It's a charity race with a back story like none other: bloodthirsty demons have been working in your community's offices, living in its homes, attending its schools. And now they're on the hunt and people are running for their lives. Citizens might be booking it across a field, seemingly far from the chaos, when shapes emerge on the horizon dressed head-to-toe in vampires' telltale black clothes. If you're a citizen, be prepared to run. If you're a vampire—lock in your target.
That's just part of what you might experience on the Vampire 5K, a twilight fun run where participants can register as "citizens" or "vampires" and take off from two separate starting lines. Both camps eventually converge in a chase that finds vamps trying to convert their mortal counterparts to the dark side. Citizens, dressed in white, sport two garlic flags; if the flags are taken before runners cross their finish line, they switch to a black tee and chase citizens. After the race, a moonlit party finds both camps sipping bloody marys during a dance party and award presentation. The race benefits the Mission to Hear Foundation, which provides hearing aids to underprivileged children, adults, and whatever they're calling the age group that comes in between these days.
At DC Fencers Club (DCFC), head coach Janusz Smolenski leads a team of athletes that molds young fencers into champions. Thanks to his formidable pedagogy, he has trained U.S. national champions. Working with Coach Smolenski, a trio of coaches brings unique backgrounds and styles to the classes. Robert Suchorski was a Polish National Junior Champion and has trained under top Polish and Russian fencing masters, and Ilya Lobanenkov to his credit owns multiple top-eight finishes in Veteran Women's U.S. Nationals, multiple "A" ratings, and a top-16 finish in a U.S. Junior Men's epee circuit event.
The DCFC facility, which has produced two full-scholarship Notre Dame fencers, boasts 10 full-size electric strips on a sprung-wood floor where fencers can lunge, parry, and riposte for hours on end without incurring injury.
The team at Pottery n More eschews cookie-cutter designs in favor of rampant creativity. They help guests select plaster items including tableware and holiday-, garden-, or pet-themed figurines to be covered with a choice of 15 different glitters and easy-to-use acrylic paints. The studio hosts parties for kids and adults, and programs such as summer camps, parents' nights out, and home makeovers for bottled genies. In the new game room, children bounce on inflatables or play board games while watching cartoons.
Pyramid Atlantic is a non-profit contemporary arts center that promotes artistic excellence in the fields of hand-papermaking, printmaking, digital media, and bookmaking. Among impressive facilities and tools are an antique letterpress, materials for hand-binding books, and the art gallery, which has a new solo show each month and is DC’s source for fine art prints and artistic activities. Members enjoy once-a-month, hands-on tutorials (such as screen-printing, bookmaking, and paper UFO folding), once-a-month tours of the new exhibits with the director of the Washington Printmaker’s Gallery (which curates Pyramid Atlantic’s exhibits), 10% off at the community arts store in Silver Spring, and 10% off live music and theater events.
At Princess Mhoon Dance Institute, everyone is welcome—whether you're an aspiring professional dancer or just looking to have a good time while learning dance moves beyond the Macarena. Adults break a sweat in Zumba, African dance fitness, and stretching and toning classes, while younger students master ballet positions, tap steps, and leaps and turns. All the while, Princess Mhoon and her staff craft a welcoming environment that balances serious study with light-hearted fun. It's not just the students who sing Princess Mhoon Cooper's praises—the instructor and choreographer has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Dance magazine honored her in a 2006 list of 25 to watch.
No matter how old you are or how much you know, you never stop learning—that's the philosophy behind the martial arts teaching at Kaizen Karate, where the instructors focus on "continuous improvement." Even the youngest students learn to develop self-discipline and self-motivation during karate classes, which they can start at the tender age of four. And whether they've taken a previous karate class or simply broken a board with their minds, adults can also benefit from the studio's classes, which are led by black-belt instructors under the supervision of a coach who's been training for 25 years.