Deaf Culture: D.C. Saturdays

Deaf Culture: D.C. Saturdays

The weekend before last, my partner and I traveled to Washington D.C. for a day full of Deaf community events and meeting up with close Deaf friends from my childhood.

image description: a blue square with an outlined white flower centered and the words yoga noma below.

When we arrived in D.C. we rushed down the street from Union Station to meet our friend at the entrance to the building where Yoga Noma is housed. We entered right behind him, and he showed us how to get to the actual studio. My partner doesn’t do yoga, so he said his hellos and adjourned across the street to a coffee shop to do some work. This friend and I brought out our mats, and settled in right before the teacher took her spot in front of the class to begin teaching a hatha yoga sequence.

Now that I think about it, I wish that every hearing yoga teacher had the opportunity to take a class fully in ASL from a Deaf yoga teacher. It’s a valuable practice, being open to understanding how very different the practice is for a bunch of Deaf people with a Deaf teacher. It also would help with some of the severe lack of diversity in our yoga studios. I don’t think that hearing people should be teaching Deaf classes though – and this is a tangent for another time.

Anyway, the class was perfect – since I don’t generally practice Hatha yoga – it was just the right amount of clear and understandable with a Deaf teacher speaking ASL and just the right amount of challenging for someone who comes from the Power Vinyasa school of teaching. I felt just challenged enough and just sore enough on Sunday that I didn’t work out again!

After yoga we went to lunch with our friend! It was really wonderful to just sit and converse about everything under the sun (as we always do), in ASL, and feel perfectly connected and understood.

Image description: two men sit at a wooden table and sign with each other – one has shoulder length blond-red hair and beard and the other one has very short blonde hair and a shadow of a beard.

I want to talk more about relationships and connecting another time, but this weekend was a refresher we both needed as we haven’t made very many local Deaf friends and especially not couple friends.

Our friend had to go study – and my partner had work to do – so we split up. We were planning to go see Avengers – Endgame with the D.C. Deaf Moviegoers Group that evening, so we were staying longer.

While my partner worked, I walked around D.C. I headed for Gallaudet University and the epicenter of the Deaf community. I saw families out walking, a whole crew of students sitting out and cheering on the baseball team, I walked by Union Market and many little corner shops. And when I had walked enough, I turned around and headed back to where my partner was working.

Finally, it was time to pack up and go see Avengers – Endgame. I’m not here to talk about the movie at all – only about the community that D.C. has built with the Deaf Moviegoers group. We were all waiting in line well before the movie was scheduled to begin, so we spent time talking, mostly about the MCU and other movies we had seen. But the nice thing about this group is that we already have two important things in common.

We filed in, and this theatre had assigned seating, which was sort of unfortunate for us because we got seats very LAST and had to sit almost underneath the screen!

image description: my partner sitting in a movie theatre, his chair reclined all the way back.

image description: our view of the movie screen, and on the screen is an ad or preview before the movie.

When the actual movie started, there still weren’t captions on the screen. All around me, hands started flying. This was supposed to be a Deaf social event, wasn’t it? My partner – being the assertive person he is – got up and immediately went to someone in management to complain. Thankfully, since the theatre had so many Deaf attendees, they shut off the screen and re-started the movie with captions on. The thing I noticed, though, being highly aware of my surroundings as I am, was that a whole row of people got up and left when the captions came on.

With the open captions up on the screen, the movie was so much more enjoyable for us. Because the captions were up there for everyone to see, there was no dropping signals or missed dialogue. It was 100% correct from what I could tell and it helped me enjoy the movie out with a bunch of my friends like everyone else in the world gets to do.

What was your favorite recent movie pick? Or if you haven’t seen anything recently, what is your favorite movie ever? I look forward to your answers in the comments!

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