Music and movies heat up the D.C. summer

All year, students schedule their lives around classes, exams, activities and a social life. When summer comes around, all that disappears; classes stop and friends disperse. Palm Pilots empty of computerized schedules and time seems to stretch out like the grassy National Mall in the summertime sun.

To some ever-busy GW students, the city seems like it has become a void of boredom. However, D.C. offers students staying over the summer, or popping in to visit friends with internships, a few different ways to keep themselves busy with movies and music.

The warm summer weather brings people and events outdoors to enjoy it. Every Saturday from June 1-Aug. 17, District residents and visitors can enjoy free concerts sponsored by Coca-Cola and DC101, among others, and put together by Downtown Presents and Atlanta-based Mad Booking.

On the corner of G and 8th streets, the D.C. Sessions are a block away from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop on the Green, Yellow and Red lines. They take place in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Cake, Better than Ezra, Sister Hazel and Cracker are just a few of the bands that are headlining this year. Gates open at 4 p.m. for the show to start an hour later, and end at 10 p.m. As at most concerts, cameras, food, coolers and backpacks are prohibited. Neighborhood restaurants provide food and drinks for hungry and thirsty concertgoers.

Josh Antenucci, a partner in Downtown Presents, said in the concerts’ first week, the sessions have already been a success. A crowd of 11,000 people came to the first session on June 1. Antenucci hopes they continue as an annual summer activity.

“We wanted to bring business and life back to downtown,” he said.
For the movie buffs, D.C. offers several outdoor movie festivals, the closest being by the Washington Monument. National Park Service employee Lance Hatten said Screen on the Green has been going on for two years. Free and open to the public, Hatten said the expected turn-out is about 100 people a night.

“We get a full range of visitors, some international guests, (and) many people just happen upon it,” he said.

Visitors are welcome to bring picnics while watching the movies, which are held at dusk (between 8:30-9 p.m.) every Monday from July 15-Aug. 12.

A little further out of the District, in Rockville, Md. is another free movie festival from Aug. 16-25. The Comcast Outdoor Film Festival is held across the street from the Grosvenor/Strathmore Metro stop on the Red Line, at the Strathmore Hall Arts Center. The festival is presented by radio station Oldies 100 and benefits the charities of the National Institutes of Health.

Community restaurants provide food starting 7 p.m. and the movies start at 8:15. Showings this summer will include “Shrek,” “The Godfather II” and “Grease.”

For those with a car, Baltimore offers a different sort of movie theater. Bengies Drive-In Theatre has been around since 1956. The theater has the biggest screen on the East coast, and now car radios tune into the movies’ sound through FM and AM stations instead of through speakers.

Movies showing include “Big Fat Liar,” “Changing Lanes” and “The Sum of All Fears.” Show times depend on the sunset, which varies from week to week. The Web site, www.bengies.com, offers information on show times. Ticket prices range from $5-$7. The theater is located at 3417 Eastern Blvd.

-Adina Matusow contributed to this report.

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