At the same time Phase 1 was on the verge of closing just over a year ago, the legendary lesbian bar’s longtime manager was on the verge of opening a new chapter on life.
“I loved being a part of the dyke bar and being a butch lesbian,” Archer Lombardi says. “I loved that part of me, and that was something that was really tough to know that I was leaving behind.”
The 36-year-old had known he wanted to transition from Angela to Archer and “identify as a more masculine me” for at least a decade. But it took time to get comfortable with the idea. “This is all still really new to me,” he says, adding, “I just officially came out to the world less than a month ago.”
He’s ready to rekindle some of that old Phase 1 magic next weekend by reviving the annual queer music festival he helped start at the former Capitol Hill haunt a decade ago.
“When the opportunity arose, I jumped on it,” he says. “Mainly because I’m missing Phase, and I have such a love for this event.” Now called Phazefest, the evening-long concert at the 9:30 Club features festival veterans the Coolots (“You can’t not have a good time at the Coolots show”), “the fun drag queen-fronted punk band” Homosuperior, and the incredibly talented soulful queer pop artist Be Steadwell, among others, showcasing “just how special the queer D.C. music scene is.”
Lombardi concedes the evening is “geared a little bit more towards queer women, but that’s kind of been my jam for a very long time.” This year’s festival welcomes several nascent lesbian acts Kellyn Marie Goler, Heather Mae, and Olivia & the Mates. The pioneering DC Kings will reunite for the occasion, which ends with a dance party featuring DJ Tezrah.
“I knew it had to happen, and I knew it was going to happen,” Lombardi says when asked about last year’s shuttering of Phase 1. “I was just sad that we didn’t get to really say goodbye.” Phazefest is not that goodbye, he stresses. It’s geared more as a reunion — even for Lombardi, who will return to D.C. specifically for the event. Two years ago, he moved to Chico, California, a “quaint little town” where he owns and runs the Maltese bar with his girlfriend.
“One of the reasons why I’m so excited is that I really feel like we’re going to have a huge crowd that was the Phase 1 crowd,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to that feeling again.” –Doug Rule
Phazefest is Saturday, July 1, starting at 8 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $15. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
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