It’s kind of hard for me to describe the dance party scene in DC, because I have kind of a stream-of-consciousness reaction that involves the words “awesome” “super fun” and “pure joy.” Perhaps the best way to start is to tell you what it’s not: it’s not the club scene. Sure, both involve dancing, but everything from the kind of dancing to the music being played is completely different. There’s no velvet rope with a bouncer letting in the right amount of girls and guys, there’s no Top 40 playlist, and there isn’t even any bumping and grinding (unless you really want to).
What you will hear is usually more along the lines of Depeche Mode, The Shins, or Passion Pit. It’s not all indie music, though– these days you can find 80s, 90s, British pop, and electronic, too.
No matter what kind of dance party you pick, you can always expect a bunch of casually-dressed 20-somethings looking to have a good time. Sure, not all of them can dance well, but especially as the night goes on, there are usually enough people packed on those tiny dance floors that nobody even notices your white-boy moves.
If that sounds like something you can get down with, where should you go to find such good times? Venues like DC9, Rock and Roll Hotel, and Black Cat have regular dance parties on their schedules every month. Liberation Dance Party happens every Friday night at DC 9, R&R hosts a dance party called Peppermint every 2nd Saturday of the month along with a queer-friendly dance party called Mixtape at the beginning of every month, and Black Cat’s Mousetrap, Bliss (and Blisspop), and Black CATatonia dance parties are always insanely fun.
Keep an eye on the 9:30 Club’s schedule, too, because they hosted the No Scrubs 90s dance party a little while back. Another sure thing is Nouveau Riche, which is usually at DC9 but isn’t on their schedule right now. Here’s what is a sure thing for the rest of September:
Friday, September 11: Liberation Dance Party at DC9 ($7, free rail drinks from 9-10:30pm); Vibrating Particles at Black Cat ($7, to benefit YogaActivist.org); and Flat Out! at Rock and Roll Hotel (free)
Saturday, September 12: Mousetrap: DC’s Biggest Britpop Dance Party at Black Cat ($10); Feedback Dance Party at DC9 ($6, free entry and Red Bull vodkas from 9-10pm); and Rock and Roll Hotel has dance parties all day: their regular dance party for the kiddies, Baby Loves Disco, is in the afternoon ($12 in advance) and Peppermint at night (free)
Friday, September 18: Liberation Dance Party at DC9 (same deal as 9/11); Epic Dance Party at Rock and Roll Hotel (free)
Saturday, September 19: Right Round: 80s Alt-Pop Dance Night at Black Cat ($6); Garutachi! at Rock and Roll Hotel (free)
Friday, September 25: Liberation Dance Party at DC9 (same deal as 9/11); Transformer: Vintage, Rock, Pop, Glam, and Disco for the discerning queer at Black Cat ($5)
Saturday, September 26: BLISS Dance Party at Black Cat ($7)