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Classical Trax is a global DJ collective, but that’s selling it short. The music that its members make, mix, and mutate can be grouped together under the increasingly amorphous designation of “club music,” with influences drawn from Baltimore and Jersey club to Angolan kuduro, and from U.K. grime to Chicago juke and footwork.
Regardless of genre—or post-genre hybridizations—there are a few constants across the hundreds of tracks on its Soundcloud: scintillating synthesizers, gut-rumbling bass, heart-palpitating rhythms and vocals borrowed from hip-hop, R&B, dancehall, and elsewhere. But despite Classical Trax’s global reach—it has members from as far away as South Africa, Japan, and all throughout Europe—you’d be hard-pressed to find these experimental sounds in D.C.’s clubs on a regular basis.
“We’re really into playing club music, and there’s not really a party dedicated to that [in DC],” says Paige Plissner, who DJs as The Lothario. Plissner and her partner in duo The Borrowers, Marvin Lopez (who performs as The Clown Prince), were about to start a club night when Classical Trax founder Matt Lutz expressed an interest in launching a party in the area, and the three joined forces. “I figured if we came together, we could get more people out,” Lutz says.
For several years, bringing the club music community together has been a passion for Lutz. In 2014, he was writing about music at a variety of outlets when he founded Classical Trax as an online meeting spot and music repository. Lutz, who lives in Hanover, Pa. and works in Baltimore, quickly found hundreds of other DJs, producers and writers who shared his passion and desire for community.
For much of its two-year existence, Classical Trax has been an online-only space for club music in all its forms, but Lutz concedes that “it’s also good to see people face-to-face and have that human interaction” that only a club can provide. Tomorrow night, Classical Trax becomes tangible at a new monthly event at the 9:30 Club’s Backbar called Guestlist.
The crew behind Guestlist hope that the night will host not just club music proponents from the DMV, but Classical Trax family members from around the globe. “It gives us access to all these artists we’d like to bring in,” says Plissner. First up is Philadelphia’s V. GEELS, but Lutz also wants to host acts from previous generations of club music, like Baltimore’s Spank Rock. In that way, Guestlist could be D.C.’s version of Baltimore’s Taxidermy Lodge, a party that hosted Diplo, M.I.A., the XX and more in the aughts.
For now, they are focused on making the first Guestlist a memorable one. “I’m going to go as hard as I want, play this music that I think is awesome and see what happens,” says Plissner. She’s been playing some of this club music at her other gigs, and it’s starting to find an audience. “You realize you’re not the only one listening to this kind of music.”
Guestlist will take place tomorrow night at 9:30 Club’s Backbar at 11 p.m. and features V. GEELS, The Clown Prince, The Lothario, Panch, and Classical Trax.