I was sad to learn recently that DC9 will end its weekly Liberation Dance Party, the premiere indie pop dancehall experience in DC, on Friday, Jan. 18.
Not only has Liberation kept up with the best mix of britpop, glam, new wave, post-punk, dreampop, shoegaze, house, nu disco, hip hop, grime, sheer guilty pleasures, and more since its inception in 2004, it has done so as a video party. For me, the resulting effect has been very similar to a modern equivalent of taking mid-1980s MTV, cutting any of the soft rock crap, and making a party out of it in your favorite third space.
I’m not instantly comfortably anywhere, but I was always at home at Liberation Dance Party, cloaked in the sounds of Franz Ferdinand, the Kaiser Chiefs, Hot Chip, The Sounds, The Killers, and some occasional New Order. I was introduced to new favorites like Dragonette and Goldfrapp. I learned to love Kylie almost as much as Bill Spieler, the host with the most. (Thank you, Bill, for bringing the party for so many years.) VJ Matt Dunn dependably brought David Bowie with him every time and VJ Shannon Stewart played Lady Gaga until Bill got sick of her and banned her from the club (Gaga, that is, not Shannon!).
Liberation Dance Party took its concept further than just videos and dance by hosting concerts. I got to see James Rushent, son of the late producer extraordinaire Martin Rushent, play in his band Does It Offend You, Yeah? But my top three Liberation concerts were undoubtedly Dragonette, The Golden Filter, and Delphic — all three of which I first heard on the DC9 dancefloor. Dragonette came through from Toronto to party rock a couple of times like on Nov. 6, 2009, before they got too big for a small venue like DC9. The Golden Filter brought the best of lush art pop from Brooklyn on June 18, 2010. And synthpop trio Delphic came from Manchester, UK, to open a major tour for the Temper Trap but stopped by for a rare intimate show on Oct. 8, 2010.
The good crowds at Liberation Dance Party during its peak times also were always welcome. My personal rat pack of old men flocked to Liberation after another weekly video dance party at Club Heaven and Hell gave a last gasp and died. But Liberation was home to all kinds of people, young and old, male and female, black and white, straight and gay, who loved the music and the vibe and who loved to dance. The bar served up free rail drinks (after cover charge) for the first hour or so and then kept the microbrews and occasional whiskey shots flowing for my gang thanks to the affable Evan and the lovely, doomed KT. Later, Karen and Erika ably kept the good times rolling behind the bar.
And so it’s all about to come to an end — for now anyway. No more good new music, no more videos, no more late night happy hour, no more cool dancer dudes and lovely boogie babes. Bill tells me he’s tired of doing it. I don’t blame him! It looks like a lot of work to put it all together and I’m sure it’s time consuming to line up all of those videos. But maybe he’ll reconsider sometime down the road when we all miss it? Maybe someone else will start up a party that could take its place? Maybe it could be a monthly party somehow instead of a weekly? DC has loved video dance parties since the first days of the original 9:30 Club — we need another!
All the same, I hope you’ll join me tonight for the penultimate edition and next Friday for the last Liberation Dance Party. And like me, I hope you’ll miss it terribly when it’s gone.