Flowers + alcohol + face painting + dancing = Solstice Saturday, this year’s annual America Now event put on by three of the 11 Smithsonian museums.

Held on the longest Saturday of the year, the free par-tay rattled the bones of this staid but oh-so-fascinating institution, bringing revelry like it hasn’t seen since … oh … last year at this time. But last year’s America Now’s theme was the 100th anniversary of JFK’s birth, so, no hippie bacchanalia.

Too bad the Renwick closes at 5:30. Everyone could have gone over for last call and a look at their Burning Man exhibit. Then they could have joined together to sing “We Shall Overcome” a-la Joan Baez at Woodstock, smoked some weed and boarded the Metro, all before it closed at 1.

The party started at 5:30 at the Museum of American History where DJ Eau Claire spun some tunes and everyone waited in line for drinks and gawked at the Burton Batmobile, on loan from Warner Brothers for three years.

One of the stations allowed attendees to make Swedish-style flower crowns. Revelers bedecked in these natural adornments left trails of petals and leaves in their wake as flower garland3they made their way among the exhibits.

On the other side of the main hall, lines for face painting were short. This was because painters were creating art on each face paint2face; this were not your standard birthday party ladybugs, rainbows and flowers.

Colorful, sparkly swirls and curls — some glow in the dark! — festooned the faces of partygoers, kicking up  the celebratory atmosphere to a new level.

The party at the History Museum came to a close at 8:30, but exhibits were open until midnight for the occasion.

My companion and I were able to secure drinks and absorb reams of culture before running out of the snacks we smuggled in. As the party wound down, we headed over to the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum for round two.

Free pedicabs were available for this three-quarter mile trek, but we decided to hoof it despite the rain. The weather may have been the reason only one food truck was at the destination, but as it so happens, we like healthy food and indulged in some chicken rolls from Healthy Fool.

The rain soaked the cornhole games set up on the sidewalk, but no matter. Attendees just walked on past and headed inside for the next event.

Only the first floors of these two museums were open after hours, so the Obama portraits were off-limits, but Do Ho Suh’s Almost Home installation drew a crowd. Exhibits were available to view until 11:30 p.m., and when visitors had their fill, they could head out to the Kogod Courtyard, where they could enjoy, music, dancing and a beer garden.

This is partying, Washington D.C.-style — drinks, music and fun mixed with art, culture and learning.



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