Making Room For Everyone
By Fritz Hahn
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 28, 2005
THERE'S JUST something about a good old-fashioned house party: mingling in the kitchen, catching up with folks you haven't seen for a while; strangers on the couch getting to know each other over drinks; people dancing elbow to elbow to records that a friend spins on your stereo.
And it's even better when you don't have to clean up the next day.
Take it from Daryl "Quartermaine" Francis of the local hip-hop group Critically Acclaimed, who hosts Uncle Q's Living Room every Thursday night at the Blue Room (2321 18th St. NW; 202-332-0800).
"This is my house party," he explains, surveying the crowded second-story bar and dance floor. "I got my man [DJ Dredd] on the turntables. I got a fully stocked bar," he says, sweeping his hand toward the glowing shelves of bottles in the back of the room. "I got a place where you can sit down and talk" on couches and blocky chairs. Last week, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" was projected onto a screen on the wall. "It's like the living room -- you get together with your friends and watch a movie," Francis says.
When you see the room full of people grooving and laughing, it's clear he's on to something.
A successful party needs an outgoing host, so it helps that Francis is one of the most gregarious in town. He's often found perched at the top of the stairs, greeting friends with hugs and backslaps, and welcoming everyone to the club.
If you wander in alone, glancing around and nodding your head to the beat, don't be surprised if a stocky guy wearing a cap and a beard comes over and starts chatting, and even offers to introduce you to a few of his friends. Francis says he just wants everyone to have a good time.
Working as a bartender at Tryst, the Adams Morgan coffeehouse that often seems more like a community center, Francis has become acquainted with a lot of people -- including Dominic Redd, known on the club scene as DJ Dredd, the musical director of the monthly Prince-centric dance party Lovesexy DC at Modern, and an old-school DJ of some renown.
"I went to Aroma [in Cleveland Park] on a date and heard him, and I was like, 'Man . . . ,' " Francis says, shaking his head. They were eventually introduced at Tryst, and discussed the idea of starting an event with a house-party vibe, mixing hip-hop and R&B classics (think Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, Michael Jackson) with newer tunes to keep everybody dancing.
Uncle Q's Living Room -- the Q is short for "Quartermaine," Francis's stage name -- started at the Adams Morgan lounge Bossa last year, and Francis's overlapping social circles meant that lots of folks were soon hanging out: musicians; breakdancers who'd spontaneously take over the floor; neighborhood crowds who heard about the event over lattes and wanted to experience it for themselves. The rules are simple: no cover, no dress code, no pretense -- just great music and friendly people.
Francis and Redd moved their party to the Blue Room's sleeker surroundings in November, where it has stayed packed with a multicultural fusion of men and women who looked like they were having more fun than anyone else in the city, whether dancing or just taking in the action from seats in the mezzanine-style loft.
"I'm from New York," Francis says. "In D.C., you definitely have your black parties and you have your white parties. But the best part for me is when everybody gets together. . . . I know a lot of people from different walks of life. They'll come party with me, and before you know it, it's a really mixed crowd."