Sponsored by the web site Brightest Young Things and Pink Line Project, an arts advocacy organization, Burst @ Artisphere was billed as the hipper, cheaper counterpart to Friday’s $250 per ticket opening gala. True to the billing, the evening attracted a hipster-heavy crowd that looked a bit out of place in stodgy, corporate Rosslyn. Organizers helped lure party-goers from their safe, comfortable DC environs with regular shuttle bus service from Dupont Circle and with the promise of free beer and wine (after the $20 cover).
Once inside, Artisphere’s two-floor Wi-Fi Cafe was filled to the brim with beautiful and/or interesting people, all conversing loudly. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Beringer flowed freely.
The artist Katie Laibstain (a.k.a. Katie Balloons) held court near the stairs on the second level, wearing an elaborate balloon costume that allowed her to occasionally pose as an inanimate object, only to pop up and scare unsuspecting hipsters. Ms. Balloons would later make her way to the ballroom, where a crowd energized by the beats of DJ Chris Burns proceeded to rip apart her costume, wearing Laibstain’s former balloon arms and balloon headgear as a primitive hunter might wear a slain animal’s pelt. The sounds of popping balloons were ever-present for the rest of the night, as parts of the costume were passed from person to person.
Aside from Lord of the Flies-esque balloon destruction, the ballroom was also the scene of at least one breakdancing competition, as well as numerous make-out sessions.
The Evening Star Cafe Olympic block party was, as promised, a fun and well-attended affair. Nearly 100 people crowded the tiny parking lot behind the Del Rey restaurant to drink good beer, eat oysters and traditional block party-style food, and — of course — to watch the USA/Canada gold medal hockey game.
The oysters, barbecue pork sandwich and homemade mac ‘n cheese were all delicious, as was the Brooklyn Brown Ale and other beer selections. Unfortunately, the chilly weather and the relatively tiny TVs made for a less-than-satisfactory viewing experience. About half the crowd had cleared out by the third period, although some merely walked a few steps to the Majestic Lounge, Evening Star’s back bar.
Inside the lounge, the roar following Team USA’s last-minute goal was deafening. Perhaps the only comparably loud moments during the game were the sporadic “f*** Sidney Crosby” chants. After Crosby scored Canada’s winning overtime goal, however, the formerly boisterous crowd seemed too deflated by the loss to get another chant started.
Perhaps they could have taken some revelry-in-the-face-of-dejection pointers from the Team USA fans at this Arlington bar.