Exchanges aren’t my top events during the year to attend but DCLX had a line-up this year that you couldn’t just walk away from. There were five hot bands playing five dances with a double-hitter for the Saturday main dance. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers on Friday night with Gordon Webster’s band playing the late night; The New Orleans Jazz Vipers opposite the Blue Crescent Septet at Glen Echo Saturday night with the Cangelosi Cards playing late night; and the Boilermakers wrapping up Sunday night.
I took the bus down from NYC Friday evening after work and met up with Lily (who was my lovely host for the weekend). We got ready for the dance and headed down to Glen Echo’s bumper car pavilion for the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. Glen Echo is a wonderful representation of art deco architecture and while we weren’t in the wonderful Spanish Ballroom until Saturday night, the atmosphere is still great. The dance was packed with barely enough room to swing out even when the band pitched the tempo really high.
Rather than head to the late night, we ended up doing a midnight monument tour. I’ve been to DC before but this was the first time I got to see the tourist spots, albeit at 1am. We managed to take in five memorials in about an hour. We had an entertaining back-and-forth with a pair of cops at the Washington Monument who were probably as bored as we were tired. The Korean War and Vietnam War memorials were both touching and haunting in the late night, while the World War II monument gave resolve with inspiring quotes and its grand stance. We ended the night at the Lincoln Memorial and were provided with some interesting trivia provided by our impromptu tour guide. Exhausted, we skipped the rest of late night and crashed. If anyone was there for Gordon’s band on Friday night, let me know what you thought. Comment.
Saturday we took the metro into the Capitol for the afternoon dance. The weather was spectacular, despite a 60% call for rain, with the sun out and a slight breeze, perfect for an afternoon dance. Despite the granite and some technical troubles with the generator powering the DJ booth and speakers, it was a wonderful afternoon to lounge and dance a bit. Plus there were three Starbucks within throwing distance and I managed to inhale six shots of espresso to combat the already budding exhaustion.
Saturday night was the double-header with the New Orleans Jazz Vipers opposite the Blue Crescent Septet. I have to say both bands were great musically. They played very well, song choice was good and the musicians worked well together. Unfortunately I felt the energy of the night remained relatively flat. The song tempos picked up and fell back to mid, dropped and picked up to mid, without departing from a content middle. The energy never climbed high enough for a jam to break out or for the floor to cycle enough. The bands didn’t capture the dancers and bring the room together as one. The music, while good to listen and dance a bit, did not drive me to the floor on every song or inspire me to let loose.
Saturday’s late night was a whole different matter. With a smaller venue and the Cangelosi Cards down on the floor with the dancers the atmosphere was much more intimate and cozy. Many dancers spent the first few songs just listening on the sides to the pure voice of Tamar and the rich sounds of the rest of the musicians. I get to see the Cards relatively regularly in New York City at Banjo Jims or Telephone Bar, but it is the rare occasion that I get to see them in a fully danceable space with a great sound system. The late night recalled memories of the late night at Swing Out New Hampshire where they played until 5am with exceptional energy and interaction between the band and the dancers. The only complaint I heard was that the songs were too long. I danced almost every song minus the first few where I sat out and listened and I wouldn’t have known they were long if someone hadn’t mentioned it after the fact.
Sunday we skipped the afternoon dance which was rained out and relocated to the bumper car pavilion and instead went for a delightful brunch at Belga in the Eastern Market section of the city. The service was exceptional, our server entertaining, the food was well presented and tasted exceptional. Here is half of the gnutella and banana crepe that Jerone and I split; included was fresh mint and vanilla ice cream.
Bringing the weekend to close was the Sunday night dance at El Boqueron, a bar and Mexican restaurant halfway back to Baltimore. The Boilermakers played from 9pm to 12am and really had the floor going. Like the Cards, the Boilermakers interact very well with the dancers and the only jam of the weekend broke out at the very end of the Boilermakers last set. Whether intentional or not, the organizers managed to choose the band that would leave the weekend on a high note.
Overall, DCLX had a solid lineup with good DJs, bands and spaces. As one of the only large exchanges I have attended in a while, DCLX was definitely the one to go to despite the lull in energy at the evening dance on Saturday. There was also no reggae.
Did you go to DCLX this year? What did you think of it? Comment.