Artwork by Michael Moraine. Glenn O’Brien’s Schott Perfecto jacket personalized by Jean-Michel Basquiat #KnowYourHerstory
The past 2 years, I’ve done these huge, lengthy write-ups here on DC House Grooves previewing cool alternative events happening during Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) weekend and other suggestions for how to navigate DC’s signature leather and fetish event. But, thankfully, I think the time for hand holding is over. DC and so many other cities across North America are featuring thriving queer underground communities now, and the growth of good shit to do during MAL is a reflection of that. #MALLORY2018 is the best schedule of underground events to date for MAL, and I’m pretty sure everyone gets what we’re doing and why by now.
So it’s really quite simple this year. These are the main moves to achieve maximum MAL impact (but I’ll list even more good shit to do down below):
There’s really no right or wrong way to do MAL. This weekend is really all about letting your inner kink demon out. So these listings and the following advice are just my 2 cents:
Buy advanced tickets and thank the party planners. Tickets are selling out and will be more expensive at the door, so plan ahead and save coins. And also please be polite to the party planners about guest lists and information seeking. These events are expensive AF with the talent we’re bringing in and are a lot of hard work to produce. We’re investing in you to make this community better, but we’re also understanding of procrastination and differing income levels. Offer to pay reduced price or whatever you’re comfortable with. Look at event pages for the information you’re seeking before texting the DJ and be patient with response times.
Don’t get stuck in the hotel for too long. Have all the fun at the hotel and exhibition hall and be safe in whatever way that means to you. But definitely get out and enjoy DC too. I’m obviously focusing on nightlife in this post but the museums, restaurants, and sights-to-see here are all top notch.
Pace yourself and be safe. Even with having Monday off for the MLK holiday, this weekend is still very draining. Sleep when you can. Eat well. Drink water. Look out for one another. Take uber/lyft/via with friends.
Avoid circuit music. Music is obviously subjective, but seriously.. circuit music is really, really bad, you guys. I could get into the toxic, masc, homogeneous culture of it all or the bad drugs in the circuit scene, but, at the end of the day, MAL has something for everyone, and we’re just offering something different with #MALLORY2018. Do what you want. There’s plenty of fun to be had by all in whatever scene floats your boat.
Grab a drink at TRADE. Having Trade as a quality, everyday gay bar the past 2 years has been so crucial to the growth of our community. The drag queens and DJs there have complete freedom to be themselves, and it is so refreshing. Their lineup this weekend is super good: (Alex DB on Friday, Mark O’Brien (our buddy from Polyglamorous in SF!!) on Saturday, and Church on Sunday with Outputmessage, Wess the DJ, Rev. Jesse Jackson and drag performances by Jaxknife, Jane Saw and Pussy Noir!
Check out The DC Eagle. People complain about how far it is, but DC is a pretty small city, and the Eagle is definitely worth a visit. The place is huge! 3 floors with something for everybody. They’ve also provided a crucial 24-hour space for many different music scenes, including good house and techno parties we frequent like Sequence.
I already listed the main moves for the weekend but here are my full listings of good queer parties to check out this weekend:
Oh.. and there are also rumors of a word-of-mouth, no social-media-posting after party Sunday night featuring DJ Still Standing (any of the many queer DJs both locally and in town who are still on their feet). Inquire within.
I honestly didn’t know if I was going to do Pride Underground this year. Not because of a lack of quality DIY, music-forward, independent-of-Capital Pride events this year (actuality, this is, by far, the largest collection of pride events I have ever found that fit that bill). I was mostly hesitant because a) it is a very large undertaking, and b) this is a confusing time to be gay in America, with lots of heated and needed discussions about what is and what should be the point of Pride in the Trump era. I thought maybe this was a year to just take a seat, and focus more on listening to the people who have largely felt silenced during Pride celebrations, rather than try to insert into the narrative my take on what a good party agenda is for the weekend.
Concerns about the commercialization of Pride and the lack of representation of POC, women and the trans community are certainly not new, but they’ve been more formally organized this year under a coalition of queer organizations and individuals called No Justice No Pride. Their efforts have solicited a wide-range of responses from Capital Pride and the community at large. Some see it as a much-needed activist element that has been missing from Pride for too long. Some choose to ignore. Others are dismissive of a “pesky bunch” they like to label as “the intolerant left.” To be honest, some of the in-fighting on both sides is getting a bit out of control, and I think most people in the gay community feel somewhere in the middle. I’m hearing a lot of calls for “can’t we all just get along?” However, while that sentiment might be cute, it only stifles the meaningful and needed dialogue we need to have in order move our community forward. You don’t have to support of all of NJNP’s viewpoints or agree with their tactics, but now is now the time to be dismissive of people who for too long have not had a seat at the table.
These are trying times, and dance culture has an important role to play in organizing and providing relief for those who are resisting and fighting back. DC’s dance community is strong, and LGBTQ+ people are vital to its current health- providing quality, welcoming events all over the DMV. It was these people who reached out to me asking if Pride Underground was happening again this year who ultimately convinced me that these listings need to happen, now more than ever.
So with that, I present to you the Pride Underground 2017 listings. As I mentioned before, there are so many good events this year, and I wish I could have provided detailed write-ups for all of them. So I kindly ask that you click on all the links provided and learn about these events and add the people throwing them to your radar, even if they don’t ultimately make your dance card during this very busy Pride weekend. I’ve also included information for marches, panel discussions, and activist demonstrations under an “Act Up” column, so make sure you do more than just drink and dance this weekend! And if there’s anything I missed (and I’m sure I did), please reach out to me. I am happy to add them (you can reach me here)! Category is queer, non-official, and welcoming to all.
And if you dig what this is all about, please share on social media and use #PrideUnderground, if you’re so inclined. Happy pride!
FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/309540479489471 DJs: Ripping Headaches (Special Guest) + Wolfblister & Dianamatic (Schadenfreude Neubauten) Location: Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar Time: 9PM-2AM 411: Schadenfreude Neubauten takes place on 2nd Thursday’s at Dr Clocks- a place I like to call the DJ incubator space. It’s always free and weird: minimal synth // post-punk // wave // ebm // industrial // and whatever else.
Regrets Only: S&M Pride Kickoff
FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/178927462637633 DJs: DJ Lisa Frank & Sarah Myers Location: Ten Tigers Time: 10PM-2AM 411: Ten Tigers has been a much welcome addition for DC’s dance community- providing an intimate, uptown space with great sound, good food, and a nice slate of parties eager to take advantage. Regrets Only (Nitti, Morgan, Taiga and guests) got in early, pushing a weekly Thursday shame fest! For pride, Morgan and Sarah Myers take over and are encouraging fetish gear.
FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/286947428398903/ DJ: DJ Alex DB (BODYWORK D.C.), DJ Kristy la Rat (Anthology of Booty, Maracuyeah), MOTHERSHIESTER (Anthology of Booty), Natty Boom (Anthology of Booty), DJ INDANILE (Anthology of Booty), DJ bent (Anthology of Booty), JUNEBULLET (She Rex), DJ C.RUSH (She Rex), DJ COACH (She Rex) Location: Black Cat Time: 9PM-3AM 411: I’m not even sure how many years this has been going on, but it’s safe to say this party has achieved legendary pride status for DC! 2 floors of fun at Black Cat featuring the full cast of DJs from the Anthology of Booty and She Rex crews.
FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/432578393766591/ DJs: Bright Light Bright Light, Shea Van Horn, Strike Stone Location: Green Lantern Time: 9PM-close 411: The indie-synth pop singer Bright Light Bright Light, who has toured with the likes of Scissor Sisters and Elton John, is back again for Otter Crossing’s pride party! This year, Shea Van Horn and OX resident Strike Stone join the lineup!
FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/1866973313564291 DJs:DJ Minx (Women on Wax, Detroit), The NeedlExchange (Bil Todd, Baronhawk, DJ Lisa Frank, Tommy Cornelis) and Jacq Jill (JUICE, DC) Location: Warehouse Location in NE DC, TBA Time: 9PM-6AM 411: TNX, hot off officially adding Morgan as a full-time member, are back at it for their fourth pride party- this time moving into the ROAM warehouse location for their first all-night affair for pride! Joining them is DJ Minx, the legendary Detroit recently named one of the five best performers at Movement by Resident Adviser, for her DC debut plus local favorite Jacq Jill. I’m obviously super biased, but this is THE party of the weekend. Pro-tip: do not get wasted at the parade or other day-drinking festivities! Save your energy for this. And if you’re worried about this affecting your marching ability on Sunday, we promise Minx is gonna leave you more uplifted coming out of it than you came in!
FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/610155315853497 DJs: Devon Trotter, The Barber Streisand, Dean Sullivan Location: Flash Rooftop Time: 6PM-10PM 411: I’m so glad Flash is bringing back this fundraiser for one of my favorite organizations: HIPS. This is gonna be the perfect post-parade, pre-turnup event on Saturday! Here’s their mission statement: HIPS promotes the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. HIPS provides compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency.
DJs: DJ Precolumbian (Philly) and DJ Olive T (NY) Location: The Airedale Time: 7PM-11PM 411: The correctly spelled Bodywork DJs, Alex DB and Abby, are throwing a special Sunday evening Bodywork just for pride and have booked a really dope headliner to boot in DJ Precolumbian (check out this great mix and Q&A she did w/ DISCWOMAN). Those still standing from a long weekend of dancing and marching are in for a treat!
Trade has been such a welcome addition gay bar to DC. It wasn’t that long ago that underground queer artists couldn’t get booked at most gay bars, but Trade has totally changed the landscape. Check ’em out all weekend!
Also check out the Pride Underground listings from 2016 and 2015– it’s fun to see the evolution!
For DC House Grooves, I’ll be talking about the unofficial, underground events that have sprung up in support of this amazing weekend! And to thank you for reading this long-winded preview, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to see Horse Meat Disco on Saturday! Just fill out the form here.
For MAL 2017, we’ve definitely compiled our most ambitious schedule yet, with the TNX/DJ Lisa Frank, Honcho & Otter Den crews working together for what we’ve dubbed #MALGroupPlay: 4-nights of madness with amazing queer talent from London, Detroit, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and, of course, a heavy dose of DC!
Without further ado I’ll get to this full listings:
Cost: Free 411:Trade opened up on 14th street a little over a year ago, and it has been such a welcome addition for the gay community. We finally have a gay bar that allows DC’s queer DJs and drag queens to push the envelope in music selection and performances. For the past year, the extended TNX dance music fiends have been meeting up there on Thursdays for what we’ve dubbed “Fam Night”, and from there we stroll off to find the best dance floor, whether it be at St. Ex, Ten Tigers, Velvet Lounge, UHall or Flash. It’s really brought our community together and lights up any dance floor we end up at. We decided to kick off MAL weekend by bringing all of this energy right to Trade, and we’ve booked Jeffrey Sfire from Detroit… the brains behind this dance floor classic:
I’ll be on opening duties DJing under my drag persona Poppy Burns starting at 9PM, then we’ll have a special performance by visual artist Kunj at 11PM and then Sfire will bang it out the rest of the night!
I also wanna give a huge shout out to TRADE for letting us use their bar as our home base for the weekend. The lineup for the entire weekend is stacked and don’t forget about their XL Happy Hour Deals (XL mixed drinks and $4 beer/wine til 10PM).
DJ:Keenan Orr Location:DC Eagle Time: 9PM-3AM Cost: Suggested $5 Donation 411:A year ago I wrote that the DC Eagle was finally open for business after a lengthy and difficult move to Benning Road, and I hoped MAL weekend would help get DC’s only leather bar back on their feet. Wow- what a difference a year makes! The Exile dance floor space, the basement, and the patio bar are now regularly pumping out great dance events, and not just for the queer or leather community. Crews of all persuasions have made this a staple of DC’s now thriving after-hours scene. Definitely make sure you get out to The DC Eagle at least once this MAL Weekend. There are free shuttles from the host hotels, tons of parties going on, and this great little opening party with one of my favorite DJs in the world: Keenan Orr!
411: These two remain some of my favorite guests we’ve ever had at the old-format TNX at Velvet, and I’m so excited they’ll be kicking off Night 2 of #MALGroupPlay. The exhibitor hall is open at the host hotel at 4PM, and this will be the perfect spot to head to afterward and/or the designated meet-up happy hour before Furball with Vicki Powell and Honcho at U Street Music Hall! Dean Sullivan will be continuing on at Trade afterwards for the rest of the night, if you’re not quite ready to head to UHall yet.
411: 3 years ago, I met and saw Aaron Clark DJ for the first time at the Luther party for MAL, 2 years ago Honcho and TNX hosted our MAL party together, last year we each hosted our own parties to make for a bigger weekend of events, and this year TNX is moving to a warehouse space and Honcho is taking over U Street Music Hall. The exponential growth of quality, underground events for MAL astounds me, and the fact that they’re bringing in Vicki Powell from Atlanta is just icing on the cake!
MAL Group Play Happy Hour w/ Outputmessage DJ:Outputmessage Location:Trade Time: 7-10PM 411: Night 3 of #MALGroupPlay continues with Outputmessage hosting happy hour duties at Trade. Rest up during the day, then get your squad together here and carpool over to Horse Meat Disco! Barber Streisand is DJing the rest of the night at Trade here, and HMD will be going til 6AM so take your time getting over to 300 Morse (but not too much!).
DJs:Horse Meat Disco (London), The NeedlExchange & DJ Lisa Frank Location: TBA Time: 10PM-6AM Cost:$15 Advance, $20 at door before 3AM, $25 after 411: When something is so right and just makes perfect sense, why not do it again? Horse Meat Disco and MAL go together perfectly, so DJ Lisa Frank & TNX are bringing them back again this year, but this time at 300 Morse for extra hours of fun. Remember that MAL is a marathon not a race, so make sure you pace yourself just right for the prime-time event. If you’ve never caught an HMD set, get ready to dance and smile for hours!
411: A new addition to last year’s schedule of events, this Sunday tea dance hosted by Otter Crossing ended up being the surprise breakout hit of the weekend! This year Strike Stone is on the lineup and they’re bringing in Mark Louque, founder of PTown’s legendary FAG BASH party. Last year Town ended up giving over the reigns for the night to a bunch of DJs still standing from the weekend afterwards, and there is a rumor that may happen again 😉. Plus Town is conveniently located by the official closing party at 9:30 Club with Ultra Nate!
It’s very easy for MAL newbies to spend all of their time in the host hotel and at circuit parties, so my biggest advice is to get out and enjoy our beautiful city and the diverse and music-forward dance culture we have. As you can see, there’s not a lack of options!
This year’s listings are certainly the biggest we’ve had, a testament to the many crews stepping up their games for Pride this year. We’re seeing awesome bookings like Gay Marvine, Vjuan Allure, Honey Dijon, K-Hand, and Lisa Moody to name a few. So without further ado, here are the listings for the Pride Underground 2016:
WEDNESDAY – JUNE 8TH
BJK: The Officially Unofficial Pride Humpday Disco FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/1082212858518521/ DJ:Jacq Jill Location:Colony Club 411: Over the winter, DJ Jacq Jill hosted cozy DJ nights on Tuesdays called Hot Toddy at Petworth’s Colony Club. For Pride, Jacq Jill (real name Lauren Wright) will be ditching the hot drinks, invoking Billy Jean King, and heading outside on Colony Club’s lovely back patio. If you’ve never been, Colony Club is primarily a day-time coffee shop, but has a really great beer list, hosts cute and chill queer parties at night, and even has a ping pong table upstairs. Jacq Jill owns deep house and regularly works alongside the Blisspop and Philco party crews!
My 2 Dads.. and Mother Too! FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/586881354826022/ Location:Trade DJs:DJ Lisa Frank, Bil Todd & Poppy Burns (Tommy Cornelis) 411: One of the best pick-ups for the queer community in 2016, in my opinion, has been the addition of Trade on 14th street. It’s really served as a much-needed, everyday gay bar, with quality DJ bookings on the weekends from underground stalwarts such as TNX, Dean Sullivan, DJ Lemz, Wess the DJ, Keenan Orr & more. DJ Lisa Frank and Bil Todd experimented with their My 2 Dads night a couple months ago- playing everything from house, techno, disco to freestyle. It’s back again for a special pride edition, with the addition of me DJing through my drag alter-ego Poppy Burns!
Schadenfreude Neubauten FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/281205252227356/ Location:Dr Clock’s Nowhere Bar DJs: Wolfblister & Dianamatic 411: I’m really happy to see that Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar is back after a short hiccup as DC’s de-facto incubator space for weirdo, experimental parties and that Schadenfreude Neubauten is back as well- where DJs Wolfblister (Kwasi) and Dianamatic play an eclectic mix of coldwave, post punk, minimal synth, goth and near goth stuff.
BHH: Rock & Roll Hotel – PRIDE 2016 – feat Juana FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/1001321969983341/ Location:Rock N Roll Hotel DJs:Juana (One Love Massive), Tommy Cornelis B2B Dean Sullivan 411: Last summer, Rock N Roll added DJs on their rooftop every Friday and Saturday, leaving the Bear Nonsense Happy Hour, which happens every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, in need of a good music marriage to their already thriving event. I decided to step in with my disco Disco Sunset concept, bringing in queer DJs and some fresh meat to DC’s alternative bear happy hour event and playing daytime-vibe disco, funk, boogie and house. This summer, Dean Sullivan has been added as a resident and the marriage has evolved even more. The mix of alterna-bears, RnR regs, the TNX party crew and a diverse cast of queer DJs, always makes for a raucous start to the weekend. For Pride, Dean and I are starting with a B2B set before letting Juana from One Love Massive take over the decks. Expect Paradise Garage-era classics and maybe even a little techno later on.
Booty Rex Pride Party FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/1722169854674388/ Location:The Black Cat DJs: NATTY BOOM (Anthology of Booty), DJ rAt (Anthology of Booty), MOTHERSHEISTER (Anthology of Booty), DJ INDANILE (Anthology of Booty), JUNEBULLET (She Rex), DJ C.RUSH (She Rex), ALEX DB (Bodywork) 411: I think it’s safe to say that this is officially a pride staple event every year now, where the Anthology of Booty DJ collective and the (now sadly defunct) party crew She.Rex join forces to take over both floors of The Cat on Pride Friday. It’s a guaranteed good time, shit show, where the ladies come out in full force (but people of all genders are certainly welcome). I’m especially excited to see Natty Boom and Alex DB back in town from NOLA for this one!
Flash & CPA present HIPS fundraiser w/ Dean Sullivan, Keenan Orr FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/595183360638925/ Ticket:https://hips.nationbuilder.com/pride Location:Flash DJs: Dean Sullivan & Keenan Orr 411: Flash is hosting an awesome fundraising event Saturday during from 6-9:30 to support HIPS– a really important community organization here in the district. About HIPS: “HIPS promotes the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. HIPS provides compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency. We believe that those engaged in sex work, sex trade, and drug use should be able to live healthy, self-determined, and self-sufficient lives free from stigma, violence, criminalization or oppression. We will achieve this through engaging sex workers, drug users and our communities in challenging structural barriers to health, safety, and prosperity.”
Plus with DJs Dean Sullivan and Keenan Orr, this is going to be the perfect post-parade, pre-night time turn up event!
PRIDE ’16: GAY MARVINE, DJ Lisa Frank & The NeedlExchange FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/101655660251587/ Location:U Street Music Hall DJs:Gay Marvine (Bath House Etiquette), DJ Lisa Frank, The NeedlExchange (Bil Todd, Baronhawk & Tommy Cornelis) 411: U Street Music Hall, TNX & Lisa Frank are teaming up again for their 3rd consecutive Pride party. In the past, we’ve brought you Honey Dijon, Honey Soundsystem, Nancy Whang, and Kim Ann Foxman, and they’re not disappointing this year either. Gay Marvine, real name Chuck Hampton, earned his chops DJing in Detroit in the 90s alongside greats such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins, DWynn, Stacey Pullen, and many noted others. He absolutely tore up Movement this year, playing at the Opportunity Detroit Stage at the festival, the queer underground after party Club Toilet, and the Bunker after-party at Tangent too. His sets are based in Detroit house and techno classics, working in his own amazing disco edits along the way. He’s making his DC debut this year alongside the uhall pride crew for what is undoubtedly the top pick for pride weekend. You can even win free tickets through Tortoise and The Snare!
We Can Make It Work 001 FB:https://www.facebook.com/events/1886121518281438/ Location: Warehouse Location TBA DJs: Juan Zapata, Zem Su Yung, Edo, Grody, Philco, Yomimbi 411: This is not a queer event, per say, but in the past year, the connection between the queer underground and the larger head community has never been stronger, and it’s been most evident at the many after-hours and day time warehouse parties popping up all over the city, where mixed crowds have allowed these events to thrive. These DJ vets all have large queer followings too, including Zem Su Yung who was one of TNX’s first guests when we made the move to Zeba Bar.