Grime! In DC!


photo credit: sexyfitsum, from the Metroblogging DC pool

“Grime! In DC!”

Shortly before midnight Sunday night, that was the Twitter my boyfriend posted. About two hours later, as we were getting ready to leave Jimmy Valentines Lonely Hearts Club, he posted again.

“My hair is full of ceiling debris shaken loose by bass.” High praise, indeed.

While grime actually comprised only a small portion of the set performed by SF/UK based dj BreakBeatBuddha (I will forgive the silly, silly name only this once) – which also included plenty of dubstep, and noisy, distorted, sometimes glitchy, party music – it was still a bit of a surprise to hear the British sub-genre played in a DC club

The Dive and Lie Wrecked night – presented as the final event in a weekend-long “mini-festival” called Forward – actually followed through on the claim that the generally enthusiastic audience would get a variety of styles, unlike many a DC club night where one can generally expect to hear 90% drum and bass, even at nights like Modern’s which puts dubstep right on the flyer.

In addition to BreakBeatBuddha, the popular Baltimore dj Joe Nice was on the bill, and was really the name that drew us up to the club in the first place. While we have never actually seen him live, he is most cited as one of the first American djs to become keen on the developments in the English scene in recent years, and bringing those styles more to the mainstream.

Credit is certainly due to the 88 DC promotion group for throwing the event. They have earned some success for their recurring and one-off events around town, and hopefully will keep putting on nights like this one.

Having been to their monthly X at BeBar initially only because a friend was performing (the whole “art happening” thing was off-putting to me, I will admit), I found myself pleasantly surprised and have gone back. It is less of a dance-oriented event, to be sure, but that is alright – and it certainly seems to be just fine with the slightly-older crowd it seems to attract, who are as interested in seeing interesting things on the walls and chatting with friends as they are in the music.

Jimmy Valentines is a delightful place in itself. No sign on the door, and on a quiet block, so it gives off just a whiff of exclusivity, even if it really is no speakeasy at all. The smallish, long room is painted and lit all in rosy red, making the faces of the patrons glow attractively.

We were pretty surprised by the quality of the system for a room of its size, which was clear and intense. It was strong enough to jostle a few chunks plaster out of the ceiling, which fell on to Craig’s head and the bar area, and for hours after leaving the club I had such a ringing in my ears that I think I may finally have lost some hearing.

Having never been there prior, I did not really know what to expect from the crowd. It was somewhat more mixed in terms of age and “style” than I might have expected, seeming to skew from collegey to late-30s, with several groups coming in suits to mingle with the heads in hood-up-hoodies and the like. I should point out, though, that Jimmy Valentines is principally a bar and was, last night at least, decidedly not all-ages. The woman working the door was clearly quite serious about ID-taking, and even scolded me for still carrying my vertical minor’s license even though I have been of age for some time (it still has a year before it expires!) because they are easier to forge.

All of the staff seemed to be girls, in fact, which was kind of intriguing, including perhaps the coolest security-type I have seen lately, with her mohawk and DC pride tattoo. She was clearly a total sweetie if you were cool, but I suspect could turn bad-ass if things got rowdy. One of the bartenders was among the prettiest I have ever seen mixing drinks, and I genuinely pitied her when some low-life in a plaid shirt was clearly putting the sleaze on her, thinking that she probably gets that a lot.

In short: I think Jimmy Valentines is now my third-favorite bar in town. Good music, super-cool space, a beer selection that, while short, still finds room for Brooklyn, Delirium, and Youngs, mixed-drinks served with bendy-straws with paper decorations, and some cool kids. Awesome.

In DC!

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