M St. is the main street that runs through Georgetown, a historic, beautiful, and upscale area of the district. Georgetown is the home, of course, to Georgetown University as well as a slew of stores I will never be able to afford to shop in. A typical night in Georgetown is a menagerie of entitled college students wearing salmon-colored polos and paying way more for drinks than I ever could have afforded to in school. Anyone remember 25 cent mug nights? Yeah, I’m old.
Halloween brought a different crowd. Ever since I moved to the district, I have been hearing stories of the chaos that happens at Nightmare on M St., the bar crawl that happens every year the weekend before Halloween. Much as I was curious to see this, I passed out early Saturday night after a particularly silly kegs’n’eggs costume party (captain of the local water polo team dancing on the coffee table with roommie dressed as Nicki Minaj in tow). Since Halloween was on a Monday this year, I figured I missed most of the action, and when friends invited me to tag along, I figured M St. would be low key. I was wrong.
There was something sinister in Georgetown that night (cue poorly tuned violins in a minor key). As I walked past rowdy teenagers bumping into shoppers and the state police stationed at every corner, I quickly realized this was not the usual Georgetown college crowd. The man in front of me, dressed in perfectly fit Diesel jeans and high-end shoes, was accidentally bumped by a chubby African American teen in a way too tight dress. His response was to elbow her, to which she responded with a shove to the side. Having to get the last word in, he kicked her in the shin and kept walking. It’s a testament to her balance that she didn’t go down but instead kept walking as if nothing had happened; they both did. I looked around to see if anyone else had witnessed this bizarre interaction, but apparently no one had or at least no one cared. This to me was a living example of D.C.’s clash between its resident African American population and the wealthy white imports who constantly plow right over them. We’ve had ongoing problems with zoning and gentrification, but that’s another story.
The closer I got to Third Edition the more the crowd increased. I passed a group of creepy clowns taking pictures with passersby, a mime performing for handouts, and lots and lots of creepy masks. It was kind of like a scarier, albeit toned down, version of Mardi Gras. When I made it to the bar, I was surprised at how slow it was inside. Clearly the crowd outside was not old enough to drink, and that wasn’t why they were there. The unsettled huddles of African American teens populating the streets were so different from the usual white-bread Georgetown college crowd that I couldn’t help but spend half of my night staring out the window of the bar. It truly disturbed me to realize how comfortable I am living in a primarily black neighborhood, but how uncomfortable it was to have a primarily black crowd in a white neighborhood. So wrong on so many levels.
After an hour or so of dancing to “Thriller” and such, I got tired (again, I’m old, it was a Monday), so I left the bar. As I walked toward my car, I noticed that the crowd had started to thin out, and the small groups that remained seemed anxious and clumped together in hushed conversation. Just as I saw the flashing police car up ahead, a man walking past me mumbled, ” I can’t believe it, that’s so sad.” Now I knew something was up, so I stopped the next group passing to ask what had happened. “Someone’s been shot on the street.” What what? A shooting in Georgetown?
As my car was parked at the end of the street, I had no choice but to continue on. About a block from my car I hit the police tape. The shooting was right on M St., and I could see my little Civic just to the other side of the crime scene. I had to detour a few blocks and circle back to get my car; as it turns out, I had missed the shooting by about 15 minutes. A few minutes less of “Werewolf Thunder” at the bar and I would have been smack in the middle of it. According to reports, that incident ignited something that culminated in four shootings, all in relatively “safe” neighborhoods in the city. I think I’ve had my share of the D.C. Halloween shenanigans. Next year I’m sticking with house parties.