(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.
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!