Metro Weekly

GLOW’s Secret Garden Is An “Escape…With A Chill Vibe”

Secret Garden curator DJ Ed Bailey returns to RFK Stadium with an all-new lineup of DJs situated at the Project GLOW entryway.

Kevin Aviance at Project GLOW's Secret Garden in 2023 - Photo Courtesy Insomnia
Kevin Aviance at Project GLOW’s Secret Garden in 2023 – Photo Courtesy Insomnia

“People who come to these festivals do it in large part because they’re fans of the music,” says Ed Bailey. He’s talking about Project GLOW, the Washington, D.C.-area electronic dance music extravaganza, returning for its third year to RFK Stadium on April 26 and 27.

“The music is born out of clubs and club music, but you’re outside,” he continues. “So it’s basically going to a concert. You’re standing there, you’re facing the artist, they’re DJing on stage, they’re very small because you’re so far away that you can barely see them. You’re standing in a sea of 15,000 people. There are giant pyrotechnics and fireworks and all kinds of things, but it’s a spectacle. It’s not like being at a club.”

Which is where Project GLOW’s LGBTQ-themed Secret Garden area comes into play.

First integrated into the festival at last year’s event and curated by Bailey, the co-owner of D.C. gay bars Trade and Number Nine and a nationally renowned DJ, the Secret Garden stage is designed as an “oasis,” a respite from the more intense aspects of the festival.

“My entire approach has been ‘How can we provide a more club-like experience, where the DJs are playing to the audience?'” he says. “It’s real club DJs who are playing as though you’re in a club with a real dance floor, not where you’re standing and watching. You’re dancing, you’re enjoying yourself. Which is, at its core, the whole genesis of why these music festivals exist.

“It’s high energy but with a chill vibe,” he continues. “The other areas are high energy, and it’s a very intense situation because a lot is going on with the visuals and presentation. This area is much more relaxed. And that’s intentional. It’s supposed to be an escape from the intensity of the larger stages but with its own feel.”

This year’s Secret Garden lineup has something to enthrall almost every EDM fan. Saturday’s roster includes Diyanna Monet, Boomslang, Strikestone!, Dvonne, The Illustrious Blacks, Spen, Derrick Carter, Baby Weight, and Bailey himself.

Sunday brings PWRPFF, Franxx, KS b2b Joann Fabrixx (Flower Factory), THABLACKGOD, DJ Sedrick, Baronhawk Poitier, Mathias, LF System, and Get Face to the DJ stage.

Bailey notes that the entire Project Glow festival is being “completely moved around and reorganized” from last year, and that the location of the Secret Garden stage will be at the very front.

“It will be the first thing people see when they walk into the festival,” he says. “Last year, the location of the Secret Garden was literally at the very end of what you would be able to get to on the festival site, so it was the furthest thing from the entrance. I’m sure there were people who didn’t even make it over to that area last year. Now it’s going to be right next to the entrance. Everyone’s going to see it. Everyone’s going to know it exists.”

He says the staging has been redesigned “to be more accommodating to the fact that we have DJs who are not just somebody who stands behind equipment and pushes buttons and turns knobs, but DJ in a way that is unique, I think, to a lot of what festival-goers are used to. We actually have people who are going to be on a microphone, who are going to be visually performing while they’re DJing.

“And we’re expanding the footprint of what we created last year to have it be a larger feeling,” he adds, “because we overflowed with people last year based on what the thought would be about the area we needed. There’s plenty of room, but we only built it to facilitate a certain number of people, and it was just overflowing around the edges of our area, so we’re going to make the area, in general, larger to accommodate that.”

As for his own participation in the event, Bailey says simply, “The reason I still do what I do for a living is because I love DJing — it’s what keeps me tied to nightlife. There’s no feeling like being in a DJ booth, knowing that you’re helping people have a good day and have a good time.

“When you do it in a room with 50 people, it’s amazing. When you do it in a room with 200 people, it’s even better. And when you do it in a space that has thousands of people, it’s just an exponentially rewarding moment.

“And it’s exciting to play in a lineup where I’m going to be sandwiched between The Illustrious Blacks, who will be amazing,” he adds, “and DJ Spen, who is a literal legend in house music lore. And so, for me, it’s an unbelievable moment where I get to play between people who I revere.”

Project GLOW, with the Secret Garden, is Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28, at the RFK Festival Grounds, located at 22nd and East Capitol Streets NE, in Washington, D.C. Various ticket packages are available. Visit

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