Dancing on H Street

The queen of H Street rode a handcrafted chariot down the packed corridor to her final resting stop – the beer garden at Rock & Roll Hotel.

A fashion show, reggae music, rock opera, food trucks and embellished cars shared the road for the H Street Festival this weekend, the neighborhood celebration attracted thousands of residents and curious visitors.

Damarcko “Retro” Price, the artistic director for EnKore Dance Company, put on an elaborate show with his unique blend of skilled dancers performing to rapid lyrics and the booming bass of songs by Nicki Minaj and Kanye West.

There was also a ready-to-wear fashion show, where any audience member could purchase the clothing right off the models’ bodies.

Street vendors offered unique, often handmade designs, including intricate jewelry, artwork, boots and vintage clothing. Art galleries also used the opportunity to showcase their work, displaying pieces made from all mediums, from time travel- and astrological-themed paintings to silkscreened, neon designs.

Chanan Delivuk, artist, H Street resident and alumna, said the festival allows the neighborhood to showcase its creative talent.

“Everything comes together to celebrate H Street as a neighborhood. Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights have their days, but today is H Street Festival. This allows the opportunity for all of us to display our work, whatever field it may be related to or containing,” Delivuk said.

The festival has been an annual staple, first started to revitalize the neighborhood after race riots in 1968. H Street merchants’ groups have been organizing it ever since.

An H Street Festival veteran, senior James Friedman noted how much the festival had grown since last year.

“It’s one of the last areas that’s going through a renaissance, but still hanging on to its real D.C. culture that is being erased by gentrification,” Friedman said.

H Street festival uses this opportunity to encourage partnerships with local neighborhood vendors, such as Rock & Roll Hotel, a local music venue, and The Argonaut, the self described “grandfather” of hip H Street eateries. Both held special events for the festivities, with musical acts and outdoor beer tents.

Others without tangible structures for their businesses to call home sold items on the street. One local entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “gypsy mermaid” offered readings for $20.

Lucky Dub, a band comprised of alumni and current students, played at the event’s main stage, drawing a diverse crowd who listened to their reggae-infused music including songs from their new album, “I Rise” and “No Money, No Worries.”

Lacking its own metro stop, H Street is undergoing construction to install a trolley system that will bring a streetcar between the Chinatown metro and Minnesota Ave Metro.

Slated to by completed by 2012, the streetcar could bring in even more people to next years festival.

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