Kevin Bacon pops into D.C. beer garden to raise money for Ukraine relief

If you happened to be at Dacha Beer Garden in Navy Yard just as the

If you happened to be at Dacha Beer Garden in Navy Yard just as the Nats were beating the Mets on a bright, blustery Sunday afternoon, your degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon would have decreased to one. (It is a hard-and-fast rule of journalism that all ledes about Bacon reference the degrees of separation. We don’t make the rules; we just follow them.)

The 63-year-old actor was there with his brother, Michael, 72, and their aptly named band, the Bacon Brothers. They have played music as the Bacon Brothers since 1985, but not usually at beer gardens at 5 o’clock on a Sunday. They were there for a quick pop-up show to aid Dacha’s mission to raise money for Ukraine relief.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Dacha has steadily raised money for various foundations aiding the country — UNICEF, primarily — and plans to continue doing so until the war ends. The cause is particularly close to co-owners Dmitri Chekaldin and Ilya Alter, who both emigrated from Russia and would face discrimination there — Chekaldin is part of the LGBTQ community and Alter is Jewish.

“We might not be Ukrainian by blood, but we are Ukrainian by heart,” said Chekaldin. He was wearing one blue sock and one yellow sock in solidarity. “We have the same goal, to end autocracy and discrimination in Russia.”

As luck would have it, Stacy Huston — the executive director of Six Degrees, Bacon’s philanthropic organization, which is dedicated to “donating to or raising money for local and grass-roots charities in the United States” — frequents the bar and had an idea of how to beef up donations: Have the Bacon Brothers play a few songs.

From 2015: Kevin Bacon’s epic charity tour of Washington (and yeah, he played ‘Footloose’)

Bacon (Kevin Bacon, we mean, not the other Bacon. Assume from here on that “Bacon” pretty much always means Kevin. No offense to Michael, who is surely used to nearly a lifetime of being zero degrees from Kevin Bacon) announced the show via tweet just a few hours before they took the stage. By “stage,” we mean the ground at the front of the beer garden. The invite also encouraged anyone looking to contribute to text “DonateUKR” to 44-321. Dacha offers several donation options in person at the bar, too.

Around 4 o’clock, just as the Nats were staging an eighth-inning comeback in the neighboring stadium, the place was fairly quiet. But word got out, and a trickle of curious patrons became a stream, eventually turning into a flood when the stadium gates opened and unleashed all those happy Washingtonians and unhappy Mets fans. Both groups needed beer for different reasons.

Soon, the garden was overflowing, and that’s about when the Bacon Brothers marched on in and began playing some of their folk-rock tunes with a band, our main man handling the duties of vocals, guitar, tambourine, harmonica and some other instrument that you shake and rattle around.

As the band played, about half the crowd went wild, clamoring up to the cordoned-off “stage” for videos and selfies. The other half seemed confused at best. “Are they big around here?” asked one Mets fan. (Do they not have movies in New York?) One woman, a child clamoring over her, asked us, “What does Kevin do?” (How does one begin to answer that?)

More than one patron was clearly seeking nothing more than a cold beer, judging from the number of people who entered and yelled, “Is that Kevin Bacon?!”

The band played a few of their own tunes, including a crowd-pleaser, “36 Cents.” Toward the end of the short set, they launched into Bob Dylan’s protest song “I Shall Be Released.”

To cap off the show, Bacon announced, “We have to do it.” They kicked off their Sunday shoes and offered a rousing rendition of “Footloose.”

A little too rousing, perhaps, as one fan hopped on top of a table and began dancing, spilling some beer in the process. Anyone not distracted by the awkwardness danced and sang along — Please, Louise … and so on.

The tabletop dancer went in for a spontaneous hug from Kevin, which caused the Bacon Brothers to flee immediately after the show. Now you see them, now you don’t. But they spoke briefly to The Washington Post via Huston’s cellphone. Kevin said they want to “highlight the work that people do,” in this case, Dacha’s effort to send help to Ukraine.

“We feel all so helpless lately watching all this unfold,” Michael added.

But, at least for one brief moment on Sunday, the only feeling in the air was joy. And early Sunday evening, Chekaldin said the event raised more than $6,000.