Halloween Heels

Running a Two-Block Race in Three-Inch Stilettos

Every year, large crowds build at 17th Street in Dupont Circle in anticipation for D.C.’s Annual High Heel Race on the eve of Halloween.

Largely popular in the gay and lesbian Community, this event began more than a decade ago with a group of drag queens who thought it would be a fun idea. Now, the event has grown so much that sidewalk spectators stand reportedly 10 deep.

Around 6 o’clock on the Tuesday evening before Halloween, the streets will start to fill with race participants. Some people arrive expecting to lead the 9 p.m. race, while others will be there only for a good time.

Dressed in high heels, wigs, fancy jewels and shimmering ball gowns, the participants take their places at 17th and P Street, and prepare for the two-block race. The winner receives a cash prize.

The event is sponsored by a number of local bars and restaurants along with Delta Lambda Phi. Delta Lambda Phi is a national social fraternity founded in 1987 in Washington “for gay, bisexual and progressive men.”

Another sponsor of the event is JR’s Bar and Grill. “The build up is packed with people,” says PJ Magnette, a day-time manager at JR’s. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Magnette, who does not run in the race, says that the event is going into its second decade and seems to be growing in size and popularity. He explains that the even though the race itself doesn’t begin until 9 p.m., onlookers and contestants create the fun and exciting atmosphere three hours in advance.

Two years ago, when rainy weather fell on the night of the race, the crowd turnout dropped quite a bit. One racer told the George Washington Hatchet, “only sexy queens race in the rain.”

This year, weather permitting, the local sponsors are expecting an even bigger crowd with more outrageous and flamboyant costumes.