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In a city like Washington, DC, you can lose yourself in your work. But when the workday ends, the search for that special something begins.

For professionals of color, that special something is a place to gather that’s heavy on culture with a splash of community. A place to let your hair down and be one’s entire self. The nightlife scene, with its high cost and long lines, can lose its luster. And with a lack of diversity in offices around the country, the after-work happy hour is unlikely to fill the void.

That’s my reasoning behind the popularity of events like Grilled Cheese Social (GCS), Dine Diaspora, and Our Family Dinner.

The innovative events fill a unique need in the lives of upwardly mobile, culture-seeking black millennials– and continue to see exponential growth.

Here’s a breakdown of the why and where young professionals gather.

Grilled Cheese Social

Jerome Baker III is the founder of Rock Creek Social Club— the group behind the Grilled Cheese Social event hosted at Marvin’s restaurant in DC’s popular U Street Corridor.

Every Saturday, hoards of young professionals flock to Marvin for booze and grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with premium ingredients like provolone and apple chutney.

Girlfriends meet up at GCS

One event can see upwards of 1,800 RSVPs and an average of 1,000 attendees stream through their doors between 2 and 9 pm. During that time, thousands of drinks are sold and hundreds of grilled cheese sandwiches are ordered.

“Grilled Cheese Social was created because something fun was missing from summertime parties,” Baker.

“It’s also helped to have the event at a great location like Marvin. Those who attend are DC locals, transplants, people who are in town for the weekend, people who are huge fans of Marvin and just everyone looking for a good time.”

“DC has such a unique weekend culture. It includes so many brunch and day parties that there is something for EVERYONE on a Saturday afternoon. We’re able to attract people who enjoy music, good food, dancing and low-key experience.”

Our Family Dinner

Launched in June 2008 with the mission of connecting the world over dinner, Our Family Dinner has grown from a group of 30 people meeting in NYC to an international membership organization.

Today, young professionals from Accra, Ghana to Baltimore, MD gather over family-style dinners.

Their mission? To build community. For an individual membership of roughly $45 and couples membership of $75, the group hosts citywide and neighborhood-based dinners amongst multicultural, mostly affluent millennial professionals.

Dine Diaspora

Dine Diaspora‘s Signature Dinner series is an invite-only networking dinner where African diaspora leaders connect over a meal prepared by an African diaspora chef.

Created by Maame Boakye, Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena, and Nina Oduro the events cater to professionals looking to connect to their heritage through food.

“The connections made have extended beyond the table and have resulted in friendships, business partnerships, and collaborations,” says Boakye. “Guests always leave saying it’s a priceless experience. It’s an opportunity to meaningfully connect with their peers while celebrating culinary creativity.”

Check out Dine Diaspora on Instagram and request an invitation to their next signature dinner.

Photography courtesy of Tiffany Lekuku and Rock Creek Social Club