Two decades ago, local nightlife promoter Ed Bailey got the ball rolling, launching a weekly Saturday night Millennium party. Since then, the 9:30 Club has hosted its share of LGBTQ dance parties — from Cherry to Blowoff, from MAL Reaction Dance to Mixtape. This Saturday, Jan. 5, add one more to the club’s estimable roster: Bent.
“We’re launching Bent because D.C.’s gay community kind of needs a big platform, and 9:30 Club is the place to do it,” says Steve Lemmerman, who is overseeing the event. “You know you can be safe at 9:30 as a person in the queer community, and as just a fan of any specific kind of music. It’s a perfect opportunity to showcase our queer community to a larger audience, and have a large home for our community at the same time. That was the inspiration: to just give so much more to our queer community.”
Over the past few years, the 29-year-old Baltimore native has carved out a name for himself as “Lemz,” originally as a resident DJ at Nellie’s and more recently with Sleaze, the monthly party he started at Wonderland Ballroom with DJ Keenan Orr. Orr is also on board with Bent, along with DJ the Barber Streisand and DJ Jacq Jill in the basement Back Bar, but the party won’t just be a larger version of Sleaze.
“Sleaze focuses on dark techno and disco,” says Lemmerman. “We stick to a certain sound. Bent, musically, is going to be a lot of feel-good fun dance music. A little more free-form. A lot of indie pop. And some mainstream pop remix.”
Bent, which is intended as a quarterly event, will offer up a broad range of performers, with the first outing hosted by Pussy Noir, and featuring Bombalicious Eklaver, Donna Slash, and “a few surprises.” Lemmerman stresses that Bent will highlight the performers over the DJs. “I want the light to be on the performers, who don’t always get a stage of this magnitude,” he says.
Lemmerman, who works in the 9:30 Club box office by day, says the club’s production team has been working hard to help him make “some dreams a reality with the stage area.” They’re planning to employ “some pretty cool stage magic” to ensure that “the focus is on the actual dance floor” itself.
“I want everyone to feel like a family, and feel close to each other,” he says. “My goal is to bring together different parts of our community that don’t always interact…. Times have been so tough lately, everyone just needs an escape right now. And 9:30 is helping me provide just that.”
Bent launches Saturday, Jan. 5, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Doors at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.