Metro Weekly

The Cherry Fund’s Broadway-Inspired Party Weekend

A guide to the musical-themed, charity-benefiting dance parties on tap for Cherry Weekend from the new organizers in charge.

Cherry's Moodio 54 -- File photo: Yaro Vargas
Cherry’s Moodio 54 — File photo: Yaro Vargas

“I took a step away from Cherry for a few years because I was focusing on my own life at the time,” says Sean Morris, a past board member for the volunteer-run, nonprofit entity that for well over two decades has made a name for itself throwing benefit dance parties. Morris, a renowned D.C. nightlife promoter and DJ, is back on the board of the Cherry Fund, serving as operations manager, helping to guide next weekend’s annual benefit.

“After last year, seeing the kind of backlash that happened in the community, I wanted to be involved again,” Morris says. “I have some expertise in the nightlife world. It’s going to be important to use the tools that we have in place to make sure that we deliver the weekend the way that we intend to.”

That didn’t happen last year. Cherry’s return from the pandemic, organized as a 25th-anniversary affair, faltered from “a series of unfortunate events, kind of all combined into one,” as Adrian Weselin puts it.

Weselin is the new president of The Cherry Fund, currently transitioning into that volunteer role from the outgoing, longtime president, Allen Sexton.

He’s committed to helping Cherry going forward, and has the experience to back it up. “My background is marketing and business consulting and working specifically in operations management,” Weselin says.

“There were some hurdles last year, some unforeseen things that occurred,” he says. “We have addressed those things in order to try to ensure they do not happen again this year.” Essentially, almost every hurdle encountered last year — whether with the last-minute cancellation of the Friday night after-hours or excessive wait times to get into the Saturday night main event, as well as to utilize the venue’s coat check — was rooted either in an operational breakdown or a communications failure, or both.

“Moving forward for this year, we have gone to a digital ticketing system,” Weselin says. This will allow for accurate, real-time tracking of occupancy and capacity for each party. Additionally, says Weselin, Cherry has “gone with venues specifically that have the experience and are able to provide the proper support staff necessary to ensure that our patrons do receive their [checked] items within a reasonable, timely manner.”

“We’ve been a lot more direct and upfront with the venues this year,” adds Morris, “to make sure that they have a full understanding [and] putting requirements in place for minimum staffing to help.”

Cherry's Moodio 54 -- File photo: Yaro Vargas
Cherry’s Moodio 54 — File photo: Yaro Vargas

In planning for this year’s Cherry weekend, Weselin says the idea was, “Let’s focus on doing what we are known for doing well, scaling the [entertainment] lineup a little bit, but still delivering the quality that people have come to enjoy.” What they’ve come up with is a weekend centered around the theme of Broadway musicals — a theme guiding a series of six parties in a more creative and cohesive way than ever.

“That was something that we tried to strive for this year,” Weselin says. “Having a whole broad theme and then sub-chapters that kind of correlate to the main overarching theme.”

The weekend starts with a party Friday night, March 31, at Hook Hall organized around the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch with headlining DJs Micky Friedmann from Berlin and GSP from Greece and, for the first time, encompassing both the venue’s large, vaulted ceiling indoor space and its outdoor terrace.

The next night, April 1, at Echostage brings a Moulin Rouge-themed bacchanal with DJs Las Bibas from Vizcaya (Brazil) and Orel Sabag (Israel), plus performer Zeta Jones, followed by an After-Hours at Flash with DJs Calagna and Eddie Martinez haunted by The Phantom of the Opera. The weekend closes Sunday evening, April 2, with a party at Ultrabar organized around Hairspray with DJs Nina Flowers and Mohammad.

In between Phantom and Hairspray, Sunday also offers an afternoon party at Soundcheck, an escape to The Wizard of Oz to see the wonderful wizard better known as Cherry veteran DJ Tom Stephan — but only for those who buy “an all-access VIP pass. You cannot buy tickets to that specifically, that is the perk of buying the VIP pass,” explains Weselin.

On Saturday afternoon, Soundcheck will serve as the annual birthday bash hosted by Dr. Moody Mustafa and featuring DJ Joe Gauthreaux, a party with a theme playing off the good doctor’s name that is the one non-musical exception to the weekend: “The Handmood’s Tale.”

“We’re the only party that’s happening in D.C. that is actually giving money [to charity],” Weselin says. “It’s entirely nonprofit, so we’re not making anything off of this. And I think that’s important to highlight and keep in mind — Cherry is mission-based.”

That also speaks to a more fundamental point, one going beyond the clear — and critical — need for improved guest relations and patron satisfaction at this year’s Cherry. Cherry is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise money by producing dance parties and then donating proceeds to charity. Because they didn’t clear the hurdles raised by last year’s issues, which resulted in refunds to ticketholders of Friday night’s party and a fair number of Saturday night’s as well, Cherry wasn’t able to give back. Or at least, they haven’t yet.

“There’s been a lot of discussion with attorneys and with our vendors and whatnot,” says Morris, “just because we did have to issue so many refunds last year. And so, as of right now, we have not given back for last year. We’re still reviewing that.”

Over the course of its 25 years, Cherry has raised and donated an impressive sum — more than $1.3 million to charity. There have been other years when the organization’s expenses matched or exceeded revenue and thus also prevented it from giving back and doing good. Morris and Weselin are both determined to see that that doesn’t happen in 2023.

“We’re hoping to be able to give something this year,” says Morris. “But we’ve got to push the mission and really get ticket sales [up] so that we can ensure that we’ll be giving back.”

“We have the opportunity,” adds Weselin, “to bring [the organization] into a 2.0 status to kind of streamline some things, to make things a little bit more efficient. That will allow us to grow in a strategic way that can help bring exposure to those [nonprofit] entities that don’t have the resources and provide support to them. That’s what’s really important.”

Cherry Fund’s Broadway: The 2023 Musical weekend is Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2. An all-access “skip-the-line” VIP Pass, including the Oz party, is $340, while a Weekend Pass excluding Oz is $280. Tickets for individual parties range from $50 to $85. Visit


Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!