September 5, 2018 at 4:36 pm EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Mixtape says goodbye
Mixtape finale, gay news, Washington Blade

A previous Mixtape party held at the 9:30 Club. (Photo by Dave Claypool, Kalorama Photography)

Mixtape 10th anniversary and finale


Saturday, Sept. 8


10 p.m. 


U Street Music Hall



LGBT nightlife has had its fair share of goodbyes this summer with the closing of gay dance club, Town. Now Mixtape, an alternative LGBT dance party, will shutter its “doors” after a decade of hosting queer parties. 

Mixtape’s resident DJs Matt Bailer and Shea Van Horn were inspired to create their own dance party after bonding over a mutual love for spinning tracks. Bailer met Van Horn at another LGBT dance party where the pair immediately hit it off as friends. Van Horn asked Bailer if he would be interested in being the opening DJ for an upcoming party. Bailer accepted and after playing the party, they both realized they had something special. 

In 2008, Bailer and Van Horn decided to put on a trial party together which drew in “a bunch of people.” From there, a decades-long party was born. 

Bailer and Van Horn had an idea for their party’s vibe but weren’t sure about the name. Eventually, they landed on the name “Mixtape” because it encompassed the type of music they wanted to play. 

“We realized that what we wanted to do was be able to play anything we wanted,” Bailer says. “We liked the format of when we would make mixtapes for friends in high school. How it would be a collage of both songs that the person knows that they like and, ‘Let me introduce you to this song that I think you’ll like.’ So we wanted to do a collage of different styles and familiarity and being able to have the kind of opportunity to share new music with people. “

They described Mixtape as a “venue-hopping LGBTQ-plus dance party” which called many venues home over the years including Black Cat, D.C. Nine, Howard Theatre, Rock and Roll Hotel, Town and many more. 

The goal was to create a crowd that arrived just for Mixtape and not just people who happened to be at the location. It was also important to switch up the party’s atmosphere. 

“Whether it’s not a gay bar, not a bar at all or a theater, we’ve enjoyed having it move around from venue to venue and to create a different atmosphere based on where we’re at,” Bailer says. 

Mixtape became known for its eclectic music which included house, nu-disco, electro and indie-dance. The parties became so popular that its last Pride party at 9:30 Club was sold out. 

But now it’s the end of an era. 

Bailer says one major factor in the decision was Van Horn’s move to India although Van Horn still occasionally returns to D.C. to play parties. Another factor is that it’s simply time to end, Bailer says.

“The fact that when we started there weren’t really any monthly alternative parties,” he says. “As opposed to going to a gay club on Saturday night like Town, which is great, but Town is always the place to go on Saturday night. There weren’t any other smaller options of alternative parties to go to. In the 10 years since we’ve started, several more have cropped up and that’s exciting to watch our friends and colleagues create these really successful parties. There’s a landscape now of lots of other parties to go to. Ten years is a good time. It gives us the opportunity to do other things too.”

For Bailer, those other ventures include regular DJing at places like Nellie’s Sports Bar, Trade and Cobalt. He also DJs at Peach Pit, a ‘90s dance party, at D.C. Nine. He says he’s also started a “Mixtapey”-type party in Denver after some of his friends moved from D.C. to Denver and noticed a dearth of alternative LGBT parties in that city. 

Before Mixtape closes up for good it will have one final hoo-rah for its 10th anniversary and finale party at U Street Music Hall on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 10 p.m. Bailer and Van Horn promise it will be a “fun, stress-free” party with “good music, good people and good vibes.” 

While Mixtape may be over, former attendees can get their nostalgia fix by listening to a Mixtape playlist on its website. For more information, visit

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