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“‘No! You can’t do that!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, actually I can.'” And with that statement, a D.C. dance event has peacefully come to a close.
“I had been thinking about it for awhile,” says DJ and producer Will Eastman regarding throwing his final Bliss dance party—-the appropriately named “Last Call”—-on Sept. 26 at the club where he is the principal owner, U Street Music Hall. “Fifteen is a milestone, and my first thought when planning the anniversary was ‘Wow, 15 years. What do I want to do? How do I prepare?’ And then the thought occurred to me that this might be a good time to call it,” he says. “I’m in the studio working on an album and a lot has changed.'”
“If I didn’t do it at 15, I’d end up doing 20, and I have a lot of other things that I want to do in the next five years.”
It’s been a long, impressive road for Eastman and the party from its humble roots as a monthly event at the now-closed Metro Cafe, to eight years at the Black Cat’s backstage bar. Along the way were huge events at the 9:30 Club, featuring the likes of Moby and fellow D.C. stars Nadastrom and Tittsworth, and shows now at U Hall. Eastman is looking forward to a future that includes DJing more on a national basis, an artist album that’s in production, and the release of a new track, “Sugar,” from Nurvous Records on Sept. 14. He’s optimistic about the past and present, too.
“The party was fun and successful,” says Eastman. “When I started doing Bliss in 2000, it was the one party I had to look forward to with excitement and anticipation. Now, at U Hall, we have 30 events a month. I wanted to do something unique and create a choice in the market. [In 2000] there were only top 40 parties, hip-hop parties, retro parties, and big giant club parties, but there really wasn’t a no-attitude, no-velvet-rope [event] that blended punk rock and house music. There were once two DJ events in the 14th Street corridor. Now, on any given weekend night, there are dozens of DJs playing.”
The Wisconsin-born transplant now also has a legacy of sorts to consider and is thinking about exactly where that will extend. “I could have never envisioned this in 2000. [Bliss] had a hand in creating [D.C. nightlife’s current] success. Doing Bliss launched my DJ career, my production career, the Blisspop blog, U Street Music Hall. Now I’m thinking about next stages and putting my DJ energy and focus into this music and figuring out what’s going to inspire me next [is important].”
As for what’s inspiring him musically, there’s certainly a D.C.-based influence that he’s quick to mention. “I like what a lot of the younger guns in D.C. are putting out these days, like Hotel Garuda, Eau Claire, and Royal,” he says. “These are people who have been producing one-fourth of the time that I’ve been producing, and it’s been amazing to see how quick their careers have taken off.”
The final Bliss will feature a a six-hour open-to-close set from Eastman at U Hall. Eastman says to “expect anything.” For a party that’s spanned D.C.’s post-punk dance era through the global indie-electro boom, EDM’s rise and now a future where D.C. names and D.C. clubs (including his own) have risen to considerable acclaim at the top of the dance industry, the set is certain to showcase an amazing evolutionary era for the nation’s capital.