Brown, who I haven't danced with since the Maryland Dancesport championships in 2009. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bar Sixty Five, the Rainbow Room

Recently I visited Bar Sixty Five, located adjacent to the Rainbow Room, in NYC. It's been a goal of mine, to visit the Rainbow Room, for many years. The room was closed on the night that we visited, but the bar is open next-door. The view from bar Bar Sixty Five is incredible. The host was kind enough to offer a short tour of the rainbow room, even though it was closed,before seating for the dinner reservation. It was rather spectacular, seeing it, completely empty and all a glow. 

I am hoping to return soon, for dinner and dancing.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Stolen Magic 8 Ball 🎱

On Thursday night, a young couple, on a date, stole the house Magic 8 Ball. 🎱 Mr. Henry's is well known for having a Magic 8 Ball, and it's been stolen before. I chased a couple down the Pennsylvania Avenue, but they got away. Just before closing, they quietly returned it, leaving it by the sidewalk.  I wonder what prompted them to bring it back.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Doris Eaton, last of the Zeigfeld Girls, henrys Wall of fame pt 5


She lived to be 106, and her photo appears on the wall at Mr. Henry's Pub in DC. Doris Eaton Travis was an American dancer, stage and film actress, dance instructor, writer, and rancher, who was the last of the acclaimed Ziegfeld girls. After Broadway she spent over 3 decades with Arthur Murray.

Dear friends, Mr. Henry's Pub in Washington DC has a large collection of entertainment memorabilia. Many famous dancers appear  on Mr. Henry's wall of fame. Dancers are featured on the pub's wall along with stars of silent film and vaudeville. This week the pub made it to round 3 in :The Big Tap" ..a national tournament for historic bars. Please help this pub, with it's large collection of silent film memorabilia, claim the title of America's Favorite Historic Bar!!!  Simply go to 

www.SavingPlaces.org/BigTap and vote for Mr. Henry's ...this is an elimination tournament and you can vote once a day for them. (Once there go to the Discover tab, then click on Historic bars...Henry's is listed under specialty bars)............Thank you for your help!!!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Evelyn Nesbit on the Henry's Wall of Fame Pt. 4

Mr. Henry's made it around 3, as a nominee by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. I'm hoping my friends will help us by voting for the pub today. https://savingplaces.org

We have been sharing facts and tidbits about the historical characters who appear on the walls of Mr. Henry's. Most of the art is associated with a silent film era and vaudeville.

Here's an interesting one:

A lot of people ask us about the Woman with the Rose, one of the larger lithographs that hangs in the dining room. We believe that it is Evelyn Nesbitt, a photograph of Stanford white hangs above it.  Evelyn Nesbit was a popular American chorus girl and artists' model whose liaison with architect Stanford White immortalized her as "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing".

Nesbit claimed that as a stage performer, and while still a 14-year-old, she attracted the attention of the then 47-year-old architect and New York socialite Stanford White, who first gained the family's trust then sexually assaulted Evelyn while she was unconscious. Nesbit achieved world-wide notoriety when her jealous husband, multi-millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw, shot and murdered Stanford White on the rooftop theatre of Madison Square Garden on the evening of June 25, 1906, leading to what the press would call "The Trial of the Century"

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Margaret Gorman, 1st Miss America, Henrys Wall of Fame pt3

This week we were visited by Olivia Gorman, who posed by this photo of her great aunt, Margaret Gorman. 
Margaret Gorman (August 18, 1905 – October 1, 1995) is best known for being the first Miss America, from the year 1921. She was a resident of Washington DC.
Olivia's visit to Mr. Henry's came as the pub entered its first round of voting for America's favorite historic bar. The pub was nominated this week by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Margaret's photo is part of a large collection of entertainment memorabilia from the vaudilville and silent film era.  Henry's proudly displays her photo, along with other famous Washington DC stars, like Mary fuller and Rip Taylor.

Perhaps these little historical  treasures lead to the pub's nomination to The Big Tap" ..a national tournament for historic bars. 

Please help Henry's claim the title of America's Favorite Historic Bar!!!  Simply go to 

www.SavingPlaces.org/BigTap and vote for Mr. Henry's ...this is an elimination tournament and you can vote once a day for them. (Once there go to the Discover tab, then click on Historic bars...Henry's is listed under specialty bars)............Thank you for your help!!!

Vernon & Irene Castle on the Henry's wall of fame pt. 2

Dear friends, Mr. Henry's Pub in Washington DC has a large display of silent film memorabilia. Can you spot the famous ballroom dancers in this photo? Vernon and Irene Castle both appear in a photograph on Mr. Henry's wall of fame. The famous dancers are featured on the pub's wall along with over 20 other silent movie stars. This week the pub was selected to compete in :The Big Tap" ..a national tournament for historic bars. Please help this pub, with it's large collection of silent film memorabilia, claim the title of America's Favorite Historic Bar!!!  Simply go to 

www.SavingPlaces.org/BigTap and vote for Mr. Henry's ...this is an elimination tournament and you can vote once a day for them. (Once there go to the Discover tab, then click on Historic bars...Henry's is listed under specialty bars)............Thank you for your help!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Henry's Wall of Fame pt. 1

This year marks the  50th Anniversary year of Mr. Henry's. Under the new management of Mark Steele, the pub has undergone extensive restorations.

It was once mentioned in the newspaper, that Mr. Henry's had been maintained in a state of "arrested decay". Perhaps this was a polite way of saying that the old management never made an effort to fix anything, basically allowing the place to fall apart.

Under the new management of Mark Steele, the famous pub has received a loving restoration, with much attention paid to historic preservation.

As part of this restoration, we started an extensive community project to restore the artwork in the downstairs dining salon. The wall of artwork had for the most part, been untouched over the last 50 years, although some pieces had been lost or stolen over time.

The artwork at Mr. Henry's is often a subject of conversation among the pub's patrons. Did Henry have any plan in mind when the art was first displayed? Did Henry randomly aquire the art from rummage sales, or was their a specific collectors taste in mind? With Henry and most of the old-timers now gone, perhaps we'll never know.

There are a few things we do know, however, with a little digging. Most of the artwork on the wall relates to entertainment in the teens & 1920's, particularly the silent movie era, vaudeville, and burlesque.

Prior to the renovations getting started, Charles Epting paid a visit to the pub this summer. He was writing a book on Bebe Daniels, who also appears on Henry's wall of fame. Charles is the editor of Silent Film Quarterly, a publication dedicated to Silent Film. He helped us to kick start our restoration project, and his publication has also provided us with valuable info for acquiring new pieces for the Henry's collection.

For the last several months we have been attempting to identify all the pieces that appear on the wall. We've also been comparing the current display to older photos, in an attempt to identify what has been lost or stolen over time.

One lost item , is a photo of Julian Eltinge, on the back of the photo, was an authentic Sophie Tucker telegram. Henry's has fallen victim to a few thefts over the years, with photographs and lithographs occasionally disappearing at random. 

The task of identifying the artwork took place between August and January. Finally, everything was removed from the wall during the big overhaul in January. While the restaurnt's main dining room was closed in January, the picture backs on the most damaged pieces were completely replaced. 

There were a handful of items that were considered beyond repair, but for the most part, all of the original artwork was preserved.

This blog is an intro for a series of entries about the Henry's Wall of Fame. As always, I apologize for the numerous typos. I usually blog on short breaks, between work and practice, by typing on the iPhone. Stay tuned for more about the wall. 

- Mike

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Theater and The Hotel Harrington

This weekend I went to see all the Oscar-nominated animated shorts, followed by drinks at the Hotel Harrington. The hotel is one of the longest continually operating hotels in DC, still owned by the original family that founded it.
A display case in the hotel lobby provides a glimpse into the building's past.
This photo of Harrington Mills the appears in the display case. There are also several items from the hotel's former Pink Elephant Lounge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Circle, demolished Art Deco restaurant

2017 UPDATE, scroll to the bottom:

Lily Matini just shared the news with me today, about the loss of the iconic restaurant in Portsmouth Virginia. I have many fond memories of dining at the circle, the historic Art Deco piano bar in Portsmouth Virginia. 

I had many opportunities to visit the circle while stationed The USS Theodore Roosevelt, when it was in the Portsmouth shipyard for maintenance. The circle was only a short drive from the shipyards and a fun place to visit for dinner.

Restaurant was well known for its iconic mural of Hollywood stars above the bar. In the center of the circle sat a baby grand piano on a rotating platform. Each night at the circle, diners would  be entertained with live piano music. The music was elegant but the food was simple, the menu consisted of fried chicken, seafood and soul food. Another wonderful thing about the circle, was the eclectic mix of clientele. Some patrons were dressed in their best, with suits, ties, dresses and pearls. This was in contrast to others who would show up in sweatpants and jeans, to cruise the buffet line.

It's hard to believe that the circle was demolished without much press, many of us are just finding out now. How sad to see such a fine example of Art Deco architecture, destroyed to make way for development.  I wonder if they were able to save the Al Hirschfeld style mural of Hollywood stars..

UPDATE 2017:
The sign has been saved and the mural was recreated. They are now on High Street in Portsmouth, on display.

Hail Ceasar!

I made it out to the movies yesterday, to see Hail Caesar! What a wonderful movie.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mary Fuller on the wall of Silent Stars

This photograph of Mary Fuller appears on the wall of silent movie stars at Mr. Henry's. Mary was born a DC native, and reached a popularity which rivaled Mary Pickford. Reading about her life is always entertaining. Her Hollywood story ends abruptly, and with tragedy. She spent her remaining years at Saint Elizabeth's hospital and is buried at Congressional Cemetery.