Everything old is new again, and doubly so at Cobalt. After a three-year hiatus, DJ Jason Royce is reviving his '70s/'80s/early '90s dance party Solid Gold, now known as Flashback, at the Dupont Circle gay bar.
From 2001 to 2008, Royce made Solid Gold one of the city's most popular retro nights, dropping Abba, Prince, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Duran Duran for packed houses that alternated between dancing, checking out one another and grabbing cheap drinks from shirtless bartenders. Then Royce left the club, the music format changed, and the party got less popular.
Now it's back, along with suitably old-school drink specials: $2 draft beers and two-for-one rail drinks. Purists will love Royce's selection policy: play only original tunes released from 1974 to 1994, heavy on the disco and new wave. If you find yourself dancing to a Madonna remix or an extended version of a hit New Order song, it's going to be one from the original vinyl single, not a banging house remix that a "producer" with a laptop whipped up in his bedroom last weekend.
The first Flashback arrives on Valentine's Day and will return every week after that. Sounds like the perfect destination for singles and couples alike.
-- Fritz Hahn (Feb. 10, 2012)
By Fritz Hahn
Washington Post Weekend Section
Friday, February 6, 2004
Nightlife trends come and go, but retro dance parties seem to be forever. Whether you blame nostalgia, the bland state of radio or VH1 specials, nights dedicated to hair-gelled synthpop, new wave bands and soundtracks from Molly Ringwald films show no signs of abating. Later this year, Club Heaven's wildly successful " '80s Dance Party" will mark 10 years on 18th Street -- it's been running as long as the decade it celebrates.
Solid Gold Tuesdays at Cobalt isn't quite that old, but the Dupont Circle club is home to one of the better retro events in the area -- and certainly the only one with shirtless bartenders showing off their abs while pushing cans of Milwaukee's Best.
DJ Jason Royce generally eschews three-minute top-40 anthems for extended Madonna, Prince or Donna Summer remixes that keep the crowd moving on the small dance floor or the stairlike risers along the dimly lit walls. Seamlessly moving from '70s disco to early '90s club music like Deee-Lite, Royce makes clear that this isn't just an '80s night -- although that decade remains the bedrock of his playlists. "I'm really an '80s person, but it wouldn't be a retro night without certain songs," he says. "If I didn't play Abba, I'd probably be shot."
Cobalt offered a long-running retro night before being shuttered by fire in December 1998, and when the club reopened a few years ago, Royce -- hired as Cobalt's lighting technician -- half-seriously offered to host a new version. That led to an audition, and then he had the gig. Nothing groundbreaking is going on at Solid Gold. It's just a fun night out full of casually dressed young-ish men who are all too happy to dance, sing along and not-so-subtly check each other out. While some women do show up to boogie with male friends, a sign by the door reminds patrons that Cobalt is a club "run by gay people for gay people." Royce doesn't mind straight people coming to enjoy the music, but boisterous bachelorette parties aren't encouraged.
Admission is free, and even the drink prices are suitably retro: $3 beers and rail cocktails all night long, although quality can be fairly inconsistent. My biggest complaint would be that Cobalt isn't well ventilated, and it's one of those places where the cigarette smoke really sticks to your clothes -- a good reason to take advantage of the coat check.
Cobalt is located above the FoodbarDC restaurant and swank 30 Degrees Martini Lounge, both of which offer a respite from dancing if you need one. The club's direct entrance is through a fairly anonymous door on R Street -- look for the stairs.