Walking into the National Geographic Museum’s courtyard on a Friday night, partygoers found themselves surrounded by nerd-vana.
The event was thrown by Brightest Young Things (BYT) in celebration of Nat Geo’s new “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander The Great” exhibit, which everyone was able to check out during the event. Artifacts, gold and pottery were enjoyed by flip cup players and scientist alike inside the gallery. Stirring video of natural areas in Greece with fire burning, rain falling and lightning striking looped continuously on the walls of the exhibit. In one display, phones were available for people to listen to philosophers like Aristotle, Plato and Demosthenes speak their wise words into listeners’ ears.
Attendees were greeted by a colorful laser show lighting up the dark sky from behind the DJ booth. DJ Ecotone, also known as Ben Mirin, a wildlife DJ, sound artist and National Geographic explorer, took the booth to play his original music created on travels using true recordings in nature. He talked about each song after beatboxing and allowing the tracks to play out, letting everyone know that the erratic but graceful tones were authentic Borneo jungle noises.
“We’ve been getting hotter and hotter and and my response is, ‘Oh yeah? I can get hotter than you, D.C,’” he told dancers. Later, at his portion of the “lightning talks” by Nat Geo explorers, he mentioned the importance of keeping the audio rolling, as he almost missed a chance to record the sooty grouse, a rarely heard western American bird.
An entire lineup of food trucks, including DC Ballers and PEPE, José Andrés’s truck, provided meals and snacks while various pop-up bars served drinks. The District’s party people enjoyed showing off their chitons, the traditional Ancient Greek garb, and laurel crowns. Some wore their own homemade crowns, sometimes featuring bananas and kale, while others opted to make theirs at PandaHead’s goddess crown workshop next to the masseuse and a caricature artist.
Inside the ballroom, people played “Map Twister” and “Socrates Says,” fought friends with inflatable dumbbells in a bounce field and listened to more mixed tunes.
Others listened to talks in the auditorium. Explorer Clare Fieseler talked about her failed marine and cultural project to circumnavigate an island in Panama, making the point that the best things in science come from failures. She told the audience to look for “pineapple moments,” taking a break to enjoy fresh pineapple at the worst of times, and to write up a “CV of Failures.”
David Gruber discussed about his accomplished dream of journeying in a yellow submarine into the depths of the ocean to study bioluminescent organisms. Ecologist Kevin McLean, a local, talked about his work documenting animals in the top portion of the canopy in forests. And, not to be forgotten, the queen team made up of Jezzibelle Jaxknife, Pu$$y Noir and Summer Camp, danced in a performance about Greece/Grease in between lightning talks.
Unfortunately, headliner Dan Deacon’s DJ set was delayed because of a MARC train collision. But, the crew decided to take a taxi to the event and arrived around midnight to close it all out.
(All Photos: Kayla Williams)