Photo credit: Mandy Holcomb.
Washingtonians flocked to the up-and-coming H St. NE and headed to M Central to kick off inauguration at the venue’s very first Millennial Ball, a fitting name given the heavily 20-somethings in attendance at the creative black-tie Saturday evening affair.
It was an alternative space for an alternative crowd. Hesitantly pulled from my cozy NW WDC stomping grounds, we headed to M Central, which promised to be a “special pop-up venue featuring original, civically-inspired art installations curated by No Kings Collective.”
The evening featured performances by Oddisee, the Funk Ark, and Brass Connection, as well as a special DJ set by Mayer Hawthorne. The two-story venue featured an open bar and eats by Taylor Gourmet on the upper level, which was brightly lit to display curated pieces of art, and saved the musical acts for the downstairs portion.
For a first-time party, it was a great effort. There were just a few problems, however. For starters, the bar. Let’s talk about it. There were about 200 people and three bartenders. Suffice it to say that waiting 65 minutes for a watered down vodka soda is not how I imagined spending the majority of my evening. Fortunately, some wait staff had the brilliant idea to cart around bottles of beer in Red Bull ice chests, which, though low-budget, did ameliorate the angry throngs of thirsty drinkers.
And then, there was the bathroom. I couldn’t help but feel like I’d walked into a filming of Saw: Millennial Edition. Rusty nails and possibly blood-stained sheets were all that separated my lady parts from the guy in the urinal about two feet away. Not to worry, however, because obtaining a cocktail was so difficult that pretty much no one had to use the restroom more than once.
Lastly, the event staff was a little rough around the edges. The coat check man asked for tips. Several times. Nothing discourages a group of sober women from tipping more than an in-your-face overbearing man shoving a sawed-off water jug in your face, narrowly avoiding scraping your face with its jagged edges. Just another subtle reminder that a Tarantino movie is being filmed in the bathroom downstairs.
Further, the lack of trash receptacles made for a very confusing situation when the food was unveiled. What did we do with our plates when we finished eating? I’ll tell you one thing NOT to do: put it on an unassuming table that is apparently “art” that happens to be positioned very convincingly as a cocktail table in the middle of the room with absolutely no context. To do so will result in a ferocious member of the event staff yelling at you for disrespecting art, when all you really wanted to do was be respectful and avoid throwing trash directly on the ground.
We look forward to more at M Central once these kinks are worked out. It was a first-time event at a great space that is attempting to revive a typically lower-income area of the city. A valiant effort, and by the end of the night when the crowds had died down, we really did have a great time exploring the huge pop-up space. Stay tuned for more from this new venue, and hopefully they’ve done a lessons-learned sesh to make for a smoother evening next time.