“Hopefully it wasn’t just a trend this summer to, you know, care about Black people,” says Matt Bailer. For his part, Bailer was inspired by the Black Lives Matter-related calls for greater racial justice and equity to diversify the kind of retro pop music he’s become known for over the last decade. So he created a summer project for himself.
After creating three distinct accounts on Mixcloud, he proceeded to focus on Black artists for the monthly mixes he creates for his two decade-specific accounts, inspired by his monthly parties Peach Pit and Shady Pines at DC9. (The third, DJMattBailer, focuses on current dance/pop hits.)
“For the ’80s [ShadyPinesDC] and ’90s [PeachPitDC] pages, I put together three mixes each. Each month’s mix is about three hours, so there’s a total of nine hours of ’80s music and nine hours of ’90s music by Black artists, many of which I knew and were familiar with, and many of which either the song or the artists I had never heard before.”
Some of Bailer’s discoveries and additions have been making their way onto the setlists of the monthly livestreams he’s been offering since the pandemic forced an indefinite hold on nightlife in general, and live music and DJ dance events in particular.
This weekend Bailer will celebrate the 11th anniversary of Peach Pit as well as offer another Shady Pines set through two nights of livestreams direct from DC9 accompanied by the venue’s owner Bill Spieler. “Bill has been extremely generous and supportive,” Bailer says. “Basically I go in there on the second floor where the dance floor used to be and I DJ to an empty room. And he’s sitting across the room [handling the] technology, making it happen and controlling the visuals and making sure everything is going smoothly.”
With the weather currently mild, DC9 has been able to open its roofdeck to patrons. “They are taking reservations with socially distanced tables, and feature screens to watch the livestream,” he says. “It’s great, because that way they’re able to also make some money off of it.”
Bailer had been working as one of gay D.C.’s most prominent DJs and party promoters on a full-time basis for a decade before the pandemic. In the months since, he’s mostly been relying on savings to make ends meet. He’s also relying on donations that come through his livestreams. “People have been super-generous and I’m grateful for literally every cent that comes in,” he says. “But that’s not why I’m doing this. I want to keep these events going. I have this general desire for sharing music, and this is the only way I can do that now.”
The livestreams have come with their own set of “pluses and minuses,” as well as adjustments that Bailer says he’s still getting used to, among them the fact that there’s a camera on him as he spins. “I’m not used to or super comfortable with that,” he says. “When I DJ, I like to kind of disappear and let the music be the entertainment, not me.”
In addition to images of Bailer spinning, the livestreams include a slideshow of pictures from the events over the years taken by David Claypool and a visual mix created by Bailer’s friend James Barker, a film producer in New York. “He’s spliced together some ’80s and ’90s visuals, some dancing videos and some clips of movies and commercials to set the mood.”
For now, Bailer is resolute about keeping Peach Pit and Shady Pines running, even if they’re virtual for several more months. “I’m going to try to stick it out as long as I can,” he says. “I feel like there’s a lot of us who are doing that, who are just kind of biding our time and hoping that we get a new president. A lot depends on that, I think. I’m hoping that things start up again sooner than later. I just hope that there are businesses to go back and play once this is all over, because that’s not really guaranteed right now. So I’m trying to do my best to keep people in the mood and keep DC9 on the map.”
Peach Pit’s 11th Anniversary is this Saturday, Oct. 17, starting at 9 p.m., and Shady Pines is Sunday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. Both livestreams are free. Visit www.dc9.club.
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