Tuesday nights at Heist feel like a DJ convention.
Sometimes three or four of the area’s hottest DJs are taking turns on the decks, showing off what they’re listening to or offering up the remixes they’re working on. Sometimes there are twice that number, trading off the turntables every 10 to 20 minutes. That rapid turnover is mirrored in the music: You’ll hear old garage and disco, Adele remixes, a banging rework of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” — and wait, who just dropped a funky house remix of Bel Biv DeVoe’s “Poison?”
Among the local turntablists you may see slipping in and out of the subterranean club’s leather-clad DJ booth are DJ Phlipz, who has weekly residencies at Josephine and the W Hotel; DJ Neekola, frequently seen at the Huxley and L2; DJ Ri5e, who’s often at the Park at 14th or Eden; Stylus Chris of the Beat Refinery; veteran party-rocker Harry Hotter, who spins everywhere from ’95 Live to the Velvet Lounge; even old-school hip-hop DJ Dirty Hands, also known as Heist co-owner Charles Koch.
“I love the fact that you get to hear what DJs really want to play, as opposed to what they have to play,” says Hotter, who’s known as Harry Dixon in real life and is on the bill at Industry Tuesday once a month. “On any given Tuesday, you’ll likely hear a top 40 or hip-hop DJ play deep house, or trap, or whatever it is that they really want to play, but can’t because they’re usually limited by a mainstream club environment.” The DJs, he says, “really nerd out.”
When they’re not setting up laptops, cueing up tracks and engaging in friendly one-upmanship, the DJs mingle with patrons, many of whom are bartenders, nightclub managers and others who move in similar circles. After all, if you work in the nightlife biz, Tuesday is like most regular folks’ Saturday.
“Being able to DJ with DJ friends from D.C. and being able to hear them play” is the best part of the night, says Phlipz (known to his mom as Chris Valentin). “Most of the time we are all working [at the same time] and never get to hear each other, so it’s a nice change of pace.”
Heist, which opened last December in the old Fly Lounge space, is an intimate lounge with a motif that falls between gangster den and Batcave: lots of gold, lots of couches, niches filled with fake artifacts and stolen loot, walls decorated with blueprints of famous buildings that have been burglarized and screens showing CCTV footage of robberies. The front of the bar is riddled with bullet holes. The toilets are gold. The champagne fridge holds Methuselahs of Veuve Clicquot ($3,000) and Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades ($25,000). The menu even offers an exclusive painting by famed street artist Alec Monopoly for $35,000. To see any of this on a Saturday, you have to get past huge bouncers outside Heist’s front doors.
But if you show up on Tuesday, there’s no hassle, cover charge or dress code. Bottles of spirits are buy one, get one free. It’s a chance for the people who create so much fun on weekends to have a little of their own. Trust me: You won’t feel out of place if you’re not a nightlife insider, as long as you’re not a wallflower.
Colored lights whirl overhead, and servers wind through the crowd carrying bottles of vodka and tequila with fizzing sparklers attached to the top. It’s the closest thing you’ll find to the electric atmosphere of a weekend nightclub during the work week.
“DJs really never get to see one another very often because we all work on the same nights,” Hotter says. “That goes for all of the nightlife folks who come out, too. It’s awesome to meet folks who share the same odd hours as you do face-to-face. For me, it’s really not like working at all, even though technically I’m on the clock.”
Tuesdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Heist, 1802 Jefferson Pl. NW. 202-716-2055.