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
21+ (unless you ordered presale tix)