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Navigating D.C.’s dance-party scene is tough work. January alone finds nine DJ nights scheduled at the Black Cat, 12 at the Rock and Roll Hotel, six at DC9, and 13 at Wonderland. With so many parties competing nightly to impress a lingering hand-stamp to your flesh, where should you sink your cover charge? Local DJs are here to help. They’ve peppered the Internet with detailed descriptions of their sound, but navigating their self-promotion poses its own problems.
Don’t know the difference between synthpunk and electroclash? Confused as to whether a dance night requires you to pull out a twee sweater and cozy up against the wall, or go bare-chested underneath an American flag windbreaker, pumping both fists to the jams? You’re not alone.
“The challenge of the write-up is that you’re trying to market it to enough people to get them in the door, but at the same time you want to attract the right crowd,” explains Gavin Holland, one-third of DC9’s monthly dance party Nouveau Riche, whose new flier describes the dance night simply as “Pretty Risky.” Holland has one suggestion for local spinners: “Even if you play techno, don’t say the word ‘techno.’ American people are really afraid of the word ‘techno.’”
Below, local dance night autobiographies excerpted—and translated for the uninitiated.
Where You’ll Find Him: Bliss at the Black Cat
The Spin: “BLISS likes Bass Ale, Daft Punk, and has an agenda. Its mission is to get you 1) in trouble 2) intoxicated 3) in love.” Bliss adds a scan of a hand-drawn note from an angry partygoer that reads, “Stop playing your own agenda—we pay to hear our requests.” Kelis’ “Milkshake” is the only such request that can be deciphered.
Translation: Thinly disguised musical blowjob tutorials are out, but the right combination of British beer and Parisian house music just might get you some similar drunk, troublesome bliss. And love, or whatever.
Where You’ll Find Him: Crap at the Black Cat, Felix, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Spin: “Indie kids, goths, punks, gays, lesbians, suburbanites, drunks, truckers, hipsters, muppetteers, and Prince disciples alike gather to dance to the music on that sticky mix tape you found in the bottom of your Delorean that has been taped over 77 times and missing since 1991. You will attend. You probably heard this music in a carpool or at your dentist.…I’m not going to lie, this is the best dance night of all-time and if you argue, you are clearly in a fucking coma.”
Translation: Prepare to be surrounded by people who work up pit stains as badges of honor. Expect sets ending in extended versions of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” sung along by dancers too drunk to remember if they’re supposed to be ironic or not. Duck to avoid errant hands attempting “The Sprinkler.”
Where You’ll Find Him: Lima, Fly, Ultra Bar
The Spin: “I’m not one for broadcasting intimate, personal info about myself on the Internet. I save that for my good friends, and family. I am, however, a big fan of Internet marketing, so let’s get this thing going.”
Translation: The ensuing 516 words of Enferno’s MySpace bio address 16 years of his history—including his high school (Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology), college (University of Virginia, B.S., Marketing, ’97), and former IT day job. Still, the précis fails to cover what you really need to know: You’re probably going to have to tuck your shirt into your pants.
Kim Klinger and Sara Rycroft
Where You’ll Find Them: Pow Wow at the Rock and Roll Hotel, Kicks! at the Black Cat
The Spin: “Pow Wow is a big old mess of garage rock, psych, 70s punk, powerpop, bubblegum, beat, shoegaze, the occasional classic rock or metal track, and whatever else we feel like playing through a Jameson haze.…You may find yourself waking up in a gutter afterwards.”
Translation: Powerpop or bubblegum? Who can tell the difference when you’re too drunk to hear anything. Avoid loose clothing, stick with a dance move that doesn’t require much control over the extremities, and hope for the best. Be warned: Irish whiskey might cost you a fiver, but public-urination charges and ambulance bills can run much higher.
Where You’ll Find Them: Breakin’ Glass at the Wonderland, Heat at Café Saint-Ex
The Spin: “When not DJing, Nite engrosses himself in music research and ‘development.’ His quest for elusive soul recordings has left him with a plethora of local material; each new discovery becoming a stepping stone towards deeper (and rewarding) obscurity.…The Nitekrawler never sleeps.”
Translation: Some may doubt the danceability factor of one man’s descent into deep, rewarding obscurity, but Nite’s vaguely ominous sign-off might just be enough to quiet the haters. If DJ Nitekrawler really “never sleeps,” just dance like you know what “Boomin’ in Your Jeep” is and don’t ask any questions.
Gavin Holland and Chris Burns
Where You’ll Find Them: Party Bros at the Rock and Roll Hotel
The Spin: “Are you ready for party jams packed to the brim with WILD guitar solos? Do you sometimes just want to LET LOOSE… but don’t feel like apologizing for it??!?! Do you think that dance parties are starting to look too much like Zoolander…and not enough like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? God damn it, do you like to party? Then party with the experts: PARTY BROS.” Party Bros finish their rundown by employing a time-tested hipster pastime: making fun of hipsters. “It also sounds like poor little hipsters getting their ears crushed by our MASSIVE SOUNDSYSTEM!!!”
Translation: If you’re wondering what that orange stain is all over your tongue, lips, and jaw the next day, it’s the Sparks. Next time, cut out the middleman and go straight for the beer bong.
Where You’ll Find Him: Avenue, Ultra Bar
The Spin: “Words cannot describe his performances, as it must be seen and heard live to be truly appreciated. Geometrix’s sets are known for creating a euphoric musical experience like no other…he flawlessly combines the energy and passion of diverse genres of music and has been known to leave the crowd in awe and utter amazement.”
Translation: Although words cannot describe DJ Geometrix’s sets, if pressed, I’d have to say that his experiences are only for that diverse crowd interested in utterly flawless euphoric passion.
DJs Ca$$idy, Ris Richards, and “Child Star” Austin
Where You’ll Find Them: Garutachi at the Rock and Roll Hotel
The Spin: Garutachi describes its sound as “something like: new wave mixed with robot rock mashed with bossa nova mixed with j-pop mashed with swede-pop mixed with french-pop mixed with hip hop mashed with disco house mixed with post punk mashed with noise.”
Translation: I have no idea what the fuck that sounds like.
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