eliza berkon is a features writer and musician based in washington d.c. 

A New Disco Festival Is Coming To D.C. This Summer

While the shiny jumpsuits, bell bottoms, and obscene amounts of polyester of the late 1970s are dead, disco music lives on. And it’s headed for D.C. this Labor Day weekend.

Introducing Blisspop Disco Fest, a two-night blowout for both new and classic disco music, hosted by U Street Music Hall and curated by the team behind the music website Blisspop. In the course of four concerts at the 9:30 Club and U Street Music Hall, ticket holders can catch more than a dozen DJs and musicians.

Will Eastman—D.C.-based DJ and founder of U Street Music Hall and the Blisspop site—says that after years of hosting Bliss parties of disco and house music at D.C. clubs, he noticed that no one was producing festivals that embraced disco’s roots and decided to launch one of his own.

Eastman, 49, got hooked on the genre as a child, when his parents played tracks from ABBA and Salsoul Records (a New York City record label specializing in disco singles) in his Wisconsin home. At age 9 or 10, he purchased his first disco record, a 45 of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” He was soon DJing disco parties for his friends in his basement, filled with kids he says loved punk and new wave but also enjoyed the dance hits of the '70s.

So what exactly is disco?

“The real determinant here is that it’s characterized by a syncopated beat, it’s a dance beat,” Eastman says. “And it has certain funky bass sounds to it, melodies to it—the melodies are really important. There’s a feeling, there’s a vibe.”

 

Concertgoers will get a taste of the original disco sound on Saturday night’s show at the 9:30 Club with Grammy-winning “Father of Disco” Giorgio Moroder headlining. The Italian producer crafted a string of hits for Donna Summer in the 1970s and also has released several modern-day collaborations with Britney Spears, Sia and others. Also on the roster are more contemporary artists playing house and its subgenres, which Eastman notes are descendants of disco, such as German EDM producer Claptone and Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem.

Should you bring along glow sticks? You're more than welcome, but Eastman says he’s going for a more minimal approach to the party.

“Just a disco ball—what more do you need?”

Tickets for Blisspop Festival shows will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 12. Two-day passes to the fest will be available. Here's the lineup:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 31

Claptone with François K, Charles Feelgood, Eau Claire at 9:30 Club. Doors 8 p.m.

Horse Meat Disco with Sleaze DJs, Ozker at UHall. Doors 10 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

Giorgio Moroder with Ultra Naté, Will Eastman at 9:30 Club. Doors 8 p.m.

Holy Ghost! (DJ set) with Juan MacLean, Nancy Whang, Jacques Renault at UHall. Doors 10 p.m.

18 Concerts You Don't Want To Miss Around D.C. This Week

18 Concerts You Don't Want to Miss This Week