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Former Town manager plans new weekend dance/drag party

Weekly Avalon Saturdays events at Soundcheck to feature Lena, Ba’Naka et. al.

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Ba'Naka, gay news, Washington Blade, Avalon, Avalon Saturdays at Soundcheck

Local drag legend Ba’Naka will be at the first Avalon Saturdays event this weekend. (Photo courtesy Avalon)

The closing of Town left a hole in D.C. LGBT nightlife that is slowly being repopulated by parties at smaller venues throughout the city.

Avalon Saturdays at Soundcheck (1420 K St., N.W.) is the latest gay dance party to emerge in the city’s post-Town world. Promoter Dougie Meyer told the Washington Blade he decided to start a new party after hearing people over the summer mourn the loss of Town.

“Town as everyone in this city knows was an institution,” Meyer says. “That’s where everyone went and knew they could have a great time and dance all night long. Once it closed it was almost like there was no dance club left. We had many bars in the city but there was no actual dance club space. Over the summer, all I was hearing from so many people was, ‘I wish we had a dance club.’”

He decided that he could make it happen.

Meyer, who previously worked as a general manager at Town, reached out to Soundcheck as the home for Avalon Saturdays. He explains that he chose the space because of its D&B Audiotechnik Y-series speakers and its lighting system. Meyer says he, “could think of no better space to create a dance party than in a space like Soundcheck.”

Avalon Saturdays presents its debut party on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 10 p.m. Drag queens Lena Lett, Ba’Naka, Sasha and Gigi will perform. Eddie Danger and Trevor Northman will give dance performances and DJ Steve Sidewalk will spin tracks all night. General admission tickets are $15. VIP tickets are $25 and give ticket holders access to express entry and a private VIP lounge with private bar.

If partygoers hope to make Avalon Saturdays their new weekly hotspot, they won’t get bored. Meyer promises that each party will have a weekly rotation of drag queens and DJs to give each party its own vibe.

Meyer also thinks it’s important to switch up the type of music played throughout the night. He surveyed groups of people immersed in D.C.’s nightlife to discover what people want.

“They want a little bit of everything from pop music and EDM remixes. But there’s also a massive group who want circuit music. There’s also people who want to see drag queens, they want to see performances. You’re going to get a little mixture of everything throughout the night,” Meyer says. “It’s not going to be a set, sit-down drag show but you’re still going to get those drag performances that are going to pop up throughout the night. You’re going to be able to come early on and get more of the top 40s, EDM remix feel but as the night goes on it will be more circuit.”

Upcoming events include Avalon’s Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 27 and numerous other events throughout November and December.

Although there will be varying music throughout each party and something new to expect at each event, Meyer hopes that every partygoer has the same feeling when they leave Soundcheck.

“I’m hoping that when they walk away they have a smile on their face because they danced their face off and they had one of the best nights that they’ve had in a long time,” he says. “I want everyone who goes there to feel safe and accepted and in a happy place, a happy space, and it’s gong to make them want to come back and do it the next week.”

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Bars & Parties

KINETIC: Pride DC launches with 3 major events

Weekend kicks off Friday with UNCUT XL at BLISS

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KINETIC: Pride DC will partner with Capital Pride Alliance to celebrate Pride month with three official events that will feature leading gay DJs: Abel, Ben Bakson, Joe Pacheco, Dan Slater and Alexis Tucci.

The weekend kicks off Friday, June 10 at 10 p.m. with UNCUT XL at BLISS Nightclub. Grammy-nominated DJ Abel will headline the city’s “most risqué circuit event of the year” at BLISS nightclub.

“Uncut is returning to DC Pride for the first time in four years so there will be lots of sweating, dancing, and men bumping and sliding into one another on the main floor as well as in the play zone,” said producer Jesus Quispe in a press release late May.

 KINETIC: Pride Galactic Edition will be on Saturday, June 11 at 10 p.m. at Echostage. DJs Dan Slater and Ben Bakson will perform back-to-back sets. DJ Joe Pacheco will open the night.

The series of events will wrap up on Sunday June 12 with DC Pride’s official closing party, “discoVERS” at 10 p.m. at SAX in Downtown D.C. Disco-diva Alexis Tucci will spin an open-to-close set with Disco, Nu-Disco, and Disco House music all night long. Special performances throughout the night will be integrated into her high-energy disco set as well.

To purchase tickets, visit KINETIC: Pride DC.

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Bars & Parties

Beyonce vs. Rihanna dance party

Music provided by DJ Just Different at Union Stage

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R² Productions LLC and Union Stage are teaming up to host  R² Productions’ inaugural “MEGA Dance Party” on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Union Stage at The Wharf.

The event will be a night full of dancing to music by pop stars Beyonce and Rihanna. DJ Just Different will be performing at the event. 

General Admission tickets cost $25 and Premier Plus tickets cost $35. For more information about ticket purchases, visit Union Stage’s website.

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Bars & Parties

Kiki quickly becomes popular LGBTQ destination

New bar on U Street plans summer expansion, patio space

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Kiki, at 915 U St., is already drawing crowds. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

After a New Year’s Eve soft opening, Kiki has become one of the most popular LGBTQ destinations in Washington, D.C.

The two-floor bar takes over the space vacated by Velvet Lounge and Dodge City on the 900 block of U Street. Both closed during the pandemic. The locale is directly adjacent to another gay bar, Dirty Goose.

Owner and gay man Keaton Fedak, a general manager at Dirty Goose, noticed that these two next-door bars had gone dark during the pandemic, and met with the owners of the two buildings, who are cousins. Plans quickly developed to use both buildings to craft an expansive, interconnected, inclusive space to transform the city’s gay bar landscape.

Fedak called the bar “Kiki” both after himself (it’s a nickname) and for its connection with the LGBTQ community. “The word wasn’t invented by the Scissor Sisters song,” he explains. “It’s been an important concept in the community for decades.”

The first half of Fedak’s vision has already opened. The ground floor of the 915 U St. building is open-plan space with bar stools and a color-block wall of rainbow panels. A bar sits in the back up a short flight of stairs. This level will feature music, but quieter than the second-floor space. There, a DJ booth presides over a large dance floor. Disco lights flood this space; there is a bar on this level as well. The elevated dance floor is set to hold drag shows.

In the spring, a small patio will open, strung with fairy lights. It will have a “backyard aesthetic,” he says, to be green, bright, and relaxing. “It’s a good place to chill on a nice day outside.” It may even be reminiscent of Town Danceboutique’s popular patio.

The second half, at 917 U St., is still waiting for permits, and Fedak hopes to open this section in the summer.

It will connect to the current space via the outdoor patio. This section will have more of a sports bar feel, given Fedak’s connection to D.C.’s Gay Flag Football League (he is a former board member). The bar will welcome Stonewall Sports and other LGBTQ sports teams, and will be replete with plenty of mounted TVs to show various games.

After the closing of Cobalt and Town, Fedak wanted to ensure that Kiki was “an inclusive space, so that there’s vibes for everyone,” he says. “It should be a place where regulars would just show up and hang out.” He made sure that he recruited staff from different professional and personal backgrounds.

Fedak began working in food and hospitality at age 17 in his hometown in Pennsylvania. After moving to the D.C. area for work, he continued to moonlight as a bartender. Fedak joined Dirty Goose as general manager in 2019 before starting his Kiki journey.

To stock the bar, Fedak has plenty of spirits to go around. There is a focus on the vodka offerings, but he ensures that local distilleries take center stage: He carries District Made Vodka and Rye Whiskey, as well as Green Hat Gin. The beer game is also a winning strategy: there are more than 25 bottles and cans available, with three beers on tap. Local options are first-string, including selections from DC Brau, Right Proper, and Anxo Cider. Finally, the bar comes complete with a house margarita on tap (“ it’s a homemade recipe,” notes Fedak, using agave nectar syrup instead of sugar). The 16-ounce marg is always on special for $10.

While Kiki doesn’t serve food, Fedak is exploring options for a small truck or stand in the backyard.
Moving forward, Kiki will host weekly events. The bar already hosts drag shows during “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing parties. Fedak plans to begin a “Cobalt-style underwear contest” as well. Once COVID cases decline, he also wants to resurrect the Sunday funday parties that Cobalt would host with sports teams.

Fedak’s mantra for Kiki is evident in the mural that will take up the backyard patio – a quote from “Schitt’s Creek”: “I like the wine and not the label.”

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