BENT: Out of Shape

“I’ve done the math, and I’m pretty sure it’s been 289 months,” says Audrey Fix Schaefer, IMP’s communications director. That’s how long it’s felt since 9:30 Club and other IMP venues closed in March 2020. But this week is the light at the end of a very long tunnel. The acclaimed venue is back and once again hosting a litany of live shows from big-name indie bands to beloved local acts with a smattering of dance parties to keep the lineups fresh. With 9:30’s reopening, comes the longed-for return of BENT: Out of Shape, the ever-popular queer dance party and queer music showcase. “To be one of the first back—it still doesn’t feel real,” says event producer Steve Lemmerman, a.k.a. LEMZ, co-creator and producer of BENT. “The fact that we’re one of the return shows and that the return shows are all locals is really touching. It shows you 9:30 has the back of local D.C.” Since launching in January 2019, the quarterly queer gathering has stayed committed to showcasing a variety of local LGBTQ talent and the Sept. 4 lineup is no different. Drag artist Pussy Noir hosts, while DJs Natty Boom, WESS vs. JJ20, DJ Sidekick, and LEMZ remind guests exactly what a dance party is supposed to feel like. Performers include Blaq Milk, Rigatoni, and Bumper, as well as a special guest, Baltimore rapper Rye Rye. Like so many queer parties, BENT was born from the desire to make and keep space for the LGBTQ community to gather. “I just find it so important that our community understand there’s more than just gay out there,” says Lemmerman. “There’s so much more magic and wonderful people that just are unheard of … And so, for us to have this opportunity to bridge the community—it’s so important.” With that in mind, BENT aims to be the kind of place where all letters and subsets of the community mingle and perhaps discover underground or up-and-coming queer talent. That mingling happens on stage too: “A lot of these people have not played together before,” says Lemmerman. “It’s really exciting to get people on the same stage.” BENT returns Sept. 4, 10 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 9:30club.com. $20. All IMP venues, including 9:30 Club, require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results from the past 72 hours to attend events. Masks are mandatory.