This Thursday We Celebrate ST. U HALL DAY.

uhall(photo by Kyle Gustafson)

It’s time to pay homage to my favorite club in DC.  U Street Music Hall is celebrating its One Year Anniversary this THURSDAY, March 17th!  My friends and I made it out last year for their grand opening party and we’ll be there on Thursday to celebrate its First Birthday.  If you haven’t rolled with us to U Hall yet, here’s the scoop on the venue, followed by a quick Q&A sesh with co-owner, DJ, and producer, WILL EASTMAN.

Technically, U Hall has six owners, but Will Eastman and Tittsworth are the two main dudes and they each have their own monthly dance parties here.  Will Eastman’s Bliss dance party is usually every third or fourth Saturday of the month and Tittsworth’s party is usually around the first Saturday of the month.  On all other nights, they strive to bring you the newest, freshest sounds out of DC and beyond.

U Street Music Hall (or U Hall for short) is not exactly a dive bar but not exactly one of the standard, uppity clubs you find all over DC either.  You almost wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it.  There are no flashy lights outside – just a black canopy with the signature white “U” on it.  That’s all it really needs.  It almost seems to regulate the attendees, weeding out the kids who are just looking for a place to rage from the kids who are coming for a specific purpose.

Some of these higher-scale (read: pretentious) DC clubs will charge a ridiculous cover ($25-$30), make you wait in line outside just so it looks like the club is God’s gift to club-goers and everybody is dying to get in (then you finally make it inside and it’s sparse with dancers), just so you can hear some Top 40 shit they play on the radio.  Oh, and don’t forget the dress code – I dunno, you gotta wear your Sunday Best or something.   Seriously, the most I’ve ever paid to get into U Hall was $10 (admittedly, I would even pay more because I love it that much) and there is no dress code.  Wear whatever the hell you want!  I’ve gone wearing dresses and skirts and I’ve also gone wearing Jordans and a tee.  And they will never make you wait outside if it isn’t necessary.  They’re all about getting you in there to experience all the latest in innovative dance music that they want you to hear.

And boy, they want you to hear it loud.  The only question on U Hall’s FAQ page asks, “Is the sound system at U Street Music Hall really THAT good?  Yes.”  I remember one specific Thursday night at U Hall with the Trouble & Bass crew, Flinch, and Canblaster.  I was coolin’ out with a friend and sitting on the back stage.  All of a sudden, this booming, loud-ass bass rips through my entire body, literally coursing from my toes all the way up to my head.  It was electrifying.  I turned to my friend and all I could say (or more like scream) was “HOLY SHIT.”  It’s crisp, clean, and it really is that loud.  It melts faces.  It moves your insides around, I swear.  It is hands down, the best sound system I’ve ever heard.  You have to come hear it for yourself.  It’s an epic experience to be had.  Check this video, which displays what the sound is truly capable of.  SPOILER:  It literally rips paper and moves water.  Serious.

U Hall is so hospitable to its patrons, always taking care of us the best way they know how.  The drinks are moderately priced, around $4 for a beer and up to $8 for a mixed drink.  And with Tittsworth being the adventurous eater he is, it doesn’t come as a surprise that U Hall opened a kitchen for its hungry dancers and inebriates, serving exotic twists on traditional street food.  It’s a small menu, ranging from the classic grilled cheese on Texas toast to Blisspop Bratwurst (Bratwurst stuffed with raspberry preserves, Swiss cheese, and hot sauce) to the infamous Pho Dog (an all-beef hot dog simmered in tasty pho broth, topped with bahn mi slaw, fresh cilantro, thai basil, hoisin sauce, and sriracha).  Yummy, right?

Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Located at 1115 U Street NW between 11th and 12th Sts; 300-person capacity, 1200 ft. hardwood dance floor over a cork cushion (they’re lookin’ out for your jointz), and 20,000-watt sound system.  Two fully stocked bars (one near the entrance and one perpendicular to the DJ booth).  There’s also a cheap coat check for the cold winter months.
  • Some live bands have performed here (Ninja Sonik, OFWGKTA, Holy Ghost!) but U Hall primarily caters to the hip-hop and dance music crowd.  Live shows happen early from 7-11pm and DJ party nights happen from 10-2 on weeknights and 10-3 on weekends.
  • They recently changed their 18-and-over policy due to some douche-baggery, but it’s something that needed to happen.  Basically, if you’re between 18-20 years old, you need to pre-purchase your tickets before the night of the event.

So anyway, I chatted with WILL EASTMAN and here’s what he had to say about keepin’ it real at U Hall, bringing you the newest sounds, and moshing to Nadastrom:

Cool Breezy:  Opening a club is such an ambitious endeavor.  What were the beginnings of U Hall like?  Where did the inspiration come from?

Will Eastman:  We wanted to create a space that would be our ideal spot to DJ and hang out. We spent a lot of time talking about the details, and still do. It’s a work in progress. Our inspiration came from playing at a lot of different clubs and keeping a mental check list of things we liked and disliked.

CB:  What has been one of your greatest challenges with running the club in the past year?

WE:  Definitely finding time to respond to all the inquiries I receive from people whowant to play at the club. As a DJ, I’ve long liked to listen to every bit of music I receive. I’ve discovered some real gems that way. I still take time to listen to musicpeople send me, but it’s getting harder and harder to find time for all of it.

CB:  What do you think contributes to the success that U Hall has experienced so far?

WE:  I think the number one thing is the tremendous support we’ve received from DC music fans and the electronic music community. We’re extremely grateful. Wecouldn’t have imagined any of this when we were planning U Hall.

From a booking and operations stand point, I think the thing that contributesmost to our success is that our core team of owners and staff spends a lot of timetalking about and considering ideas for the club. And when we’re done we start allover again the next day. It’s like becoming a good DJ. One spends 1,000 hourspreparing for every minute in front of a crowd. It takes time and preparation.

CB:  Just this year you’ve had some pretty big events so far.  Moombahton Massive 2 was in January, Odd Future came through in February, Nadastrom is spinning at your one-year party, and you just booked A-Trak for April.  Yall are doin’ big thangz!  What’s next?  What do you see U Hall doing a year from now?

WE:  Nadastrom are good friends and we’re fortunate to have them as residents at theclub. They’re welcomed to play whenever they want. There was no way to predictsome of the shows we’ve been fortunate to host over the past year. I’m still amazed to think Dimitri from Paris, Derrick Carter, Arthur Baker, Michael Mayer,Jellybean Benitez, Francois K, Simian Mobile Disco, and Afrika Bambaataa haveplayed the club. I hope we can host even more in the coming year and be thespot where next year’s heroes played their first DC show. That’s what it’s allabout. Supporting new, forward-thinking music.

CB:  I know I’ve had a ton of CRAZY nights at U Hall this year.  Wanna share any memorable moments of your own?

WE:  Oh damn, there have been a LOT. The look on the Aeroplane guy’s faces whenthey turned up the bass our opening night. Breaking my toe at the soft openingmoshing to Nadastrom. Michael Mayer giving me a hug after his performance.He’s German. They don’t hug a lot. Classixx dropping DC Go-Go. The MartinBrothers completely blowing my mind with their set. Getting schooled on amazingold house stories by Sam Burns and Jellybean Benitez. Tittsworth dumping a hugebirthday cake on me on my birthday and me DJing with frosting all over my handsand face. Pantha Du Prince performing in a monk’s hood. Trouble Funk’s specialsecret show. Dancing like crazy about 100 nights.

Thanks, DC!

If you wanna make it out celebrate to their One-Year-Anniversary Party this Thursday, March 17th, you missed the deadline for the RSVP for free admission, but come anyway!!  It’s only $10 and they’ll be serving free Natty Bohs from 9-10PM.  Nadastrom, Jesse Rose, and Justin Martin will be running the party.  I’ll be there all night so hopefully I’ll see yall there! :)

Nouveau Riche: Five Years Of Helping You Getcha Freak On.

nouveau

Nouveau Riche began as a wee little monthly rager at DC9 way back in 2006.   As the brainchild of DC DJs Gavin Holland, Steve Starks, and Nacey, Nouveau Riche held a lot of promise and soon enough their dance party was filling DC9 to the brim with hot and sweaty hipsters gettin’ their freak on at max levels.  Nouveau Riche became this highly anticipated hotbed of debauchery, selling out every month and led the doors to enforce a one-in-one-out policy.  With this kind of track record, it came as no surprise when in 2008, Nouveau Riche was named Best Dance Party in the City Paper’s Best of DC issue.  In 2010, Nouveau Riche found a new home down the street at U Street Music Hall and has since been celebrating its existence every second Saturday of the month.  Cut to this Saturday and they’re celebrating their Five Year Anniversary – a huge accomplishment in a city that’s got enough dance parties to feed an army.  Wait.  Anyway…

Who are these guys?  Holland, Starks, and Nacey have each experienced their own individual success as DJs and producers.  Gavin Holland is a party-starter-extraordinaire and also works with Chris Burns in Party Bros.  You can find Steve Starks all over DC.  He’s released Git Em on T&A Records last year and now his “Get Fr33ky In the Club” moombahton track is on so many of those moombahton mixtapes infiltrating Soundcloud lately.  It seems like Nacey stays cookin’ up some good shit in the lab and keeps his finger on the pulse at all times.  Last summer, his Bulletproof remix landed the opening slot on Mad Decent’s Lazerproof mixtape.  Both he and Steve Starks collaborated and released Time Run Out/Lydia on T&A Records last year as well.  These dudes are seriously talented.  They create dance anthems on the regular and when combined, the forces are unstoppable.  If ya don’t know, now ya know…

It’s always forward motion for these guys.  Their move from the smaller DC9 attic to the enormous, 300+ capacity basement at U Street Music Hall was risky, but calculated.  Nouveau Riche regulars felt pretty cozy (and fr33ky) at DC9 but the move down the street to U Hall allows Nouveau Riche to grow, getting harder/better/faster/stronger with each passing month.  But no matter where they are, Holland, Starks, and Nacey are sure to remain ahead of the curve as far as what’s happening in the music scene in DC and beyond.  At Nouveau Riche, they’re gonna play some of your fave songs you wanna hear, some shit you’ve never heard before that you’re gonna Shazam and download later, as well as sprinkling in some of their own productions.

It’s anything goes at this party, and I mean that in the greatest way.  The kids are GOIN’ IN from start to finish and you’re probably gonna see some wild shit, but remember, “What happens at Nouveau Riche, stays at Nouveau Riche.”  The music ranges from hip-hop to dubstep to Baltimore club – pretty much anything they feel like vibin’ out to that night.  They’ll keep you movin’ and groovin’ all night and when it’s over, you probably won’t even know what hit you.  It might be the whiskey, it might be all that ass-shakin’ you’ve been doin’, or it might be that hip-hop banger they dropped that made ya head explode.  Either way, whatever it is that you’re looking for, Nouveau Riche will give it to ya just right, all night.

I caught up with the guys to find out where Nouveau Riche came from and where you can expect it to go in the future.  Ch-ch-ch-CHECK IT:

Cool Breezy:  Tell me about the beginning of Nouveau Riche.  What made you three decide to collaborate?  Which clubs hosted the party before you settled at U Hall?

Nouveau Riche:  As the legend goes, Steve and Gavin were coworkers at XM Satellite Radio, and met in the basement gym while jogging on neighboring treadmills.  Steve and Nacey went to high school together and were new roommates living in DC.  Steve introduced Gavin to Nacey, and Nouveau Riche was born.  The collaboration was pretty natural because the three of us seemed to have just the right amount of overlap in musical tastes, balanced with the tastes that are unique to each of us.
Nouveau Riche was mainly at DC9 before U Street Music Hall, but early in the game we bounced around and had parties at a few other venues around town… and a whole lot of house parties.

 CB:  DC is home to such an active nightlife with a million parties.  What makes Nouveau Riche different from the rest?

NR:  Most importantly, we’re producers as well as DJs, and Nouveau Riche is focused around that.  Since moving to U Street Music Hall, we haven’t booked any guest artists because when it’s peaktime, we want to be up there playing our latest tracks.  If it’s 1am and the club is going nuts to something you’ve never heard before, there’s a good chance one of us made it that afternoon and we’re testing it for crowd reaction.  

We’re also unique in our consistency of brand, which probably comes from our real-life friendship.  Nouveau Riche isn’t something we turn on once a month… the music, the clothes we wear, the design sense in the flyers, the way we talk, all of those things come from the simple act of hanging out outside of the club.

CB:  You see a lot of parties pop up and then quickly fizzle out.  Any keys to the longevity of Nouveau Riche?

NR:  Realness.  A gimmick can only last so long.  Nouveau Riche grew organically, as a party that a group of friends looked forward to every month as a chance to get crazy, hear the latest tunes and wear something awesome.  If the turnout was small in the early days, we didn’t care — it’s something we were absolutely committed to.  Essentially people could tell that we really meant it.  That, and being a few steps ahead of whatever the current trend is.

CB:  How do you see Nouveau Riche evolving?

NR:  There’s no question our sound has gotten more consistent over the years.  It used to be a new genre every 10 minutes, now we tend to work and build a huge, fresh club sound.  As our music gains more and more recognition, hopefully you’ll see Nouveau Riche on the road more often, and maybe even get into releasing other people’s music.

CB:  What have you learned about DJing and the party scene in the past five years?

NR:  We’ve learned not to underestimate the audience.  Nouveau Riche has proven that DC party people are hungry for new sounds, not only the stuff they already know.  We’re really lucky for that.

CB:  Nouveau Riche has some of the best event flyers I’ve seen in a while.  Who’s responsible?  Are any of you guys designers?

NR:  Thanks!  Gavin does the flyers.  Doing the best he can do as a self-taught Photoshopper. (Check their flyers here and here – prepare to be entertained.)

Every second Saturday at U Street Music Hall, the stars align and Nouveau Riche emerges like an oasis in the desert.  All is right in the world.  Congrats to Gavin Holland, Steve Starks, and Nacey – here’s to another five years!  See you Saturday. :)

U Street Music Hall

10PM

$10

21+ (unless you ordered presale tix)