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Posted at 9:57 AM ET, 09/24/2009

D.C.'s Top DJs to Headline Their Own Club

By Fritz Hahn

D.C.-based DJs Jesse Tittsworth and Will Eastman have spun records and gotten audiences dancing across the globe, from divey bars to the biggest nightclubs, so you can figure they know a lot about what makes a great party spot. By early next year, they'll be starting up one of their own.

The U Street Music Hall is slated to open in early 2010 in the old Cue Bar location at 1115 U Street -- a basement-level space that can hold 250 to 300 people. Eastman says the place will have "a rock-club atmosphere with a high-end sound system. No bottle service or any of that."

"The whole place is going to be a dance floor. There will be a few booths and bar stools, but it's a dance club. It's for dancing, not sitting."

Eastman claims he never set out to open his own place -- when a friend suggested the idea few years ago, Eastman says his response was, "You're crazy. I'm a DJ. I don't know how to run a club."

But the thought stuck in his mind, especially because "there wasn't an affordable, no-frills dance club in D.C. There hasn't been a club to fill that niche since Red closed." So when he heard about an affordable space in the middle of U Street, he had to jump on it.

Eastman and Tittsworth's expertise is in rocking parties, not micromanaging them, so they're leaving most of the other details to the rest of the ownership team, which includes Eric Hilton and Farid Ali of Eighteenth Street Lounge, Hilton's younger brother Ian Marvin chef James Hilton and Eastman's frequent partner Brian Miller.

For Eastman, it's a natural fit. "The ESL group brings experience in running nightclubs. Jesse and I bring experience DJing. Brian brings experience in design," [having designed the Gibson, Josephine and other D.C. hotspots]."

Just because Eastman has his own club, however, doesn't mean you'll find him there exclusively -- he plans to keep the electro-indie Bliss night at the Black Cat and he'd like to host more events at the 9:30 club, where the last '90s-hits-only No Scrubs party drew 1,000 people. "For what we do, we feel like there's room for this," he explains. "There's a lot that I do that doesn't fit at the Cat, [but] that's too small for the 9:30. We're going to be residents [at the new club] and DJ regularly, but we're not the only DJs. We're going to have national, international and local guests."

Other plans include spoken-word readings and DJ classes for area youth. We'll keep you posted on more details as the U Street Music Hall's opening draws near.

-- Fritz

Correction: Ian Hilton, Eric's brother, is a partner in the project; Eric's stepson James, the chef at Marvin, "will likely advise" the food aspect of U Street Music Hall, Will Eastman says, but is not a partner.

By Fritz Hahn  | September 24, 2009; 9:57 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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